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homeless man on street waiting for vaccine

BY Leo Hynett

Healthcare

Babylon Health to Go Public via SPAC

Following a valuation of $4.2billion, Babylon Health is set to enter the US market.

JUNE 04  2021

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Babylon Health is continuing to revolutionise the healthcare world. They provide video consultations with healthcare professionals who have the power to prescribe directly from the app, streamlining the process for patients and doctors alike. With this in mind, it’s hardly surprising the company reached a massive equity valuation of $4.2 billion.

Babylon’s team combines expertise from over 60 countries, bringing together doctors and computer scientists from around the world to form this truly impressive platform. In Babylon’s words, ‘AI is only as clever as the people who build and teach it’.

 

A continued success story

Babylon Health has leapt from one success to the next since it was founded in 2013. Going from strength to strength, Babylon has worked across the UK in partnerships with the NHS and private sector providers, expanded to Canada, Europe, and Asia, and also operates in Rwanda under the Babyl brand. Babylon also previously partnered with the Samsung Health app, providing the expert knowledge behind the legacy ‘ask an expert’ feature.

‘Babylon said it now covers 24 million patients around the world. It reported $79 million in revenue in 2020, a 394% year-over-year increase, and it expects that to swell to $321 million this year.’

The UK healthtech giant is now set to become public in the US through a merger with Alkuri Global Acquisition Corp. Under this new merger, ‘Babylon Founder and CEO Dr Ali Parsa will become Chairman and CEO of the combined entity; an Alkuri Global representative will join the Board of Directors’.

Babylon’s services
Combining AI-powered diagnoses with video consultations, Babylon Health makes quality healthcare accessible through its subscription service, website, and iOS and Android apps.

Babylon Health’s ‘mission is to put an accessible and affordable health service in the hands of every person on Earth. To make healthcare accessible, we deliver it through the devices people already own. To make healthcare affordable, we use technology to help ease the burden on our doctors. By automating their routine tasks, we allow doctors to focus on what they do best: give care to the patients who need it most.’

Prescriptions can be written during appointments and sent directly to the user’s local pharmacy, making the process of receiving care quick and easy. The service does run on a subscription model but is also available through some insurance packages or company-wide health plans.

Babylon’s Covid-19 Symptom Checker is available for free to all users with the full Covid-19 Care Assistant tool available to paid subscribers. In this tool, the information is continually updated to reflect the latest science and guidance to care for user wellbeing in real time.

Babylon delivers on its promise to put its services in the hands of as many people as possible. In fact, ‘in 2020, the company helped one patient every five seconds with approximately 6 million patient interactions.’ User opinions of the service are incredibly high too with ‘a 95 percent user retention rate and a 5-star rating from more than 90 percent of its users.’ As healthcare as a whole moves towards this digital-first model, Babylon Health is well placed for continued success.

 

Increased investor interest

Investors are increasingly interested in digital health platforms like Babylon. This has been driven in part by the pandemic when many telemedicine companies – established ones and startups alike – have seen boosts in both users and profits. There has also been increased interest in wearable health monitoring technology as more and more of our lives are run through our devices.

‘The leading telehealth providers in the US and China, Teladoc (US:TDOC) and Ping An Healthcare and Technology (HK:1833), have seen their shares rise by 79 per cent and 47 per cent, respectively, over the past 12 months.’

These trends will likely continue beyond the pandemic as these telemedicine platforms form a stable part of our new normal.

Babylon seems to have a positive future in its UK home as well as in the US market: ‘Health secretary Matt Hancock – a strong proponent of adopting technology in the NHS – said back in 2018 that he uses [Babylon’s service] GP at Hand, and he is likely hoping that Babylon can help the NHS achieve its goal of every patient in England having access to “digital first primary care” by 2024.’

The rise of telemedicine

Telemedicine is improving accessibility to quality healthcare by eliminating barriers such as cost and distance from the equation. Thanks to these telemedicine systems, such as Babylon Health, patients are no longer limited to the providers in their area or buildings that are physically accessible to them according to their needs. Not only have platforms like this been a saving grace during the pandemic, but they are also here to stay:

‘Beyond the exceptional circumstances of a pandemic, it’s easy to see the appeal of virtual consultations. Patients can enjoy shorter waiting times and greater flexibility around their schedules. Meanwhile, healthcare professionals can be more productive as minor issues are often resolved more quickly.’

Saving time for patients and healthcare professionals alike is the kind of benefit it is impossible to put a price on. Babylon is ‘shifting the focus from sick care to preventative healthcare so that patients experience better health, and reduced costs.’ The costs element will be even more apparent in the move to the US where preventative healthcare has the potential to save vast amounts of money for those without insurance. Costs will be also be lessened for users as they will be paying for one all-encompassing platform.

 

Summary

Though telemedicine is unlikely to replace face-to-face appointments entirely, the service will be here to stay long after the pandemic with many users and clinicians favouring platforms such as Babylon for simple or routine appointments.

Given the current market trends of other telemedicine platforms, Babylon Health is likely to make a spectacular entrance onto the US market.

About the Author: Leo Hynett

Leo Hynett is a contributing Features Writer, with a particular interest in Culture, the Arts and LGBTQ+ Politics.

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