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Healthcare on the phone 

A virtual system has been launched which enables people to access a GP and other healthcare services via their smartphone. Named babylon –not to be confused with the online translation service or the Babylon Search toolbar – it will enable users to be put in touch with an experienced GP or, as appropriate, a specialist consultant. It is the first organisation of its kind to be registered with the Care Quality Commission (CQC) and receive designated body status from NHS England.

It is claimed to combine the latest advances in technology with modern medicine to provide accessible and affordable GP, specialist and mental health consultations for all. Using the free babylon app, available for both iPhones and Android devices, patients will be able to get answers from a GP or a nurse to questions submitted as text messages and then, if necessary, schedule a video or audio consultation follow-up. Patients can also get rapid referrals to specialists, and prescriptions delivered to their home or a local pharmacy.

At the launch, Dr Ali Parsa, founder & CEO of babylon, pointed out that 95 per cent of healthcare requirements were fairly basic rather than demanding of an advanced speciality. “We want to leverage the mobile devices that people already use to make access to healthcare better, simpler and more affordable for all. With easy access, world-class clinicians, comprehensive monitoring and health records all at your fingertips, babylon is simply your own virtual health service in your pocket.” At the same time he announced partnerships with Bupa and Aviva UK Health and other organisations and so Babylon could be linked into their existing services.

The individual monthly subscription for the service, which will be available from 8 a.m. till 8 p.m. six days a week, is £7.99 for an adult and £4.99 for a child. Other tariffs are planned for the future.

To date the company has already signed up over 100 experience doctors, mainly consultants, to work shifts for babylon during their off-duty periods. They have been recruited by babylon’s Chief Medical Officer, Dr Paul Glynne who was formerly Medical Director of University College Hospital, London, one of the UK’s leading teaching hospitals and who is assisted by a Clinical Chief of Service in each of the specialist departments.

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