Ali Parsa, the man who founded private health firm Circle, has launched an app to allow users to see GPs and specialist doctors via video link, order prescriptions and monitor their symptoms.
Mr Parsa said the “Babylon” app, which allows users to contact GPs via text and photo messaging and set up virtual consultations, would give people a “virtual health service in [their] pocket”.
A company statement said: “If needed, patients can get instant referrals to the very best specialists, prescriptions can be delivered to their home, or to a pharmacy nearby, and consultations can be stored and saved, so patients can always check what has been said.
“If the doctor recommends a test, X-ray or scan, babylon will make it as easy as possible and has partnerships with facilities within 30 minutes drive of 90 per cent of the UK population. In certain areas, babylon will arrange a nurse to visit the patient.”
The basic service costs adult users £7.99 a month. This gives users access to virtual GP consultations six days a week, prescription services, as well as symptom checker and monitoring services.
Further services beyond this point are charged for. For example, a consultation with one of the service’s specialist consultants is priced at £49; a price Mr Parsa said was good value compared with Harley Street equivalents.
The former Goldman Sachs banker, renowned for his ambition, said he wanted to do for healthcare what “Amazon has done for with the delivery of goods and Apple has done with the delivery of music”.
The company is registered with the Care Quality Commission and receive designated body status from the NHS England.
Chief medical officer, Paul Glynne, formerly medical director of University College Hospitals London Foundation Trust said the company had around 100 doctors, both GPs and specialists, on its books so far.
None are full time employees. They are paid for by time rather than the number of consultations on a rate Mr Parsa said was comparable with other roles across the private healthcare industry.
Dr Glynne said: “Existing models of healthcare have become increasingly inefficient, expensive and inconvenient for patients. However, the current revolution in digital health technology presents exciting opportunities to radically change and improve models of healthcare delivery.
The company has secured various partnership arrangements with private healthcare insurers including Aviva UK Health and Bupa.
Bupa’s corporate director Patrick Watt said: “At Bupa we are fully supportive of innovations that help to make high quality healthcare accessible to more people.
“Babylon is an excellent example of this innovation, which has the potential to change the way people access care. We are excited about the partnership.”