With the healthcare world rapidly shifting to one of personalization and lower costs, Babylon Health saw an opportunity to significantly expand and improve its service via groundbreaking cloud applications. Using Cassandra, Babylon has been able to build highly personalized, mobile-based, 24-7 healthcare service while securing its customers’ valuable data.
Babylon has one aim — to provide a complete, personalized health care service to everyone. With a team of scientists, data engineers, clinicians, and mathematicians, Babylon is building a new platform for delivering patient services and consultations that can be available around the clock, regardless of how someone wants to be treated or where they happen to be.
To power this new way of delivering health care, Babylon required an always-on, secure, and scalable platform for patient data. To achieve this, the company’s data team turned to Apache Cassandra. Babylon could grow its IT infrastructure alongside the expansion of its patient base.
Scaling Up Healthcare for Everyone
Getting a doctor consultation at a time that suits you can be incredibly difficult, especially at short notice. At the same time, the ubiquity of mobile phones and the availability of online services is leading to the development of new health care models for the future. Digital health care provider Babylon is leading the market, using a combination of video consultations with a new AI-powered symptom checker to manage patient interactions.
Babylon wanted to support its expansion and continue offering its members real-time, personalized health advice via mobile devices. At the same time, it has to deliver the highest levels of security, privacy, and access control, keeping patient records secure at all times.
Babylon’s AI Cognition team is led by Mohammad Khodadadi, the company’s Director of Data. He is responsible for ensuring that the company’s data platform is able to meet the company’s plans for growth internationally while being fit for the purpose of complex intelligent solutions. “Our company has to meet some of the most stringent security and service requirements you can imagine,” Khodadadi said. “Our data operation team had to be completely confident that our data platform could scale up alongside our company goals. We had to be sure that it had security built-in from the start, and it had to have the same approach to data that we had in mind for the future. Based on the technologies available on the market, we chose Apache Cassandra to support our growth.”
The data team at Babylon chose Cassandra for its ability to scale up with the company’s expansion within existing markets and into new ones. For countries where Babylon was expanding its patient and customer numbers, additional resources could be added by simply adding more nodes to the Babylon service. To support new countries, additional locations or cloud providers could be added to the overall Babylon service while management of these locations can be kept secure.
“From a management perspective, adding more resources to Cassandra is simple,” Khodadadi said. “Whether it’s adding a new node to a cluster, or adding in a whole new location, we can achieve this easily in line with the requirements that the business has. Cassandra also provides role-based access control, so we can lock down access to patient data to only those that are allowed access.”
Expanding Patient Services Based on AI and Data
Over time, Babylon has expanded the range of services that can be provided, from video consultations with doctors and healthcare professionals to communicate through text messages, video messaging, and now Artificial Intelligence technology. The company’s new symptom checker service interacts with users via a chat interface in natural language; it recognizes symptoms and medical terminology and can then recommend the most appropriate next steps for patients to take.
“When you are dealing with patients, you can have a huge number of ways that people can express themselves as well as a mix of different ways of communicating as well,” Khodadadi explained. “Our response to this was to develop an AI system that combined many of the latest advances in semantics and machine learning with a simple interface that patients could use to get more detail on their symptoms and risk factors. We use Cassandra to help process all this data and provide advice on what patients should do using this service.”
Babylon runs graph analytics to track and analyze data during each patient session, then uses this information over time to personalize healthcare recommendations and interactions. Khodadadi commented: “Graph analytics is great for showing relationships between data points, and this can be very valuable in a healthcare scenario. By looking at data in different ways within the same platform, we can support more in-depth interactions with patients and improve health care outcomes.”
Supporting the Future of Healthcare
With Cassandra, Babylon is able to deploy applications in the cloud around the world while keeping firm control over where specific sets of data are stored, who has access to them, and how that data is used over time. This includes managing data across multiple cloud services worldwide depending on which partners will be best to support the company’s goals in each country or region.
“We chose Cassandra because it works at a massive scale and it can operate across multiple clouds rather than being restricted to a certain cloud provider. We have to support Babylon entering multiple markets worldwide and serving thousands or millions of patients every day—already, the company is developing new partnerships and entering markets including China, North America, Southeast Asia, and countries across the Middle East. Using Cassandra, we can deliver real-time consultations and prepare for international growth as we expand our operations, ” commented Khodadadi.
Alongside partnering with the UK’s National Health Service in delivering innovative patient consultations via video and chat, Babylon has launched its services in Ireland and Rwanda. The company already supports more than 2.6 million members across these countries, with the potential to scale up to millions more. Babylon has already signed major partnerships with Samsung to deliver more health care services in the UK and Ireland, as well as with Tencent to cover mainland China.
“As a company, we have an audacious goal to improve healthcare for everyone. New technologies will be essential to delivering on this, and Cassandra provides the foundation for our growth.”