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Posted on January 5, 2017 by staff

NHS to trial AI alternative to emergency 111 helpline

The NHS is to trial an AI alternative to the emergency 111 helpline from this month.

A six-month trial will see 1.2 million residents in North and Central London with non-life threating conditions directed to an app which attempts to determine the urgency of a problem and what to do next.

Use of the app, developed by London-based Babylon Health, asks users a series of questions and filters through a database containing the symptoms of every known illness.

The system is said to be 12 times more efficient that the current human-based model.

Babylon founder and CEO Ali Parsa told the Financial Times: “They have armies of people sitting there on the phone, costing them a fortune.

“If they get sick, they need a replacement in place. The cost difference is not little, it’s huge.”

Each call to the NHS 111 helpline is reported to cost between £12 and £16 at a time when the Health Service is creaking and under pressure to make efficiency savings.

DeepMind co-founders Demis Hassabis and Mustafa Suleyman have invested in Babylon, which was founded in 2013.