May 17, 2020

Babylon Health partners with Tencent in a bid to enter the Chinese market

Digital health
Catherine Sturman
3 min
WeChat (Getty Images)
Through a new partnership, global juggernaut Tencent and UK health technology start-up Babylon Health are set to leveraging Babylon’s artificial intel...

Through a new partnership, global juggernaut Tencent and UK health technology start-up Babylon Health are set to leveraging Babylon’s artificial intelligence system. The move will see both parties work to deliver personal health assessments, treatment advice and individual health records across mainland China.

At present Tencent’s WeChat platform houses up to 1bn users, where the app has now partnered with over 38,000 medical facilities in China. Babylon, on the other hand, has sought to further expand its market reach and product capabilities by partnering with healthcare services globally, working with the UK’s National Health Service, as well as private healthcare company, Bupa in a bid to optimise operations, drive further quality and lower healthcare costs.

The company has also partnered with the Rwandan government to revolutionise the delivery of patient-centered services in the country, as well as the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

"Rwanda was the first country in the world to see drones take flight to deliver lifesaving supplies to medical centres. Now the government of Rwanda is embracing cutting edge artificial intelligence by partnering with Babylon Health to ensure that every Rwandan who needs healthcare can access it,” explained Dr Diane Gashumba, Minister of Health for Rwanda.

By interacting directly with users, Babylon’s AI system will be able to identify specific illnesses, provide health status assessments, and triage necessary actions. For example, when a user describes his or her symptoms or conditions to the system, Babylon’s artificial intelligence can analyse and form a personal assessment based on those inputs, while making recommendations as to whether the user should seek further consultation with a doctor.

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Babylon Health is developing AI technology that has the potential to provide accessible, affordable healthcare services to everyone. So far, Babylon Health’s membership base has grown to more than 1.4mn people, spanning Europe, Asia and Africa.

Additionally, Tencent has also been propelling digital applications in the area of health and medical services, through tools such as AI to improve the capability and balance of healthcare resources. Its initiatives have been covering the entire trail from general health services to disease management, and all segments of the value chain, as well as corresponding real-life scenarios. This collaboration with Babylon will become another footprint by Tencent in the realm of big healthcare.

“Tencent is committed to improve our users’ lives through the means of digitalisation and technology,” commented Meng Zhang, General Manager of Tencent Medical.”

“We have identified Babylon as one of the leaders in this technology worldwide and aim to partner with them to put it into the hands of Chinese consumers.”

Dr Ali Parsa, Babylon Health’s CEO, said: “Tencent is consistently striving to enhance the life of the people of China. In health, Tencent and Babylon share the same ethos about making healthcare accessible for all. This is a partnership for Babylon to work with one of the tech giants in China, to bring quality digital health service to Chinese people.”

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May 13, 2021

Birdie aims to reinvent elderly care with tech

3 min
We take a look at homecare software startup Birdie, who are aiming to transform elderly care in the UK

British startup Birdie has announced it has raised £8.2 million to invest in innovation and scale up the business. 

The company's announcement is timely as it follows the criticism of the UK government over their lack of a plan for social care, despite acknowledging the sector is in crisis - around a quarter of the UK's home care providers are on the brink of bankruptcy due to a lack of funds and staffing. 

Birdie was born with a mission to  "radically improve the lives of millions of older adults", by using app-based solutions, IoT and machine learning to put preventative care at the forefront.  The company was founded by Max Parmentier,  after experiencing his own frustrations with the care system - his grandfather struggled with the impact of life in a care home, but lacked any other option. 

In 2017 Parmentier partnered with venture builder Kamet Ventures to  set up Birdie, in a bid to fix this problem. Since then, Birdie has partnered with almost 500 providers across the UK, and supports more than 20,000 older people every week. In the past 12 months alone the number of people Birdie supports has got six times greater. 

Birdie’s solution is an app to help care providers deliver more coordinated, personalised and preventative care, by giving them access to digital assessments, medication scheduling and planning tools. By using digital tools to take care of admin, staff have more time to spend with their care recipients. 

The new investment will be used to fund Birdie’s next phase of growth in the UK, as the company scales to meet the rapidly growing demand of the aging population. The company will also invest in product innovation, creating new features to address customer requests.

In addition, Birdie is piloting new care models, including partnering with the NHS to identify COVID-19 symptoms, building predictive pharmacy models with AI, and helping health authorities to detect early warning signs of patients’ health risks.

Internally, Birdie is committed to having a progressive company ethos. All salaries are transparent, and staff work asynchronously to maximise flexibility and equity. Staff members also volunteer in their local community during office hours, and the company offsets all its emissions.

These efforts have led to numerous awards, including having the best SME culture in the UK, an Honorable Mention in the Health category of Fast Company’s 2021 World Changing Ideas Awards, and innovation in care at the LangBuisson awards. 

“We believe the future of care for older people should be helping them to live at home for as long as possible through the delivery of personalised and preventative care" Parmentier said. 

"Birdie is already the partner of choice for caregivers up and down the UK, and this new funding will help us rapidly increase the number we partner with and what we can offer them - meaning more people benefiting from more affordable, quality care. We’re proud of our mission and the values we embody to pursue it.” 

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