Sunday 22 September 2019 4:24 pm

NHS software delays cause headache for digital health firm Babylon

British health startup Babylon has suffered a setback to its expansion plans after the NHS missed the deadline to upgrade a key piece of software.

The London-based firm, which connects patients with doctors through a video chat service, won approval in June to expand its operations to Birmingham.

Read more: US health firm Centene invests in digital health startup Babylon

Babylon’s service in the city is currently capped at 2,600 patients, and further expansion is reliant on an upgrade to a key piece of referral software.

The NHS was due to upgrade the system before the latest meeting of Hammersmith and Fulham Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG), where Babylon is based.

But the NHS missed the deadline, meaning the health firm has been forced to delay its expansion.

“It’s disappointing that Hammersmith and Fulham CCG’s third-party providers haven’t been able to put their technical solutions in place,” a Babylon spokesperson said.

“However, we’ve been reassured there won’t be a long delay and we are ready and waiting patiently until they have their systems in place.”

Babylon was founded in 2013 by entrepreneur Ali Parsa, and now has more than 50,000 patients registered to its GP at Hand service.

Read more: Saudi Arabian wealth fund set to invest in digital health startup Babylon

In August the company secured a $2bn (£1.6bn) valuation after its latest funding round led by Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund and US healthcare giant Centene.

Babylon has won the support of health secretary Matt Hancock, but the firm has faced criticism over its potential impact on existing GP practices, while some doctors have questioned the accuracy of its chatbot service.

Main image credit: Getty