Understanding the Importance of Evaluation in Innovation

The AHSNs play a hugely important role but are often overlooked. I would thoroughly recommend a placement at an AHSN for anyone else on the NHS Graduate Management Training Scheme.

Chandra Banerjee recently joined the HIN for an eight-week placement as part of the NHS Graduate Management Training Scheme. Here he writes about what he learnt from working on evaluation and shares advice for other graduates.

Before joining the HIN, I had worked at a tech start-up, where I briefly came across Academic Health Science Networks (AHSNs). After joining the graduate scheme, I again briefly interacted with an AHSN during my operational placement working on technology implementation. As part of the scheme, I would be doing an eight-week placement at an organisation of my choosing, and due to my interest in innovation and transformation my Director of Strategy suggested the HIN. He put me in touch with Rishi, the HIN’s Chief Executive, to find out more.

Rishi painted a comprehensive picture of the role AHSNs play in fast-tracking the adoption of new technology, ways of working, and evaluation of programmes. I could see how valuable it was and wanted to be a part of it. From my experiences in implementing electronic patient record (EPR) systems, I knew the importance of robust evaluation of implementation processes and outcome KPIs in sharing good practice, disseminating new technology across the system and demonstrating value for money. Luckily, there was an opportunity to work on evaluation at the HIN.

I joined the DigitalHealth.London Team at the HIN in November 2022, working on evaluating the Evidence Generation Bootcamp. The bootcamp is designed to help digital health companies get the evidence they need to demonstrate their products are suited to the NHS. The Insight and Evaluation team and other academic collaborators provided guidance how to develop an evaluation proposal and study design through a hands-on approach. I was encouraged to interact with the companies, design the study tools, collect data, analyse it in line with the protocols and formulate my first evaluation piece.

I’m hugely passionate about the potential for evaluation to drive improvement, and this role allowed me to see first-hand how AHSNs like the HIN can help new products go from development through to implementation. I got a lot of support from colleagues to develop my skills and learned a huge amount which I’m looking forward to applying in my innovation journey within the NHS.

The AHSNs play a hugely important role but are often overlooked. I would thoroughly recommend a placement at an AHSN for anyone else on the management training scheme. They can help broaden your understanding of bringing products and services into the system, and evaluation is a skill which is relevant for almost any role. AHSNs are also uniquely placed to give you an understanding of the whole spectrum of the health and care system. They offer a chance to work on a wide range of clinical themes at the cutting edge of developments which offer the opportunity to massively improve outcomes for patients.

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Find out more about the Graduate Management Training Scheme.

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Meet the innovator: Ross Harper

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In this edition, we catch up with Ross Harper, CEO of Limbic a cutting-edge software that drives information within psychological therapy to enhance mental healthcare in the UK.

Tell us about your innovation in a sentence:

Limbic is making the highest quality mental healthcare available to everyone, everywhere, regardless of socioeconomic factors. Our flagship product, Limbic Access, is the world's first AI mental health chatbot to have achieved Class IIa UK medical device status, and has helped over 130,000 NHS patients enter care, releasing over 30,000 clinical hours for NHS Talking Therapies services.

What was the ‘lightbulb’ moment?

The lightbulb moment was speaking to NHS clinicians. From this we learned some important lessons:

  1. many existing digital solutions have an issue around patient engagement and are under-utilised, and;
  2. many clinicians remain over-stretched and this is a crucial bottleneck in the care journey.

We realised we could use our AI not only to support patients but also clinicians. We found ways to make clinicians’ lives easier, freeing up their time and headspace to focus on other aspects of care, and supporting a truly personalised experience for patients, which was reflected in reduced wait times, improved recovery rates, and improved patient experience.

What three bits of advice would you give budding innovators?

1. Be problem focussed (innovators exist to solve the world’s biggest problems)

2. Be customer obsessed (they know more than you about their problems)

3. Be willing to let go of your initial hypotheses in response to new data

What’s been your toughest obstacle?

The toughest obstacle has been finding the right balance between innovating at pace while staying compliant. Mental healthcare technology is a relatively new field, and the regulatory landscape is constantly evolving. We have to meet rigorous standards of safety and efficacy to achieve our Class 2 medical device status and ensure our tools provide meaningful help for those who need it most. Although this process was difficult, we are proud of the outcome and confident that this will pave the way for future innovations in mental health technology using AI.

What’s been your innovator journey highlight?

My innovator journey highlight has been the overwhelmingly positive (anonymous) feedback we've received from patients using Limbic Access. To be able to provide relief and aid through AI-based solutions is incredibly rewarding and I'm overwhelmed by the difference we're making in people's lives. It’s the whole reason we started Limbic. To give you an example:

“I feel listened to, and like I was able to pinpoint certain areas that are affecting me.

It has taken me so long to ask for help and this first step has been easier than I thought. Thank you”

Best part of your job now?

Working on cutting edge AI with some of the world's foremost scientists in the field. It really does feel like we are at the beginning of something revolutionary in psychological therapy. Our research team has over 6,000 citations, and we are uniquely placed to combine AI and clinical psychology in a meaningful way. It's truly exciting work! Every day it feels like we are pushing the boundaries of mental healthcare, and it's great to be a part of such an important movement. Our team is passionate about making sure the highest quality care is accessible and affordable for everyone, and we are committed to creating solutions that will make this a reality. I’m genuinely excited to see the next breakthrough to come out of our lab! (Spoiler: it’s coming soon).

If you were in charge of the NHS and care system, what’s the one thing you’d do to speed up health innovation?

I would encourage and ultimately require interoperability between software providers. Mental healthcare, especially with AI technology, requires seamless integration between multiple providers and services. By requiring interoperability across software solutions, we could open up the pathway for innovation and collaboration and create a more efficient process. This would ultimately create opportunities for better patient outcomes and improved access to mental healthcare services.

A typical day for you would include…

The first thing I do each day is talk to Limbic - I need to be a power user of our own AI in order to have insight into our users. I then check in with my direct reports on our goals and objectives for the day, and review key metrics and analytics from our software products to get a sense of how we are performing relative to our goals. After this, I spend some time networking with industry professionals and partners and then I meet with our product team to review any new features or updates. Finally, I end the day by connecting with customers and clients in order to gain insights into how they are using our products and what improvements could be made.

You can find Limbic on Twitter and LinkedIn.

“Let’s embrace the complexity and apply what we know”

Head Shot of Amanda Begley

Digital health adoption is the focus of a newly published set of journal papers, jointly curated by the HIN’s executive director of digital transformation Amanda Begley. Here she reflects on the role of complexity and evidence on digital health adoption and the practical steps available.

With thanks to Frontiers, my co-editors Yiannis KyratsisHarry Scarbrough and Jean-Louis Denis and our 74 authors, we have just completed the editorial for our Research Topic Digital Health Adoption: Looking Beyond the Role of Technology | Frontiers Research Topic (frontiersin.org).

With 50,000 views already and the research topic being in the top three in the journal section, digital health adoption is clearly a hot topic. So, I thought it important to let you know about the open-access articles available to read.

Do read our short editorial – it provides brief summaries of all the articles and has embedded links to help you navigate to which of the 10 in the research topic are of most relevance to your work and thinking.

The editorial also describes four key non-technology related aspects of digital health adoption (co-creation, stakeholder management, ethical and social factors and the need for transparency), and five key levers to adoption:

  1. Understanding and responding to the needs and preferences of diverse individuals and communities
  2. Early and active stakeholder engagement in both design and technology use
  3. Building the capability and confidence of all actors to acknowledge and raise quality, privacy, security and safety concerns
  4. Adopting a holistic, rather than a piecemeal approach to build a supportive ecosystem
  5. Considering seriously the wider ethical implications.

I don’t want to repeat the content of the editorial here, so am instead sharing a couple of reflections:

  • Let’s embrace the complexity: We are increasingly realising the breadth of considerations and capabilities required to implement digital health technologies ethically, equitably, efficaciously, and economically. Although this may feel at times overwhelming, one of the many things I love about the health and care system is that it’s complex, requires careful thought and partnerships – change can be unpredictable, hard won, and takes time. With the growing research and practical insights accumulating, we are now better informed about how to enable technology adoption. Also, national policy work continues, like NHS England and National Institute for Health and Care Excellence’s (NICE) current work on a policy framework for defining the assurance pathway for digital health technologies and NICE’s Early Value Assessment
  • Let’s apply what we know. As an assistant and trainee clinical psychologist and when completing my PhD, reviewing the evidence-base was second nature to me. However, as I moved into commissioning and operational management, I got so busy fire-fighting that I forgot to draw on the evidence (like implementation-, complexity- and behavioural sciences) to inform my efforts to implement innovation and transform care. It’s only been in the last 15 years that I’ve drawn on the rigorously captured findings of the authors included in this series and utilised the vast knowledge that sits in our open access journals like Frontiers, BMJ Open and Implementation Science to name but a few. I know how hard it is to make time for this but doing so gives greater rigour to our efforts.

So digital transformation is not easy, quick or straightforward – but perhaps I’d be bored if it were… 

However, if we continue listening to our users and staff, openly sharing and actively learning from others, and working with colleagues across care settings and sectors then anything’s possible – including digital health adoption at scale for our patients, populations and staff.

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Speak to our team to understand how the HIN could support your organisation with digital transformation projects

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Meet the innovator: Antoine Lever

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In this edition, we catch up with Antoine Lever, Co-founder and Commercial Director of babblevoice, an affordable, high quality and reliable phone system that is purpose-built for primary care providers.

Tell us about your innovation in a sentence:

Babblevoice is a cloud-hosted telephone system for primary care which supports practices, patients and staff across the UK.

What was the ‘lightbulb’ moment?

When we saw how surgeries were being treated by the telephone industry e.g. expensive equipment, functionality that added no value and especially long onerous contracts.

What three bits of advice would you give budding innovators?

  1. Don’t do this alone. Build a great team around you.
  2. Work as closely as possible with your customer and as soon as possible.
  3. Be relentless on quality. Reputation is everything.

What’s been your toughest obstacle?

Initially our biggest obstacle was persuading surgeries that voice over the Internet was reliable. Skype has done a lot of harm. Now our biggest obstacle is joining the relevant frameworks.

What’s been your innovator journey highlight?

My highlight was when I watched a surgery transform from a defensive blame culture into a patient centric culture thanks to babblevoice reporting and remote monitoring features.

Best part of your job now?

The best part of my job is watching practice managers’ faces as I explain how babblevoice can transform their day whilst supporting their staff.

If you were in charge of the NHS and care system, what’s the one thing you’d do to speed up health innovation?

I believe that if there was greater visibility of the problems faced each day by clinicians and administrators that innovators would step up to the challenge.

A typical day for you would include…

A typical day for me would include a briefing from the sales and marketing teams to see which events and opportunities are coming up. I would then meet with the operations team to let them know which surgeries are most likely to want babblevoice installed next month. I like to speak to at least one prospective surgery and one existing customer each day to learn more about their issues and experiences. The rest of my time is normally spent interviewing job applicants.

You can find babblevoice on Twitter and LinkedIn.

Primary Care Automation Grant Winners Announced

The winners of the London Digital First Primary Care Automation Grants have been announced today by the Health Innovation Network, working in partnership with NHS England. Grants of up to £65k will be awarded to projects across London to pilot automation solutions in primary care.

Automation refers to the design and implementation of technologies to provide services with minimal human involvement. Automating high-volume, repetitive, rule-based tasks can improve productivity, efficiency, reliability, compliance, speed and accuracy, colleague morale, and integration between people and process. This can help free up clinical and administrative staff so they can focus on securing the best possible outcomes for patients.

Over £600,000 has been allocated across eleven innovative primary care projects in London. Grant applications were assessed upon the scope, scale, impact, sustainability, and opportunities for spread and adoption of their projects. Pilots will be monitored against agreed metrics over the next 12 months, before being evaluated.

“Primary care faces an ever increasing workload. It is exciting to see these automation pilots provide hope for a range of solutions to tackle this workload with improved outcomes for both staff and patients. It might not be long before we look back and wonder how did we ever manage without some of these automation solutions” - Dr Shanker Vijay London Region GP Clinical Lead Digital First Programme, NHS England 

The grants programme provides a unique opportunity for us to pilot a variety of innovative automation solutions that can transform the way practices manage their workload. We hope that through this work patient care and staff morale will be improved by automated processes freeing up both clinical and administrative staff from some of the most time consuming and repetitive tasks they currently undertake." - Matt Nye, Director, London Digital First Programme

The grant winners are:

Dr Lucy Goodeve-Docker, Lambeth Digital Lead, Lambeth Healthcare Federation South East London

Lambeth Healthcare Federation are using Healthtech-1 automation technology to establish full automation of online registration into the clinical system (EMIS). Automating online patient registrations will allow patients to register within minutes, remove user data errors, reduce administrative data input time, allow accurate demographic collection, and ensure households are appropriately aligned to support safeguarding principles. Health-tech 1 is currently on the DigitalHealth.London Accelerator programme.

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Lucy McLaughlin, Cancer Recovery Program Lead for North Central London (NCL), North Central London ICB - Performance & Transformation Directorate

NCL plan to improve patient appointment non-attendance for cervical screening in Islington by using a SPRYTs AI powered virtual receptionist named Asa, which interacts with patients via WhatsApp and email. Asa incorporates behavioural science approaches and linguistics to change behaviours. This allows Asa to adjust language and other messaging content and design for specific population segments, to optimise attendance at screening appointments.

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Dr Nisha Patel, GP Partner and Trainer, Nightingale Practice in City and Hackney and City and Hackney GP Confederation Clinical Lead

The Nightingale Practice is working with Edenbridge (APEX), to automate workforce rota management, predict patient demand and workforce requirements, highlighting surplus and deficit staffing levels. By applying “rules” around capacity requirements and leave-booking, the administrative burden on practice staff will be reduced and access for patients to GP appointments improved.

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Dr Sian Knight, Executive Partner, Modality Medical Services, Lewisham, SEL

Modality Medical Services are working with their in-house Robotic Process Automation Team to automate pathology results filing, specifically the automation of bowel cancer screening results. A bot will file 'normal' bowel cancer results, automatically send an SMS to patients with normal BCS results (with guidance of when to contact the GP) and communicate with patients that have been identified as not having participated in the BCS.

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Dr Raza Toosy, lead GP, Sutton IT Solutions, and Jagdish Kumar, Head of New Business for Sutton PCNs

The Park Road Medical Centre are working with PatientChase to improve long term condition management and risk stratification in Sutton, Wallington, Cheam, and Carshalton. The automation of self-booking coupled with enhanced risk stratification will allow our centralised call and recall team to focus their efforts on patients with the highest clinical need to access various pro-active health services. A Customer Relationship Management system will be used to record insights through engagement with groups with health inequalities to better understand how best to reach and engage with them.

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Dr Robbie Howell, Clinical IT Lead; and Anastasia Remos, Asthma WAF Project Lead for N1 PCN & Islington GP Federation, NCL

North 1 PCN & Islington GP Federation will be using GP Automate’s Robotic Process Automation functionality to automate processes for clinical and admin staff through 5 automated products: Lab Reports, New Patient Registration, Accurx Asthma Floreys, Accurx BP Floreys and Accurx Diabetes pre-appointment questionnaires. Through automating these manual and time-consuming tasks they intend to improve patient outcomes, workforce satisfaction and sustainability of general practice.

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Dr Joanna Yong, GP Partner at St Andrews Medical Practice, Barnet PCN 2, NCL

Barnet PCN 2 is using Blue Prism’s (BP) cloud-based intelligent software to automate the clinical document workflow process. A bot will determine:

  • no action;
  • coding only,
  • identify specific documents which are coded and go to an allocated team member for a decision, and;
  • further action for low risk pathways such as smear results, appointment letters and follow-ups eg breast screening mammogram results and long term conditions. 

This bid complements existing locally run GP Assistant Programme and complements a second PCN2 cancer based clinical pathway automation. 

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Dr Kiran Nakrani, NCL GP Website Clinical Lead, Barnet PCN 2, NCL

This automation project builds on the EMIS e-safety netting template which is already used across London and aims to track the outcome of important cancer documents via the Health information Exchange (HIE) Cerner portal for patients referred via the two week target pathway. A bot will mimic current process of:

  • identifying the clinical letter;
  • filtering it into the correct process for DNA vs Clinician Workflow;
  • identifying the outcome of the target referral as either DNA or patient contact made by secondary care;
  • advising the referring clinician on next steps.
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Dr Rob Seal, GP at Lavender Hill Group Practice and joint Clinical Director at Battersea PCN; and Dr Soleman Begg, GP at St John’s Hill Surgery, Wandsworth PCN and Battersea PCN, SWL

Wandsworth PCN and Battersea PCN are working with JiffJaff and Automation Anywhere to automate high volume and repetitive tasks that can be clinically significant. These include:

  • clinical safety validation process for laboratory tests;
  • patient compliance with antipsychotic mediation;
  • division of clinical administrative workload;
  • reducing workload for pharmacy technicians.

Time saved from automating these processes will allow clinical staff members to spend more time on patient care and administrative staff to focus more on patients who require personalised engagement.

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Dr Manotheethan Jegasothy, GP in Kingston and Richmond; and Dr Soleman Begg, GP at St John’s Hill Surgery, Chessington and Surbiton PCN

Chessington and Surbiton PCNs are working with JiffJaff and Automation Anywhere to automate the filing of ‘normal’ pathology results. Improved automated processes will ensure results are processed quicker and will benefit patients with real-time reporting of their results. Time saved through this automated process will result in clinicians and administrative staff having more time available for the practice and patients.

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Dr Jwala Gupta, Clinical Director, Havering North PCN; Dr Gurmeet Singh, Clinical Director, Havering North PCN; Dr Pratheep Sunthara-Moorthy, Co-Founder of Care IQ

Havering North Network will be using the CareIQ proprietary automation engine to provide automated recall of patients with hypertension, diabetes and atrial fibrillation.

A central team will oversee the recall using staggered invites and providing a uniform process across the PCN. This will include CareIQ questionnaires, telephone, video, and face to face consultations.

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Access Denied: Addressing Inequalities in Digital Healthcare Tools

Clinician using technology

James Friend, Director of Digital Strategy at NHS England London region, writes about how the Access Denied report is shedding light on digital inequalities and what you can do to help.

The NHS has the potential to transform services for patients, from assessment to treatment, through digital technology. But it is crucial that this is done in a way which reduces rather than increases inequalities.

The Covid-19 pandemic led to a rapid increase in the use of digital technology in healthcare, whether this is the use of the NHS app for vaccine passports, the proliferation of online doctors’ consultations or the development of new tools for remote monitoring or self-management of conditions. This has many benefits. It can make services more flexible by enabling out-of-hours access, and digital services can be an improvement for people who are visually impaired or who have limited English skills.

But while for many people accessing services digitally is now the norm, this is not yet universal, and there is evidence of a link between digital exclusion and social disadvantage. People with protected characteristics under the Equality Act 2010 (age, disability, race) are less likely to have access to the internet, and the skills to use it (NHS Digital, 2019); and the impact of this has not yet been fully understood.

The role of digital is currently being considered by the newly-formed Integrated Care Boards, and this presents a unique opportunity to make sure that people without digital access are not left behind. That’s why the Health Innovation Network, the Academic Health Science Network for south London, hosted an important roundtable with experts on this topic which I chaired. The Access Denied report takes the key points from this discussion and explores the impact of digital inequalities in healthcare, making a series of recommendations for those seeking to adopt new technologies:

  • Work with digital innovations that meet the highest standards for accessibility and usability.

  • Test digital products and services thoroughly with a cross section of patients, providers and commissioners.

  • Use data to optimise delivery to improve outcomes and minimise exclusion over time.

  • Understand how people may need specific channels of delivery at different times or for different services.

  • Ensure you capture data so you can measure and compare outcomes and experience by channel.

  • Don’t plan care pathways for the majority – ensure it is optimised for those from minority backgrounds too.

  • Consider the support needed to move people to digital pathways.

  • Ensure equality impact assessments for transforming care pathways pay attention to digital exclusion as a potential risk of inequality.

We are also calling on designers, developers and the NHS to work together in two ways:

  • We need to develop frameworks, similar to those seen for information governance and clinical safety, which would set out guidance for mitigating against health inequalities that could become adopted and embedded by design.

  • Ethical considerations must be built into the clinical safety case of the tool and data used to inform or train algorithms must be thoroughly examined for bias.

You can find out more about digital inequalities, their impact and what you can do about them in the Access Denied report.

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Find out more about digital health inequalities and how to avoid them.

Read the Access Denied Report

Meet the innovator: Louisa Stacey

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Woman in front of wall

In this edition, we catch up with Louisa Stacey, Head of Strategy and Operations at Ufonia, an automated telephone-based system that allows routine clinical conversations to provide a standardised, high quality and efficient experience for patients.

Tell us about your innovation in a sentence: Dora is an automated telephone based system that can have routine clinical conversations with patients to provide a standardised, high quality and efficient patient experience.

What was the ‘lightbulb’ moment?

Being approached by Nick (CEO and Founder of Ufonia) to come and work for Ufonia. This gave me the confidence to believe that I could use all of the skills, abilities, and experience I had gained throughout my academic and NHS career, to make a bigger difference to more patients, clinicians, and the wider NHS.

What three bits of advice would you give budding innovators?

  1. Be brave and bold - believe in your vision and have the conviction to see it through; there will always be very difficult days
  2. Work collaboratively - there are so many talented people willing and able to assist you in achieving your vision
  3. Be empathetic - to develop a true and meaningful understanding of how your innovation will be used to make a difference

What’s been your toughest obstacle?

My toughest obstacle has been and still is…trying to reconcile striving to do the best with a ‘just do it’ mentality to ensure we are delivering value to patients, Trusts, and commissioners as readily as possible.

What’s been your innovator journey highlight?

The buzz I get when I work directly with clinical teams to understand their processes and constraints, followed by the collective realisation of the potential impact that Dora can bring in releasing clinicians’ valuable time to deliver services to the many thousands of patients on their waiting lists.

Best part of your job now?

Genuinely, the team I work with and the impact that this has on the pace, scale, and quality of work delivered. Everyone is phenomenally talented and driven to achieve the same goals which is fundamental in any team to support happiness, retention, and delivery. Check out the team here: https://www.linkedin.com/company/ufonia/mycompany/

If you were in charge of the NHS and care system, what’s the one thing you’d do to speed up health innovation?

Reduce the duplication of effort and variety of systems and processes in place at each individual Trust to support the adoption of technology e.g. all Trusts accepting a set of nationally recognised assurance documents supporting information governance and security measures (DPIA, DTAC) without having a Trust-specific template.

A typical day for you would include…

My day is very varied and can start with meeting busy clinicians at 8am before their clinics begin or logging on early to check emails and slack messages to understand the priorities for the day. Then I will meet the Ufonia team for our virtual daily standup at 9am and find out what work everyone has on as well as a fun fact (e.g. What are you most looking forward to about Autumn?). Whilst we are recruiting more team members into operations, a lot of my day involves meeting with NHS staff to support the implementation of Dora to their services, and with commissioners to demonstrate return on investment. I particularly enjoy helping members of the Ufonia team to find and solve problems which drive improvements in our ways of working. When I have a quiet moment, the creativity flows and I can think of bigger picture strategic work which is a huge motivator for me.

You can find Ufonia on Twitter and LinkedIn.

New NHS Innovation Service streamlines national support for innovators

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HIN Chief Executive Rishi Das-Gupta has hailed this week’s launch of the NHS Innovation Service as an important step forward in delivering life-changing innovation more quickly.

Coordinated by the NHS Accelerated Access Collaborative (AAC), the service has been developed to support the UK’s Life Sciences Vision and accelerate the uptake of promising and impactful innovations into the NHS.

The NHS Innovation Service provides access to guidance and coordinated support from AHSNs and other organisations who have experience, knowledge, and expertise in developing and supporting the spread and adoption of healthcare innovations.

Innovators working with the service will be provided tailored guidance to help them complete processes which will help “unlock” adoption and spread within the NHS, including:

  • Regulations and service standards relevant to innovations
  • Demonstrating evidence of efficacy
  • NHS procurement and reimbursement processes

The service enables innovators to access support from expert organisations through a single coordinated platform. Organisations currently part of the NHS Innovation Service include:

  • The AHSN Network
  • Department for International Trade (DIT)
  • Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency (MHRA)
  • National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE)

Innovators create an account and complete an innovation record, which contains detailed information about their innovation. This enables an expert team to determine the requirements for the innovation to be adopted and put the innovator in touch with the right organisation at the right time. At each stage, organisations offering support have access to the innovation record, which will accelerate the process and avoid duplication – saving innovators having to reintroduce their concept and progress to each organisation.

The NHS Innovation Service is currently in public beta – a public testing phase. Users will be able to provide feedback on the service based on their experiences, creating opportunities for it to improve with further testing. The service replaces the HealthTech Connect platform.

Dr Rishi Das-Gupta, HIN Chief Executive said: “The NHS Innovation Service will further bolster the expert support already available to south London innovators through our own Innovation team and the DigitalHealth.London programme.

“I am particularly pleased that this new service will allow streamlined engagement with national bodies such as MHRA and NICE, who can often be crucial players in facilitating the spread and adoption of the most promising innovations. Reducing the complexity of interfacing with these bodies will undoubtedly mean patients benefit from innovations sooner.

“This work is another powerful demonstration of our sector’s commitment to collaboration as a driver of world-class health innovation in the UK.”

Award-winning Accelerator pays testament to six years of AHSN support for innovators

As DigitalHealth.London’s Accelerator programme is recognised for its role in supporting innovators, we reflect on the vital importance of AHSNs and their partners in helping the patients and the wider health and social care system benefit from commercial innovation.

On 7 July, DigitalHealth.London’s Accelerator programme was selected as winner of Accelerator of the Year award at the UKBAA Angel Investment Awards 2022. We are delighted that this award recognises the impact and importance of collaborative working by Academic Health Science Networks (AHSNs) to help innovators bring their digital health solutions to bear against some of the biggest challenges facing the NHS.

The DigitalHealth.London Accelerator is a highly competitive 12-month programme for digital health companies that have products or services with high potential to meet NHS and social care challenges. High potential SMEs undertaking the programme are given bespoke support and advice, expert-led workshops and events to broker meaningful connections between innovators and NHS organisations.

The programme is delivered by Health Innovation Network and UCLPartners, MedCity and Chelsea and Westminster Hospital Charity (CW+), and has benefited from AHSN funding from NHS England, the Office of Life Sciences and Greater London Authority ERDF. The delivery of the Accelerator programme has connected industry, academia and the NHS to exchange ideas and collaborate to support innovation and the adoption of digital health.

“I am extremely proud to see the DigitalHealth.London Accelerator being recognised as pivotal programme, supporting high potential innovators to tackle health challenges within the complex NHS market. Being selected as winner of Accelerator of the Year award is a fantastic achievement that reflects the collaborative efforts of everyone involved across the London AHSNs and our partners.”Anna King, Commercial Director, Health Innovation Network

With the NHS under continued pressure following the Covid-19 pandemic, innovative solutions are already proving crucial for tackling issues such as the elective care backlog and widespread workforce challenges, with new approaches also helping to counteract existing health inequalities.

Beyond its positive impact on patients and NHS services, the Accelerator is also a significant catalyst for economic growth in the capital.

In the six years since its inception, the Accelerator has supported 143 digital health companies and 591 new contracts have been secured by these companies because of Accelerator support. The companies on the Accelerator have created a gross total of 1,498 new jobs during the programme and 45 new products have been launched to the NHS market.

Find out more

Get in touch to find out more about DigitalHealth.London and their Accelerator programme.

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Meet the innovator: Meera Radia

PocketEye: Connecting Eye Care

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PocketEye: Connecting Eye Care

In this edition, we catch up with Meera Radia, founder and CEO of PocketEye, a platform which improves access to eye care.

Tell us about your innovation in a sentence:

PocketEye is a cloud-based digital triage platform for eye care, enabling secure communication, seamless referrals and triage between primary and secondary eye care.

What was the ‘lightbulb’ moment?

As an ophthalmologist, I was working in eye casualty one day when there was an extremely long (~6 hour) wait for patients, and I realised the majority of these patients had been referred as same-day emergency referrals, which could have been prevented and remotely managed. Furthermore, my sister who is an optometrist would phone me regularly for general eye advice and teaching, as she felt there was a gap in her knowledge, and also her colleagues' knowledge, in terms of when to refer and when to not refer. 

I scribbled down a list of ideas I had that could solve this problem, spoke to a lot of professionals affected by these healthcare delivery challenges, and eventually, PocketEye was born!

What three bits of advice would you give budding innovators?

  1. When you hear a ‘No,’ that does not mean it is the end of the road - Get creative and use it as a learning opportunity
  2. While researching your market it is important to take strong opinions with a pinch of salt as the more people you speak to, the more you will gain a ‘bigger picture’
  3. Use technology to your advantage, we almost have no excuse with so many resources (many are free!) at our fingertips!

What’s been your toughest obstacle?

I would say it has been navigating the highly variable NHS pathways that exist in eye care. No two CCGs/ICSs are the same and so understanding the nuances of each one we speak to has been challenging. Understanding funding in the NHS is also crucial, and takes time to grasp as a concept.

Furthermore, behaviour change is a big challenge, especially within NHS organisations. But overall, I believe that it is an exciting time to be in the NHS, as there is a nascent appetite and spirit for being more open to change and innovation.

What’s been your innovator journey highlight?

  • Being selected to take part in the Digital.Health.London Launchpad accelerator programme in 2022 – This was a very empowering moment as it proved to us that others believed in the problem we are trying to solve!
  • Engaging with the eye community, and learning a lot more about eye healthcare structure and services
  • Having 200+ optometrists sign up to use our service

What is the best part of your job now?

Using creativity to problem-solve, and best of all, understanding the impact and difference our innovation can have in the eye care landscape, including improving patient safety and the patient experience

If you were in charge of the NHS and care system, what’s the one thing you’d do to speed up health innovation?

I would push for a flat structure (non-hierarchical), and increase collaboration between allied healthcare professionals and managerial team members.

A typical day for you would include…

My days are varied, interesting, sometimes exhausting but always exciting!

I can either be found in a hospital examining, operating on, or thinking about eyes, or I’m in the office, meeting with the PocketEye team. When in the office, I will be juggling various arms of the business including business development, marketing and comms, compliance, and of course working on product with Ed, the CTO. This manifests itself in lots of emails, Twitter page posting, pitchdecks, meetings, and of course, ringfenced thinking time.

You can find PocketEye on Twitter and LinkedIn.

Interim Director of Digital Transformation appointed to HIN executive team

From July the Health Innovation Network will welcome Amanda Begley as the new Director of Digital Transformation on secondment from Guy’s and St Thomas’ NHS Foundation Trust (GSTT) for 12 months.

Amanda is currently Director of the Centre for Innovation, Transformation and Improvement (CITI) at GSTT and brings a wealth of experience in areas that are particularly relevant including leveraging the value of health data by co-developing the Health Data Research UK Hub for Cancer (DATA-CAN) and her work at NHS London and UCLPartners on innovation, as well as her operational roles including working at Kingston Hospital.

Dr Rishi Das-Gupta, Chief Executive at the HIN said: “We recognise that there is an increasing need to support digital transformation over south London and are well placed to support on this given our strong links with digital innovators through the DigitalHealth.London programme. Amanda will help us clarify this so we can fulfil our aim to make our region the leader for adopting digital innovations.” 

Dr Amanda Begley, Director of Digital Transformation said: “I am really excited  to join the team and work with colleagues across south London to plan how digital transformation can benefit , patients, staff and partners as we all recover from the after-effects of the pandemic.”

Meet the innovator: Nick Mayhew

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In this edition, we caught up with Nick Mayhew, Sales and Marketing Director at Bleepa; a revolutionary medical imaging communications platform.

Pictured above: Nick Mayhew

Tell us about your innovation in a sentence.

Bleepa is a revolutionary medical imaging communications platform, providing an easy-to-use, high-quality tool to enable remote and secure communications between frontline clinicians and teams.

What was the ‘lightbulb’ moment?

The initial lightbulb moment came from our CEO, Dr Tom Oakley. Just about every time I speak to a clinician, we receive another idea though. Their feedback is invaluable – I must have spoken to at least 200 clinicians since I joined and that’s a lot of ideas.  I really feel like we are representing them and I feel obligated to make Bleepa work and embed it in the NHS.  We passionately believe that Bleepa can empower every clinician working in a healthcare setting.  Given our heritage, we knew that we could create a mobile-based clinical-grade communication tool that provided diagnostic imaging, associated annotations and reports at a quality that would make a real difference to the day-to-day lives of clinicians in both primary and secondary care.

Since launching Bleepa it has been used to routinely seek second opinions, manage inpatient referrals, provide high-quality multi-disciplinary team meetings and manage COVID-19 care pathways, amongst others. It has been amazing to see the far-reaching impact to date and we look forward to growing this impact with as many hospitals and community diagnostic centres as possible.

What three bits of advice would you give budding innovators?

  1. The most important thing for any start-up or innovator is to really spend time talking to your potential customers to identify their needs and challenges.
  2. Understand customer pain points and ensure that your solution meets those needs, you need to be able to demonstrate and evidence as early as possible the positive outcomes and benefits of your innovation.
  3. Be driven, enthusiastic and very, very focused.

What’s been your toughest obstacle?

We’ve been very lucky in finding a forward-thinking trust that understood the benefits of collaboration. Finding an early adopter who supports and believes in your product and is willing to put that belief into practice within an often risk-averse healthcare environment is the biggest challenge for most tech companies and we were lucky. Through collaboration, you need to find ‘early adopter’ doctors willing to work with you to grow and develop your product and shout about your successes. We were very lucky to find an amazing champion in Georges Ng Man Kwong, Chief Clinical Information Officer and Respiratory Consultant, at Pennine Acute Hospitals NHS Trust and his enthusiasm helped us engage with their clinical teams across the hospital to co-develop Bleepa in its early stages.

What’s been your innovator journey highlight?

There are so many passionate, inspiring people who work within healthcare, particularly the NHS. Working with customers and clinicians who are really progressive, want to break the mould and have a really strong vision of how digital innovation can improve the way they work and deliver real benefits to patients drives all our teams forward. Whenever we speak to frontline clinicians about Bleepa we get such great feedback recognising how it can help make their working life easier, save time on referrals and relieve many of their pain points.

Best part of your job now?

For my role leading the sales and marketing team, it has been great to reach the point of brand awareness where NHS organisations, commercial suppliers and key individuals are approaching us because they’ve heard about Bleepa and recognise how we can help their organisation to improve clinical communications. It is really rewarding to see that shift to predominantly inbound requests and enquiries.

If you were in charge of the NHS and care system, what’s the one thing you’d do to speed up health innovation?

As a software-as-a-service company, we are constantly battling against the lack of some of the simpler technical infrastructure that other businesses would take for granted – decent WiFi and mobile network coverage, users being able to use their own mobile device securely for work. Digital innovation would be much faster and easier to adopt if some of these basic technical requirements were already in place for frontline clinicians.

A typical day for you would include…

Lots of conversations with customers, our development and operations teams.

I am very lucky – we have a wonderful, talented and committed team at Bleepa. It’s a very vibrant environment with lots of very bright people, so it keeps me very much on my toes.  I’m involved in all sorts of projects: from scaling up our involvement in the community diagnostic centre programme in the UK to shipping out equipment for a tuberculosis screening programme in India with funding from Amazon Web Services.

Where can we find you?

Visit our website bleepa.com or follow us on Twitter @BleepaMe and LinkedIn.

New transatlantic partnership announced for companies working to improve digital health

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The DigitalHealth.London and Cedars-Sinai Accelerators, two of the world’s top Accelerator programmes, today announced their new partnership supporting the international adoption of some of the US and UK’s best health tech companies.

It means patients in both the UK and US should benefit quicker from health tech innovations. The partnership will also utilise the deep healthcare knowledge and networks held by both organisations, to support companies who have taken part in either of the Accelerator programmes, to navigate and gain traction in a new global market. The companies will be given the opportunity to learn from and support their global peers, hear from experts in the new market, showcase their products/services to key international stakeholders and attend webinars on the respective healthcare systems.

Jenny Thomas, Programme Director, DigitalHealth.London, said: “At DigitalHealth.London we are dedicated to supporting the growth and development of high potential digital health companies who are meeting the challenges facing health care systems today. The Cedars-Sinai Accelerator shares this goal, and it is our joint vision to work together to accelerate the adoption of the best healthcare solutions internationally.”

Anne Wellington, Managing Director, Cedars-Sinai Accelerator, said: The Cedars-Sinai Accelerator supports innovation that will improve healthcare, not only for our own patients and clinicians but by advancing technologies that benefit our global community. We are thrilled that this collaboration with DigitalHealth.London will foster support and adoption of the most transformative solutions from the US and UK!.”

Dr Tim Ferris, Director of Transformation at NHSE, said: “Some of the world’s most exciting digital health work is happening here in the UK. The NHS has a lot of knowledge to share, and there is also much we can learn from other countries. It is vital we use these connections to promote effective ways of improving patient care and work environments for busy NHS staff.”

DigitalHealth.London’s Accelerator aims to speed up the adoption of technology in London’s NHS, relieving high pressure on services and empowering patients to manage their health. It works with up to 20 SMEs over a 12-month period, giving bespoke support and advice, a programme of expert-led workshops and events and brokering meaningful connections between innovators and NHS organisations with specific challenges. The NHS delivered programme, funded in part by the European Regional Development Fund, has supported some of the biggest and most effective digital innovations now being used by the NHS in London. Companies including LIVI, Oxehealth, Patchwork Health, Echo, Sweatcoin, and Health Navigator have all been through the DigitalHealth.London Accelerator programme. To date, the Accelerator has supported 122 innovative digital health companies, with 591 additional contracts secured and 1498 jobs created by those companies during Accelerator support. £2.06 billion of investment has been raised by these companies to date and for every £1 spent on the programme through the AHSNs, it is estimated £12.70 is saved for the NHS*.

The Cedars-Sinai Accelerator is transforming healthcare quality, efficiency, and care delivery by helping entrepreneurs create, grow and scale their innovative technology products. This three-month program, based in Los Angeles, California, provides companies with $100,000 in funding, mentorship from more than 300 leading clinicians and executives, access to Cedars-Sinai, and exposure to a broad network of entrepreneurs and investors. Since 2015, the Accelerator has helped more than 60 companies transform healthcare delivery and patient care. Examples of companies supported by the Accelerator include WELL Health, Aiva Health, Health Note, Diligent Robotics and AppliedVR. UK-founded alumni of the Cedars-Sinai Accelerator include Lumeon, Lantum and Virti. Accelerator alumni have gone on to collectively raise more than $500M in investment and are in use at thousands of hospitals and clinics across the United States and around the world.

Further information

Find out more about DigitalHealth.London and the fantastic work that they do to support innovators.

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Meet the innovator: Grace Gimson

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In this edition, we caught up with Grace Gimson, Co-Founder and CEO at Holly Health; your personal health and motivation coach, in your pocket.

Pictured above: Grace Gimson

Tell us about your innovation in a sentence.

The Holly bird 🐦 becomes your personal health and motivation coach, in your pocket, providing you with the daily direction and support to feel psychologically and physically better!

What was the ‘lightbulb’ moment?

Experiencing my challenges with burnout, and struggling to keep on top of my physical and mental wellbeing through a busy career. I also saw the same thing happening to so many people around me. Luckily I found a way out, through being consistent and deliberate with daily habits like getting enough sleep, getting outside for walks, and taking time to give my brain space. Then I wanted to help others to find their way too.

What three bits of advice would you give budding innovators?

  1. Believe in yourself, everyone is making it up as they go along, it’s a tough journey but stick to your guns as your unique insights and experiences are what set you apart.
  2. Remember that you won’t be able to last the journey unless you take care of your own physical and mental health along the way. Set boundaries to avoid burnout.
  3. Take and seek help and support in the areas you’re less sure about. Even just one conversation with someone who’s been through it before can make all the difference.

What’s been your toughest obstacle?

In the early stages, with a tiny team, it’s a difficult balancing act. Some weeks I feel like I’m doing five different jobs, and I want to do them all well. But the reality is you have to prioritise, be realistic, and set really clear goals with yourself, being ruthless about things that don’t move you closer to them. I often still overfill my calendar and should say no to things more often.

What’s been your innovator journey highlight?

Hearing the stories of others finding their health and wellbeing path with the help of Holly Health. Especially receiving feedback that it’s changed people’s mindsets for good because I know personally that when you cross through that barrier, there’s no going back!

Best part of your job now?

I get to learn about psychological medicine every day. It’s so exciting combining psychological science with technology to innovate beyond what’s been possible before!

If you were in charge of the NHS and care system, what’s the one thing you’d do to speed up health innovation?

I’d use my influence to go to the school education system, to change up the curriculum. I believe the future survival and success of the NHS comes from encouraging preventive health approaches (for both physical and mental health) from the earliest point possible.

A typical day for you would include…

A bit of deeper or creative work first thing in the morning, when fresh. This could involve some product design planning, or company goal setting. Followed by lots of remote meetings, for example; a team check in, a podcast episode recording, a partnership chat with a healthcare provider, an investor conversation. Then a few hours of emails and admin. I end the working day by preparing for tomorrow!

Where can we find you?

Visit our website hollyhealth.io or follow us on LinkedIn.

DigitalHealth.London publishes “Driving digital: Insights and foresights from the health and care ecosystem”

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When DigitalHealth.London was created five years ago, the digital health landscape was a very different place, as were the challenges facing the NHS. To celebrate their fifth birthday, DigitalHealth.London started a five-week conversation with NHS and social care staff, industry, patients and academics. Today, DigitalHealth.London publishes “Driving digital: Insights and foresights from the health and care ecosystem”, a fascinating look at the sector’s learnings from the last five years and the opportunities for the next five years in digital health.

The free-to-access publication features exclusive quotes and/or videos from Sir David Sloman, NHS Regional Director for London, Matthew Gould, CEO of NHSX, Patrick Mitchell, Director of Innovation, Transformation and Digital at Health Education England, and Professor Trish Greenhalgh, Professor of Primary Care Health Sciences at the University of Oxford – plus many more NHS and social care staff, digital health companies, patients and academics.

Topics in the publication include NHS digital health adoption, tackling digital exclusion, the importance of co-design, challenges of health tech evaluation, AI for workforce support, growth of remote monitoring and international opportunities.

Jenny Thomas, Programme Director at DigitalHealth.London, said, “We are proud of what DigitalHealth.London has achieved over the last five years in supporting the growth of digital health innovation in London and of how much we have learnt. But we know that there is still more to be done. That is why we wanted to celebrate our 5th birthday by starting an open discussion with groups from across the healthcare sector. Thank you to everyone who took part in what was an enlightening conversation, and we hope that those reading these insights gain as much from it as we did.”

Dr Timothy Ferris, Director of Transformation at NHS England and Improvement, said, “DigitalHealth.London has brought together voices from across health and social care – staff, patients and service users, industry and academics – to reflect on learnings from the last five years and the future of healthcare. This publication provides invaluable insights for how we can work together towards the goal of improving people’s care. I would encourage leaders, clinicians and decision makers in health and care to read, share and take action.”

Sonia Patel, Chief Information Officer at NHSX, said, “The digital health landscape has changed dramatically over the last five years, and it is clear from the insights shared in DigitalHealth.London’s 5th birthday publication, that as a sector we’ve learnt an incredible amount. As a Londoner, I’m particularly pleased to see progress in tech and data to support a multicultural, diverse community. It is also apparent that, while we’ve still got a way to go, the future is bright for digital health in London and beyond. If you’re working in digital health, this is a must-read.”

Further information

Explore more by reading “Driving digital: Insights and foresights from the health and care ecosystem.”

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Meet the innovator: Max Kersting

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In this edition, we caught up with Max Kersting, Co-Founder and CEO at Regimen; a digital certified health program for erectile dysfunction.

Pictured above: Max Kersting

Tell us about your innovation in a sentence.

We’ve developed the world’s first CE-certified guided health program for erectile dysfunction (ED), effective for three out of four members within only 12 weeks.

What was the ‘lightbulb’ moment?

I’ve had erectile dysfunction in my early 20s. Pills, injections, even surgery did not work. With a few excellent urologists, we’ve created a strict program that helped me to overcome my issues – including pelvic floor and cardio exercise, lifestyle modifications, mindfulness, vacuum pump training, supplements, and pills. It worked!

With Regimen, we offer access to such a personalised holistic program to everyone who struggles with ED.

Together with healthcare professionals, we can not only help clients struggling with ED, but also identify those with elevated risk for cardiovascular disease or mental health issues, and prevent severe health events including heart attacks, strokes and depression.

What three bits of advice would you give budding innovators?

  1. Focus on your clients: it took us two years to build a program that was excellent in terms of efficacy AND retention. Nobody needs a program that theoretically works but that your clients don’t use.
  2. Use your first user cohorts as partners: understand their real needs and build for them.
  3. Understand your economic case, in the short, medium, and long term. There might be a direct-to-consumer market that helps you make revenue, quickly. But to work with healthcare organisations, you also have to understand the needs of doctors, and payers to be able to cater to them.

What’s been your toughest obstacle?

Convincing doctors to try something new, beyond the blue pills (although, every doctor who refers Regimen is raving about their client feedback). If you’d like to offer Regimen to your patients, please get in touch with our Director of Partnerships Giordano Blume, we are looking forward to hear from you.

What’s been your innovator journey highlight?

The emails from our clients. It is always a very happy moment to read how our work changes the lives and relationships of thousands of people around the world.

Best part of your job now?

Being able to inspire guys who lost hope to take care of their most intimate health. I really love the feedback of our clients.

If you were in charge of the NHS and care system, what’s the one thing you’d do to speed up health innovation?

Centralise and at the same time lower the barriers for reimbursement to make digital innovation accessible to those who also feel too ashamed to see their doctors.

A typical day for you would include…

Working with our amazing team on new features, understanding how we can grow faster, and learning from healthcare professionals and our users how to improve Regimen, in the long run.

Where can we find you?

Visit our website joinregimen.com or follow us on Instagram or LinkedIn.

DigitalHealth.London Accelerator opens for applications

Call out to the next generation of digital innovation to transform health and care.

Digital products and services have provided vital innovation, support and capacity to the NHS during the Covid-19 pandemic and will continue to do so as the healthcare system moves forward into the subsequent recovery phase of the Covid-19 response. DigitalHealth.London has opened applications to their flagship Accelerator programme for the next generation of digital health companies to transform health and care.

Now in its sixth consecutive year, the NHS delivered programme, funded in part by the European Regional Development Fund, has supported some of the biggest and most effective digital innovations now being used by the NHS in London. Companies including LIVI, Oxehealth, Patchwork Health, Echo, Sweatcoin, and Health Navigator  have all been through the DigitalHealth.London Accelerator programme. Many of the digital products and services who have provided vital innovation, support and capacity to the NHS during the response to Covid-19 have come through the Accelerator. From enabling remote GP appointments, to transforming NHS temporary staffing and patient facing self-management apps, the Accelerator has supported some of the best digital innovations now being widely used. The need for innovations to solve the problems which face the NHS as it continues to be under pressure and as it recovers from the pandemic, remains vital.

To date the Accelerator has supported 122 innovative digital health companies, with 411 additional contracts signed by those companies during Accelerator support. For every £1 spent on the programme it is estimated over £14 is saved for the NHS*. DigitalHealth.London is passionate about the importance of diversity and inclusion in the long-term success of innovation and transformation within the NHS. To date 15 per cent of the companies supported have been founded by women, 22 per cent have been owned by innovators who identify as Black, Asian or minority ethnic and 2 per cent by a person with a disability*. DigitalHeath.London continues to work to ensure the Accelerator programme is diverse and encourages innovators who identify as being from a minority group to apply to the programme.

Jenny Thomas, Programme Director, DigitalHealth.London Accelerator, said: “The last year and a half in the NHS has seen profound challenges but also incredible progress. NHS Staff and patients have been introduced to new ways of doing things through digital health, and technology has enabled many key services to continue during the Covid-19 pandemic. I am extremely proud of the companies and NHS organisations we have worked with and the role they have played during the pandemic and the vital roles I know they will continue to play as we start to look at supporting the NHS to recover. I am very excited to announce the opening of applications to be part of the next cohort of innovators on the DigitalHealth.London Accelerator programme – innovators who we will support in being part of this next, pivotal stage for our healthcare system.”

Dr Rishi Das-Gupta, Chief Executive, Health Innovation Network, said: “I am delighted that applications are open for the sixth cohort of the DigitalHealth.London Accelerator. Over the years we have seen so many success stories come out of the programme – innovations that are now making a significant positive impact on health outcomes and ongoing challenges like workforce pressures. The depth of support offered to innovators over a 12-month period is really impressive, providing bespoke assistance and advice through events such as expert-led workshops and facilitating meaningful connections between innovators and NHS organisations with specific challenges.

I look forward to contributing to the development of what I’m sure will be another outstanding cohort of innovators this year. I would urge anyone thinking of applying to join the DigitalHealth.London Accelerator 101 Webinar on Wednesday 4 August at 12:30pm and find out more about the programme and how it might benefit you.”

Theo Blackwell, Chief Digital Officer for London, said: “DigitalHealth.London’s influential Accelerator programme is helping London establish its place as one of the most exciting digital health and care hubs in the world. I am delighted to continue to support the Accelerator as it opens for applications again and I’d urge any digital health innovator who has a product or service that could support the NHS in this challenging time to consider joining this programme.”

Tara Donnelly, Chief Digital Officer of NHSX, said: “The DigitalHealth.London Accelerator programme is a key player in helping the NHS and social care to make the most of the opportunities digital technologies bring.

“This has never been more important as the NHS looks to recover from the pandemic and I look forward to seeing the next group of innovators bringing their solutions to London’s NHS.”

Phoebe Allen, Quality Improvement Manager, Planned Care, Chelsea and Westminster Hospital NHS Foundation Trust, said: “Working on the ground in the NHS I have witnessed first-hand the rapid progress of digital technology within our healthcare system over the last year. Without some of these innovations the delivery of many services would have been nearly impossible and it is clear that digital technology has a huge role to play in the future of improving patient care and helping the NHS to recover from the Covid-19 pandemic. The DigitalHealth.London Accelerator programme helps connect innovators to NHS teams with an unmet need and provide them with the knowledge they need to truly understand the challenges face by the NHS, its staff and its patients.”

Dr Mridula Pore, CEO and Co-founder, Peppy, Accelerator programme 2020-21, said: “The DigitalHealth.London Accelerator has been instrumental in fostering the perfect environment for Peppy to grow in the NHS. The guidance we have been given, connections brokered with decision makers in NHS organisations and policy makers, and the support we have received from our NHS Navigator has all led to wonderful new opportunities and meaningful growth of our company. We are truly grateful for our Accelerator experience and would like to wish all companies applying good luck in what is a hugely competitive and valuable programme.”

Anas Nader, Co-Founder, Patchwork Health, Accelerator programme 2019-20, said: “We’re so proud of how widely our technology has already been embraced across the NHS and the impact we’re having on the lives of thousands of clinicians. We were delighted to join the 2019-20 cohort of DigitalHealth.London’s Accelerator, a brilliant programme speeding up adoption of digital health innovations in the NHS. The programme has provided us with opportunities to connect with industry experts as well as other healthtech innovators. I’d encourage companies like ours with good ideas and big ambitions to apply.”

DigitalHealth.London’s Accelerator aims to speed up the adoption of technology in London’s NHS, relieving high pressure on services and empowering patients to manage their health. The programme is for digital health companies with a product or service that has high potential to meet the challenges facing the NHS and social care today, as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic and as detailed in the NHS Long Term Plan. It works with up to 20 SMEs over a 12-month period, giving bespoke support and advice, a programme of expert-led workshops and events and brokering meaningful connections between innovators and NHS organisations with specific challenges. The companies that are successful in getting onto the Accelerator programme are chosen through a rigorous and highly competitive selection process, involving expert NHS and industry panel assessments, interviews and due diligence checks. Companies successful in gaining a place on the programme usually have a product or service that has already been piloted in the NHS and is ready to scale. Through-out the 12 months the programme focuses on engagement with different elements of the health and care system. Company suitability is assessed based both on product maturity (meaning products that are ready to be trialled or bought that have high potential to meet NHS challenges) and on the company’s capacity to benefit from the programme (meaning companies have enough time and staff to engage).

Join a discussion with the Programme Director, an NHS Navigator and some of the SMEs who have been supported by the programme on the DigitalHealth.London Accelerator 101 Webinar on Wednesday 4 August at 12:30pm.

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Sara Nelson named as new Deputy Chief Nursing Information Officer for NHSX

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DigitalHealth.London’s Sara Nelson, who leads the flagship Accelerator and Digital Pioneer Fellowship programmes, joins NHSX.

Sara Nelson has been announced as the new Deputy Chief Nursing Information Officer for NHSX.

Sara is a Registered General Nurse who has worked in the NHS for over 29 years. She has a wealth of experience in operational and digital nursing leadership having undertaken a number of roles including senior nurse for digital at Guy’s and St Thomas’ NHS Foundation Trust.

More recently Sara has undertaken leadership roles at DigitalHealth.London as an NHS Navigator, Programme Director of the Accelerator and most recently as the Deputy Programme Director of DigitalHealth.London leading the Digital Pioneer Fellowship.

The Digital Pioneer Fellowship supports 37 frontline NHS staff delivering transformation projects through digital innovation. Under Sara’s leadership, both the Digital Pioneer Fellowship and the Accelerator programme, achieved an increase in applications. The Accelerator also experienced an increase in applications from digital innovators identifying as BAME and was recognised as one of the top eight Accelerator programmes for women founders in Europe.

She has been widely recognised as a digital health leader speaking at conferences, writing thought leadership articles and above all building and supporting teams of NHS staff.

Sara has achieved her Post Graduate Diploma in Digital Healthcare Leadership through the NHS Digital Academy and is currently undertaking her MSc dissertation to identify the key factors for a successful CNIO.

Dr Natasha Phillips, Chief Nursing Information Officer at NHSX, said:

“Sara’s appointment by NHSX is another important milestone in the establishment of a strong nursing and midwifery digital leadership community – one which is vital to ensure a nursing and midwifery voice at all levels of digital transformation across the system. The breadth of experience and track record across digital innovation that Sara brings with her is outstanding and I am delighted to welcome her to the team”

“I feel privileged to take up this role working as part of NHSX with the CNIO Natasha Phillips and the CNO team to shape the future of nursing at this pivotal time.”Sara Nelson

Zoe Lelliott, Chief Executive at the Health Innovation Network, said:

“We’re delighted for Sara and know she’ll be brilliant in this well-deserved role.”

Sara Nelson, Deputy Chief Nursing Information Officer at NHSX, said:

“This new national Deputy CNIO role signifies the growing recognition of nursing and midwifery involvement in digital health. I feel privileged to take up this role working as part of NHSX with the CNIO Natasha Phillips and the CNO team to shape the future of nursing at this pivotal time.

“I am one of the many nurses and midwives who did not have computers or technology, as we now know it, when we started and I have seen real benefits to staff and patients, when technology is brought in correctly and is well designed with consideration of patients and staff. This has led me to move away from the traditional nursing leadership roles and towards increasing my understanding of technology and the commercial sectors – growing my knowledge of the barriers and opportunities we can elicit.

“I am looking forward to understanding how we can work together nationally, regionally and in our organisations to bring together that collective voice that listens and learns and is not afraid to speak up.”

Sara will take up her new role part time from 11 January and full time from March.

Find out more about the Accelerator programme

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Accelerator webpage

Find out more about the Digital Pioneer Fellowship progamme

Click the button below to find out more about the Digital Pioneer Fellowship programme.

Digital Pioneer Fellowship webpage