Chief Executive, HIN
There are huge opportunities for technology and data innovation to help staff and patients, but clinical teams and innovators find the NHS hard to navigate.
Innovations in life sciences can benefit patients, staff and populations. With the advent of better technology platforms and increased use of mobile phones and tablets, I am excited about the opportunity to improve the lives of healthcare workers. But to be adopted, a product has to address a high-priority, urgent issue (ie. ‘top 5’ now) and consist of a team with the capability to do it.
Tech benefits for healthcare staff
The four most promising uses of technology for healthcare staff, in my opinion, are:
- Intelligent automation of note-taking and transcription;
- Scheduling of staff rotas;
- Remote working and communications technology to help at times of overload;
- Training and wellbeing support.
There is more detail about these here.
Building an evidence base on efficiency and financial impact is essential but should
be alongside — not instead of — strong user experience and patient outcome data.
Reducing health inequalities for patients
For patients, we have to balance impact on outcomes, how quickly benefits are seen, how disruptive it is to current processes and, importantly, how it impacts health inequalities as there are concerns that innovation could exacerbate these.
This is often overstated as products can reduce health inequalities by:
- Being designed to be accessible to all populations
- Targeting an underserved population (eg. HEAL-D supports people with diabetes of African and Caribbean heritage)
- Being complementary to current services and freeing up capacity in services to support those who are underserved
These provide efficiency savings, which attract financial attention. Building an evidence base on efficiency and financial impact is essential but should be alongside — not instead of — strong user experience and patient outcome data.
Hence, we are seeing procurement approaches using dynamic market engagement require ongoing data from real-world use to validate the impact after purchase.
Challenges and opportunities in health tech
NICE has recently announced its Early Value Assessment (EVA) framework, which we supported and provides a good way to evaluate technology proportionate to the risk and impact of the products. Our own report on procurement, specifically around remote monitoring technology, highlights the challenges and opportunities in this market.
Given the complexity of the system, there isn’t yet a single way to develop and adopt all possible innovations. But a common approach across government departments, NHS, regulators and increasing alignment with Integrated Care Boards is making it easier to adopt and spread innovation.