Championing innovation for improved patient outcomes

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NHS technology innovation in healthcare a doctor leading the way in modern medicine

The NHS has a storied legacy of groundbreaking research and innovation, sparking advancements in health prevention, diagnostics, treatments, and pandemic management, notably during the COVID-19 crisis. This ingenuity not only revolutionizes patient lives but also bestows substantial benefits upon the UK’s economy and society.

In the current milieu, where the healthcare system grapples with the aftermath of the pandemic and prolonged industrial action, fostering innovation within the NHS is more critical than ever.

CREDIT: This is an edited version of an article that originally appeared on NHS England

While NHS’s commitment to supporting the adoption of innovation is stronger than ever, the barriers that slow and stall them also remain. Learning from both successes and failures, they have identified five key areas crucial for success:

  • Clinical leadership: Success often hinges on strong local and national clinical leadership. Clinical networks and early dialogue with professional bodies on the evidence base for adoption is crucial.
  • Pathway redesign and capacity: Introducing innovation often means that whole clinical pathways have to be redesigned. This requires clinical capacity, resource allocation, clinical leadership, co-production with users and clear guidance. This approach, which is more holistic than focusing on an individual product, helps embed lasting transformation.
  • Funding and incentives: Central funding has proven effective in driving change but not sustaining it. A more consistent sustainable approach involves using payment frameworks to help bring clarity and certainty around who pays for what. In addition, enhanced horizon scanning and market intelligence is enabling a more commercially orientated outlook which supports the NHS to invest in the innovations that make the biggest difference to patients.
  • National vs local approaches: Historically, programmes supporting the adoption of innovation have followed a national approach. However, different incentive and reimbursement approaches are often required for different settings. The newly relicensed Health Innovation Networks are well placed to adapt national aims to more local approaches and priorities identified by population health management.
  • Defining adoption stages: Innovators, clinicians, industry and evaluators need clarity as to where innovations are in the process of taking a product from proof of concept to market and wider adoption in the NHS and care system. The NHS Innovation Service is a free, online platform supporting innovators to get the right support at the right time. In addition, work is ongoing to develop a common innovation taxonomy to define stages of MedTech innovation and bring clarity to which products require what support and we are developing policy and guidance on how digital products should be defined.

 

Health and care leaders possess an opportunity to wield innovation and research as potent tools in addressing current challenges. The known ingredients for success can pave the way for collaborative efforts, creating an NHS and care system that nurtures innovation, propelling it to enhance patient and population outcomes, delivering accessible, integrated, and personalised care.

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