A primarily digital GP service has published research which shows its patients incurred acute hospital costs between 15% and 35% lower than the regional average.
It said the lower costs were incurred over consecutive years, during a period in which its registered population doubled in size.
The peer-reviewed research entitled The effect of 24/7, digital-first NHS primary care on acute hospital spend: a retrospective, observational analysis has been published in the Journal of Medical Internet Research.
It compared the spend per patient at the Babylon GP at Hand practice to all other practices in the North West London region, with comparison results adjusted for patient healthcare need, using standard NHS methods.
The practice said the research builds on findings from an independent NHS evaluation, which reported that A&E attendance rates reduced by 28% after members joined the service.
It has more than 100,000 registered patients in the London and Birmingham areas with more than 80% of appointments conducted virtually.
The firm was established in 2013 in the US and said its mission is to make high-quality healthcare accessible and affordable for everyone on Earth, while shifting the focus from sick care to preventative healthcare so patients experience better health and reduced costs.
Earlier this month, Health & Protection explored the soaring availability and use of Virtual GPs over the last 18 months and how remote healthcare may continue developing.
The practice argued that if replicated the results could prove a game-changer to the way healthcare operates across the world.
Savings outweigh additional investment
Commenting on the findings, Dr Sam Winward, strategy director at Babylon Health and lead author of the paper, said the results showed Babylon’s approach to digital-first primary care was 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,” he said.
“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.”
Ali Parsa, CEO of Babylon, said: “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 Sanghavi, CMO of Babylon 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.”