Virtual health care may seem great, particularly when Covid-19 has made GPs increasingly out of reach for many. But how much do we really know about these apps?by Martha O'Neil / July 19, 2020 / Leave a comment
As strange as it sounds, I enjoy the ritual of going to the doctor. I love the crinkle and pop of badly laid lino, the smell of plastic-coated bottle green seats—harsh lights in the corridor, posters that haven’t been changed for months (sometimes even years). I treasure the chance to fill out a prescription request on top of a five-month-old copy of Hello! magazine and slot it into a prescription box sometimes made of the heavy wood of church offertories, and other times an old shoe box decorated with left-over wrapping paper from Christmases long ago.
It may be a great surprise to you, then, that I haven’t set foot in a GP surgery in over six months. Not because I have a clean bill of health, but because I now conduct all my appointments from my own home.
It’s made possible by the power of technology. And by technology, I mean the digital app Babylon Health and their NHS service, “GP at Hand.” The app allows users to video call a Babylon GP, provided that they are willing to make the healthcare company their primary GP. (Those who do not wish to do so are able to sign up on a “pay as you go” basis.)
As well as their GP services, Babylon has an online chatbot that harnesses artificial intelligence to provide recommendations to their patients without the use of real doctors. Babylon stresses that this service should not be used by those with more serious concerns, but for those with busy lives, it’s can seem like a simple way to receive advice on anything from an earache to a migraine.
With its simple interface, team of over a thousand doctors, and a $2bn valuation, Babylon seems to have been a roaring success since its founding in 2013. LinkedIn believes the digital technology company to be one of the “top 10 British start-ups to work for,” and young professionals across London in particular appreciate the app’s compatibility with modern-day life. Now in the heat of a global pandemic, with GP surgeries out of bounds for many, Babylon’s GP at hand can offer a convenient alternative.
It sounds like a no-brainer: the GP surgery for a young…