Researchers at Babylon, a leading digital-first value-based healthcare company, have found that members of Babylon’s highly accessible, 24/7 primary care model incurred between 15-35% lower acute hospital costs than the regional average.
Babylon GP at Hand is a digital-first NHS GP practice, free at the point of need for members. Over 80% of appointments are virtual, which members can access at any time of day or night, 365 days per year. Every member has access to a full suite of self-care technology, including symptom checking, digital health assessment and digital twin avatars as well as virtual and in-person consultations. Over 100,000 people across London and Birmingham have registered with Babylon GP at Hand since November 2017.
Dr Sam Winward, lead author, said “This work shows that the Babylon model of highly accessible, digital-first primary care is associated with significantly lower downstream costs. The findings were observed after adjusting for healthcare needs, meaning they do not simply reflect the fact that Babylon members were typically younger than the comparator group. The savings in secondary care significantly outweigh the additional investment required to provide the Babylon model of primary care, making it an important proof point for our global mission, to provide an accessible, affordable health service to every person on earth.”
The peer-reviewed research titled ‘The effect of 24/7, digital-first NHS primary care on acute hospital spend: a retrospective, observational analysis‘ published in JMIR, compared the spend per patient at the Babylon GP at Hand practice to all other practices in the North West London region. 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. The work builds on findings from an independent NHS evaluation of Babylon GP at Hand, which reported that members were significantly less likely to use certain emergency services after registering with Babylon GP at Hand.
Ali Parsa, CEO of Babylon, said: “The triple-aim of healthcare has long been clear – to improve the patient experience of care; to improve the health of populations; and to reduce the per capita cost of healthcare. Preventative healthcare is now understood to be the key to unlocking these benefits, but all too often general practices are not resourced or able to provide the accessibility of high quality care required. As a result, primary care clinicians burn out, costs bankrupt people and patient populations are not well served. Babylon has invested in accessibility, in technology and in supporting staff, with the deliberate aim of solving more of our members’ problems in primary care. It’s great to see further evidence that our end-to-end digital-first services are benefiting patients and doctors by solving patient health problems and reducing expensive downstream care, through accessible and clinically effective primary care.”.
Darshak Sanhavi, CMO of Babylon and former group director of CMS during the Obama administration, added: “This is powerful evidence that by 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.”
Some of Babylon’s digital-first healthcare services are already available at the Royal Wolverhampton NHS Trust Wolverhampton and University Hospitals Birmingham NHS Foundation Trust, reaching over 1.5 million patients. Both NHS Trusts partnered with Babylon to use the app-based service to help flag patients with potential coronavirus, as well as assist those who have been diagnosed with coronavirus to address their medical needs.