Health technology provider babylon, has launched a ground-breaking app, which it hopes will tackle the stigma surrounding mental health issues.
The new platform, which is currently available in the UK, gives patients access to on-demand phone or video consultations with therapists, at a time and place that suits them. And it has the potential to overhaul society’s entire approach to therapeutic services.
In addition to babylon’s previous app, which allowed users access to unlimited consultations, text exchanges and prescription services, babylon Therapy offers one-off therapist or specialist sessions lasting 50 minutes, which can be booked for a fee of £49.
And the team behind it believe babylon Therapy can address several of the key barriers facing individuals when trying to access treatment – specifically cultural stigmas.
Speaking about the app, Dr. Ali Parsa, babylon Founder & CEO, explained how mental health issues have become a modern day epidemic, with many people suffering in silence. But he hopes babylon can help eradicate the problem.
“Many organisations and individuals within the public, voluntary and private sector are working hard to tackle various aspects of the problem, but a lot more is needed. babylon is taking a big step today to provide a modern solution to this modern epidemic and we would love to work with others and the NHS to expand the service to all that need it,” he said.
Before launching babylon, Dr Parsa grew previous company, Circle, to become Europe’s largest partnership of clinicians. With over 3,000 employees and a successful IPO, the pioneering healthcare group, which transformed a number of healthcare providers, including Cambridge Hospital, generated a turnover of over £200M in annual revenue.
Looking to repeat his success with babylon, Dr Parsa is one of a number of entrepreneurs hoping to bridge the gap between the healthcare sector and technology, and capitalise on the rise of smartphone use.
A number of investors are also pouring billions of dollars into the growing market. Fortune reports that venture funding grew 200 percent for healthcare startups between 2012-2014 and currently at least 500 million smartphone users worldwide are already downloading health-related apps.
But when it comes to health services, disrupting such a rigid and regulated structure, where UK consumers in particular have clear expectations in terms of associated costs, privacy policies and the credentials of those giving out advice, will take time.
However, Dr Parsa believes that if his team are able to change consumer attitudes now, within the next five to ten years, the possibilities could be endless.