Dr Alex Ashman, of National Health Action, draws attention to a Health Service Journal article. It reports that University Hospitals Birmingham Foundation Trust, which provides medical services across South Birmingham, East Birmingham, Solihull, Sutton Coldfield, Tamworth and South Staffordshire, has entered into talks with Babylon Health, owner of the GP at Hand app, currently used in Rwanda and London.

The app’s artificial intelligence is intended to reduce footfall within the Trust’s A&E Department by performing triage – the assignment of degrees of urgency to wounds or illnesses to decide the order of treatment of a large number of patients or casualties.

The talks are said to be exploring the possibility of using the apps’ video software to provide virtual outpatient appointments. Dr Ashman and many of his colleagues believe that use of the GP at Hand app poses a risk to patient safety and the integrity of general practice.

 According to some of Babylon’s own doctors, the chatbot’s advice is often wrong

In December last year, Forbes magazine – though describing the NHS’s motivations to save money and produce better health outcomes for patients as clear and noble – reported a problem. According to some of Babylon’s own doctors, the bot’s advice was often wrong. To prove their point, the doctors carried out an audit on their own initiative, according to two insiders who asked not to be named for fear of legal repercussions.

Forbes cartoon

They found that around 10% to 15% of the chatbot’s 100 most frequently suggested outcomes, such as a chest infection, either missed warning signs of a more serious condition like cancer or sepsis or were just flat-out wrong.

Hamish Fraser, a Brown University biomedical informatics professor also disputed Babylon’s assertions in a recent article in The Lancet. He points out that Babylon’s software had answered only 15 of the 50 exam problems and was allowed to give three answers to each question. “When doctors do this test, you get one right answer,” he says.

Users can choose to subscribe to a monthly fee and gain unlimited virtual access to GPs or opt for a pay-as-you-go model. Read more here.

Patients who use GP at Hand leave their current practices in order to register with the app and 85% of the current apps users are aged between 20 and 39 years of age Practices across London using this service have less funding for the care of more costly patients as the money brought by younger healthier people is used to provide care to the elderly, those who are disabled and those who have complex needs.  As younger patients who use GP at Hand leave their current practices in order to register with the app.

Pulse Today reports that this CCG has had to be bailed out by neighbouring London CCGs

This was done in order to avoid the closure of local services, according to the Health Service Journal, as people transferred registration from other north west London CCGs to Hammersmith and Fulham Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) which has seen the number of patients registered with the app soar to 51,000.

Dr Seth Dassanayake – who chairs the Local Medical Committee in Hammersmith and Fulham – has described delays to Ipsos Mori’s impact assessment and the long wait for an up-to-date Care Quality Commission rating for the service as ‘irresponsible’ adding that he was ‘uncomfortable’ about the level of information to support the video consultation service. The local MP Andy Slaughter has called for a Select Committee investigation into the app – a call which has now been echoed by the local council in a letter to the Guardian.

NHS England reversed its earlier decision to block Babylon Health

In February the Health Service Journal reported that Babylon’s remote video consultation service in Birmingham will be expanded to Birmingham after NHS England reversed its decision to block it, though – as GP online reports – an independent report into the safety of the app and its effects upon general practice still has not been released  – and Its artificial intelligence has been criticised by clinicians and in peer reviewed research published in the Lancet.

Dr Ashman adds that Birmingham and Solihull CCG and GPs across Birmingham have made it clear that they do not want GP at Hand to be rolled out to the city. BMA GP committee chair Richard Vautrey called the announcement “incredibly disappointing” and “premature.”

 

 

 

o

Advertisements