Wednesday 20th January 2016
Babylon Health Lets you Talk to a Doctor Through your Smartphone
AI-powered version of the app to be released within two months
DeepMind cofounders Demis Hassabis and Mustafa Suleyman are among a group of investors that are due to back Babylon Health with $25 million (£17 million) — an app that allows people to consult a doctor through their mobile phone.
The funding round, to be led by Swedish investment group AB Kinnevik, will reportedly allow Babylon to hire engineers and scientists that can build a version of its platform that is powered by artificial intelligence.
Hassabis and Suleyman are widely regarded as some of the most prominent minds in the field of artificial intelligence so they may be able to help develop the new AI-powered version of Babylon.
An AI-powered version of Babylon is expected to be released within the next two months. The AI version of the app will ask the patient a series of questions about their symptoms before giving them the advice they require.
Over 150,000 registered users have signed up to Babylon’s subscription health service, which allows people to have a video conference with one of the 100 doctors that are employed full time by Babylon. People can also use Babylon to book appointments and order medical tests.
Founder and CEO Ali Parsa told the FT that his company, which charges users £4.99 a month, has no intention of completely replacing doctors with machines. However, he believes there’s a case for using technology to facilitate the screening process and referring patients to trained medical staff when necessary.
“The challenge is how do you deal with the bottleneck that answers people’s questions, check their symptoms so that they don’t go to the doctor, and if they do, they go appropriately?”. – Sam Shead