Babylon has partnered with a Chinese internet company to help deliver personal health assessments and treatment advice across mainland China.
London-based Babylon, which powers the NHS’s GP at Hand service, is providing its artificial intelligence (AI) technology to Tencent’s WeChat social messaging platform.
The deal means the one billion WeChat users can enter their symptoms to Babylon’s app, which will then send back healthcare advice.
For example, when a user describes his or her symptoms or conditions to the system, Babylon’s AI can analyse and form a personal assessment based on those inputs, while making recommendations as to whether the user should seek further consultation with a doctor.
Dr Ali Parsa, Babylon Health’s CEO, said: “Tencent is consistently striving to enhance the life of the people of China. In health, Tencent and Babylon share the same ethos about making healthcare accessible for all. This is a partnership for Babylon to work with one of the tech giants in China, to bring quality digital health service to Chinese people.”
Babylon is a private digital healthcare company which provides online virtual consultations with GPs via text or video messaging.
In March 2017, Digital Health News reported that Babylon’s app was among one the of first to be included in the NHS’s app’s library.
However, a year later we reported that it had been removed, with NHS England citing beta testing as the reason behind its disappearance.
The company also powers the NHS’ GP at Hand service, which allows patients to book appointments and talk to their doctor through their smartphone for free.
This has been met with criticism from a number of parties, who accuse the service of “cherry-picking” younger and healthier patients.
Just before the Easter break, a group of patients and GPs gathered in east London to protest, with some brandishing placards which said ‘GP at Hand not on my land’.