LONDON – Digital health care company babylon will use $60 million in new funding to further its mission of combining machine computing with medical expertise to create a comprehensive, immediate and personalized health service that is universally available.
Dr. Ali Parsa, founder and CEO of Babylon, believes that while artificial intelligence will soon enable consumers to diagnose and foresee personal health issues better than doctors, it’s important that the two work together.
“Doctors do a lot more than diagnosis,” Parsa said, adding that AI will actually allow doctors and health care professionals to become more accessible.
The babylon app allows users to book a consultation face-to-face via a smartphone or computer, check symptoms, ask a chatbot medical questions, monitor health vitals like pulse and blood pressure, carry out health tests and keep clinical records in one password-protected secure location.
Users pay a $6.46 monthly or $64.61 annual fee, or a one-off rate of $25 per video consultation.
Since it launched in 2014, babylon’s app has been downloaded more than 1 million times and has more than 800,000 registered users, including 10% of the adult population of Rwanda, who registered in the first six months after it was available there.
The company released its first AI-enabled symptom checker in 2016, and partnered with the U.K.’s National Health Service this year to offer a triage service through its app as an alternative to dialing the NHS’s 24-hour non-emergency telephone number. The company also partners with companies that offer the service to their employees.
Parsa said babylon will release an enhanced version of its app in 2017, offering diagnosis by AI that can help clinicians accurately identify a disease and the most appropriate treatment.
“This is about machines and medicine cooperating,” said Parsa. “AI will be a tool that will allow health care professionals to focus on the things that humans will be best at for a long time to come.”