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Brent is a Guinea Pig for Ali Parsa

By MadAsHelll&NotGoingtoTakeitAnymore, Sep 10 2017 08:57PM

Can Brent NHS commissioners tell their apps from their elbow?

Gaynor Lloyd, a Brent Patient Participation Group Core Group rep, thinks not.

In July this year she discovered that GP practices in Brent were thinking about starting to trial the very expensive Babylon app for private GP services, produced by Ali Parsa, Founder and CEO of Babylon Healthcare.

Or perhaps that they already had - confusingly, the Brent NHS commissioners’ paper also said the trial was already underway in a number of practices and the “pilot in Brent has seen 1450 visits”.

Gaynor is particularly concerned as her large practice has recently lost 2 of its 4 fulltime GP's. The Babylon app promises to “put a GP in your pocket” and claims that its symptom checker is safer and more accurate than GPs’ and nurses’ advice.

Babylon app’s unevidenced claims

GP and author Dr Margaret McCartney has asked for evidence to support Babylon’s app, as its claims are not founded on an independent, real life study that is capable of examining real life harms.

Dr McCartney states that

...“non evidence based policy making, and serial IT innovations, have wasted money and provided poor value for patients.”

She’s been asking for details of the North London pilot since March 2017 but has received no details about the evaluation, assessment of safety and accuracy or the financial arrangement between the NHS and Babylon.

Freedom of Information requests for details of app trial and patient data protection

Gaynor has pointed out that patients need to be informed if they are to be part of a pilot/trial, but Brent NHS Commissioners have responded with prevarications and obfuscations.

At the July Brent Council Community and Wellbeing Scrutiny Committee meeting,the CCG officer said it was "just one of the apps being looked at. In terms of risk assessment, as a clinical tool it is perfectly safe. It has to pass clinical governance standards.”

The CCG officer added "the trials don't choose a patient; it's a choice by the patient through the practice.

It is up to the patient to share their data; the patient clicks on the app and the app shares the information itself."

Just how many questions does that beg?

The CCG officer said that the Brent trial had not yet started but she "believed" it has started in North Central London. NW London is only "looking at it" in particular on "information governance and whether it's an option". 

It has subsequently transpired that the app trial in Brent has not yet started, but expressions of interest in piloting it have come from two Brent practices (both of which are run by AT Medics - a private company that describes itself as the largest provider of primary care in London. NHS England notes a number of innovations that AT Medics has developed in direct response to NHS England’s General Practice Forward View.

Neither the Privacy Impact Assessment nor the Information Sharing Agreement yet exist.

Fighting corporate interests in access to patient data.

Following the Information Commissioner’s decision in the Deepmind and Royal Free Hospital case,

that patient data sharing between the Royal Free Hospital and Deep Mind was illegal, Gaynor sent a FOI request about data protection in the Babylon app trial.

She is still awaiting the result of her appeal against a partial refusal to respond.

Brent CCG say that they have no "obligation to seek the views of the National Data Guardian or the Information Commissioners Office for a project such as this."

They claim that Babylon's terms and conditions and the still-to-be finalised Privacy Impact Assessment and Information Sharing Agreement will protect the patients.

Gaynor said, “If you believe that you’ll believe anything. Just look at Baylon’s privacy terms and the partners and suppliers they can share app users’ data with”

The NW London Sustainability and Transformation Partnership Clinical Advisory Group on Whole Systems integrated Care has

"Agreed that incorporating Babylon 111 Data into Whole System Integrated Care Data Warehouse would be clinically useful, with need to explore possible visualisations of data to fulfil direct care purpose"

Gaynor is referring these and related data protection issues to the ICO.

Joint Health Scrutiny Meeting notes here:

COMING UP NEXT in part 2... meet the backers, feel the disruption

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