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Babylon Health inks deal with Telus Health to hand off Canadian operations


UK-based health chatbot Babylon Health is selling off its operations in Canada to former partner Telus Health in a licensing deal projected to be worth roughly $70 million, Business Insider reports.

The pair previously inked a deal in 2019 to create Babylon by Telus Health, which allowed users to describe their symptoms to a text-based bot, consult with a provider via video, and store medical information and notes. At the time of the deal, the app was focused on Canada’s British Columbia region.

“We are delighted to have signed a new long-term strategic partnership and multi-year licensing agreement with TELUS,” a spokesperson from Babylon wrote in an email to MobiHealthNews. “With Babylon’s focus on the delivery and deployment of our high quality AI powered technology platform, TELUS will take on operational control of Babylon Canada, while still leveraging Babylon’s service delivery expertise and experience.This agreement represents an exciting new chapter, strengthening our partnership with TELUS, and enabling us to continue to innovate in the development and delivery of healthcare technology and services for the benefit of our members, clients and stakeholders across Canada and around the world.”

WHY IT MATTERS

While Babylon is quickly expanding its international footprint, this deal signals that the company is also willing to work with local partners. According to the Business Insider report, Telus will continue to use Babylon’s tech but run the operational end of Babylon Canada.

THE LARGER TREND

Babylon is a very well-funded company. In 2019, it landed a whopping $550 million in Series C funding from Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund, which brought the company’s valuation to over $2 billion.

Babylon has been most active in its native UK. Its GP at Hand service is a collaboration with the NHS that gives patients a virtual front door to care. In June 2020, the company was in hot water for a data breach that allowed patients to access recordings of other patients’ consultations on the app.

However, the company has been expanding its global footprint. In March 2020, Babylon inked a deal with Rwanda’s government to give every person over the age of 12 access to digital health consultations. It has also been looking to North America. In 2020, Babylon launched its triage chatbot in the U.S. At the beginning of March, it announced an expansion of its Babylon 360 value-based healthcare offering to nearly 50,000 additional Medicare Advantage and Medi-Cal members living in California.

Telus Health is the healthcare arm of Canadian mobile operator Telus. Over the years, the company has rolled out a slew of digital tools, including a mental health app specifically for frontline workers and a tool for chronic disease management.

Late last year, news reports circulated that Telus had purchased virtual care provider EQ Care to boost its virtual care efforts.



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