Study finds Bablylon's digital model of primary care cuts down NHS costs

Babylon Health said study results published in the Journal of Medical Internet Research suggest that NHS patients with access to around-the-clock, 'digital-first' primary care via Babylon GP at Hand incurred significantly lower acute hospital costs. Darshak Sanghavi, recently appointed chief medical officer of Babylon, remarked "this is powerful evidence that improving access through digital-first healthcare can lead to meaningful reduction on downstream care costs. This is a lesson that can apply outside the UK into markets like the US, Canada, and beyond."

Babylon GP at Hand, which was launched in the NHS in 2017, is a digital-first NHS GP practice that is free at the point of need for members. According to the company, over 80% of appointments are virtual, which members can access at any time of the day all year long. The suite of self-care technology includes symptom checking and digital health assessment, as well as monitoring symptoms, observations, activity and mood through the Babylon app.

Lower costs sustained over two years

In the observational analysis, researchers compared the spend per patient at the Babylon GP at Hand practice to all other practices in the North West London region. Results showed that spending per patient for the Babylon GP at Hand practice was 15% and 35% lower than the regional average for financial years 2019-2020, depending on the weighting method used to adjust for healthcare need. Researchers said this represented a lower total spending for the Babylon GP at Hand population of £3.3 million ($4.5 million) and £9.5 million ($13.1 million), respectively.

"Lower costs were seen over two consecutive years, during which time the registered population of Babylon GP at Hand doubled in size, demonstrating that the effect is scalable," Babylon noted.

Last month, Babylon announced plans to go public via a $4.2-billion merger with special purpose acquisition company Alkuri Global. The transaction, which was approved by both boards, is expected to close in the second half of this year.

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