Ultimately, they are correct, and the economics of healthcare's status quo are only deteriorating. In an excerpt from the EU Commission's 2018 aging report, you begin to realize we are staring into the abyss of a multi-decade increase in healthcare costs and a declining tax-base to support it:
The old-age dependency ratio (people aged 65 and above relative to those aged 15 to 64) in the EU is projected to increase by 21.6 pps. over the projection period, from 29.6% in 2016 to 51.2% in 2070. This implies that the EU would go from having 3.3 working-age people for every person aged over 65 years to only two working-age persons. Most of this increase is driven by the very old-age dependency ratio (people aged 80 and above relative to those aged 15-64) which is rising by 14 pps. (8.3% to 22.3%) over this horizon.
In other words, we need to do more with less. We need productivity in healthcare, and we need to address the two highest costs... skilled personnel and physical real estate.
This is precisely what Babylon is attempting to target through the use of an AI 'chatbot' to assist in patient interaction and by doing so on the phone from wherever the patient might be. Is it perfect? No, not yet. There have certainly been growing pains raised in the media, yet the disruption to a more productive healthcare system will be far less painful than the collapse of economics of the status quo. With global healthcare costs nearing $8 trillion, Babylon will not be the last technology company to bring productivity to healthcare, and a $2B valuation is just the start.
We’re at a moment right now when it seems like a daily occurrence that a new company or service launches using AI to advance health.