NHS Competition? Samsung Phones Bring AI Medical Consultations in the UK


UK’s National Health Services (NHS) will soon have some new competition for patients who do not have an emergency. Financial Times reports that Samsung struck a deal with Babylon to include AI-powered medical consultations on all Samsung smartphones sold in the UK.

The service is similar to “GP at Hand” (pictured above), a partnership between Babylon and NHS that allows patients to book consultations with general practitioners using video chat. Samsung will pre-install a similar feature, along with a symptoms checker, on all of its phones sold in the UK.

However, while the Health app will be shipped on every device, its features will be available only through payments. Users will have to pay £50 (US$67) for a yearly license or £25 (US$33) for a one-off consultation.

While users might be happy to skip an inconvenient doctor’s appointment, some NHS staff are not too happy about this news. At the end of March, NHS staff took to the streets to protest “GP at Hand,” accusing the service of “cherry-picking younger, healthier patients” and taking away the funds that clinics would use for patients of more serious needs.

“It is taking resources from local NHS general practices that offer long-term care to all… Sick patients inevitably use more of the available funding and resources, but the system is fair because we all eventually end up in the group that’s sick,” said Dr. Jackie Applebee.

Even with these criticisms and the further privatization of medical services their partnership creates, Samsung and Babylon will continue to move forward with their plan.

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