Babylon Health, a British-based AI startup, intends to invest a whopping $100 million in the recruitment of over 500 engineers, scientists, and researchers over the coming year in an effort to grow the use of AI in healthcare.
According to the startup’s Chief Executive Ali Parsa, the move will catapult Babylon’s current team to over 1,000 staff. Furthermore, he said that the company would ultimately shift into its new London-based headquarters in the course of the coming 18 months to accommodate the new recruits.
The artificial intelligence (AI) research will be an upgrade of the software that Babylon Health exhibited back in June. According to the startup, its AI at the moment can evaluate common conditions more accurate compared to doctors.
The concept behind this is to grow the AI from primary care to assist in the diagnosis and managing of chronic diseases, which is at the moment threatening to overpower the NHS health service in the UK.
Babylon Health’s announcement corresponded with an endorsement made by health secretary Matt Hancock. He pledged to transform the NHS through technology.
Despite its remarkable efforts, Babylon Health has elicited criticism and scrutiny from the medical community. Doctors, for instance, have leveled concerns against the “GP at Hand”application, which offers video appointments to patients through an app.
The concern is that Babylon Health would get NHS funding, primarily for taking care of fitter, younger patients who would otherwise be more likely to utilize a digital service. In turn, this undertaking would leave physical GP surgeries with the expense and burden of taking care of elderly patients with complicated needs.
Also, Babylon Health has received criticism from doctors, particularly regarding the company’s AI chatbot claims in June. According to them, its claims had not undergone peer-reviewing.
In a telephone conversation with Business Insider, Ali Parsa said that the claims that the company was only looking after younger patients are “complete nonsense.” When asked whether the company would submit its artificial intelligence (AI) research for peer review, he claimed that the model of waiting about 18 months before submissions are accepted to an academic journal was obsolete.
“One person every few seconds is using our technology. We published the paper, we showed the methodology… the only thing we didn’t do was this situation of waiting 18 months for a peer-reviewed paper,” said Ali Parsa, citing a net promoter score of 82, a metric that is normally utilized to measure customer satisfaction by marketing departments.
According to Parsa, Babylon Health had to submit all its paperwork to medical organizations including the US Food and Drug Administration and the MHRA. “Everybody can see our methodology but this peer-review model … which two giants of journals advocate massively, was created in the 19th century, when science moved at snail pace.” (Scientific American suggests the inception of peer review was back in 1731.)
When asked whether Babylon Health is currently profitable, he said licensing the company’s tech to partners like Chinese Internet giant and Samsung was a lucrative move. He also claimed that the startup was mainly focused on growing and expanding its potential.