Royal Wolverhampton NHS Trust (RWT) has entered into a 10-year partnership with digital provider Babylon to develop a new healthcare delivery model of ‘digital-first integrated care’ for 300,000 people across Wolverhampton and its surrounding areas.
People will have access to a free app that provides remote access to GPs and hospital specialists at times that suit patients, and allows live monitoring of patients with chronic conditions, as well as giving patients personalised care plans underpinned by Babylon’s artificial intelligence. The first services are expected to go live later this year.
RTW is unusual in that ten GP practices are part of the Trust. This means RWT is directly responsible for the delivery of primary care. Last year the Trust commented: "This vertical integration offers a unique opportunity to redesign services from initial patient contact through on-going management and end of life care."
RWT said the app will give patients access to services such as:
Babylon was founded in 2013 by Ali Parsa, a former banker at Goldman Sachs. Its USP is video appointments offered with an NHS doctor 24/7 via a free app. The company is behind the controversial GP at Home practice based in Fulham, London, which shortly before Christmas had the third largest patient list in England.
In November 2017 when NHS England started to let Babylon register patients from across London, it had 4,700. The practice now has approaching 42,000 patients and is causing a financial headache for Hammersmith & Fulham CCG, which has to pay for them, despite a large portion not being based in the borough.
Last year Babylon expanded to Birmingham, and plans to set up in Manchester in early 2020.
The BMA has in the past called on the government and NHS England to stop the service's registration of out-of-area patients because of its impact on other GP providers.