Speeding up the best in health and care, together

The Health Innovation Network welcomes recommendations on reforms to speed up patients’ access to healthcare technologies


A national report launched today, the Accelerated Access Review (AAR), has recognised the important role of Academic Health Science Networks as innovation exchanges, that create opportunities to ensure digital product development meets NHS needs. The AAR specifically acknowledges the role of DigitalHealth.London in accelerating the adoption of digital innovation by linking health and care organisations with digital health innovators.

The collaborative partnership of DigitalHealth.London, made up of the capital’s three Academic Health Science Networks (AHSNs) including the Health Innovation Network, MedCity and NHS England, is held up as an exemplar of current work to support demand and supply needs in digital health.

Commissioned by the Government and led by an independent Chair, the Review makes clear recommendations on reforms to speed up patients’ access to innovative medicines, technologies and products. The aim is for the UK to become a world-leader in healthcare innovation, with an NHS that embraces the new drugs and technologies that patients need.

The Review highlights key system changes, welcomed by the Health Innovation Network and DigitalHealth.London, which look to speed up and simplify the process for getting the most promising new treatments and diagnostics safely from pre-clinical development to patients. Through these recommendations, innovators would have access to joined-up help with clinical development, regulation and assessment of cost-effectiveness.

Digital health companies and SMEs, including the 31 companies in the DigitalHealth.London Accelerator current cohort, will be supported to access and find the right decision makers within the NHS to adopt these innovative solutions, offering a win-win scenario for the healthcare system and those developing transformative new products.

Innovations facilitated by the Accelerator programme include an app created by Perfect Ward that captures inspections directly on phones or tablets, and also features live reporting to keep clinicians informed of issues in a timely manner. The app reduces inspecting time and eliminates admin, freeing up more time with patients. Another innovation on the programme is Written Medicine, which helps healthcare professionals communicate with patients in other languages, by using software that translates and prints bilingual pharmacy dispensing labels and discharge summary sheets.

The Health Innovation Network is also piloting an AppScript tool, alongside IMS Health, to help clinicians prescribe digital content, using a scoring system that gives one solution to help prescribe apps with a high rating. The project contributes to the National Information Board’s work in the national agenda, focusing on the accreditation of mobile health apps.

Health Innovation Network Chief Executive Tara Donnelly said: “The publication of the Accelerated Access Review is an exciting moment for AHSNs across the country. In particular, digital health technology has great potential to transform the healthcare system, and our ability to drive economic growth will ensure that we deliver innovation at scale.

“At the Health Innovation Network we are thrilled to be one of the founding partners for DigitalHealth.London and the Accelerator programme, ensuring that patients across south London and beyond have access to these transformational health technologies.”

Jenny Thomas Programme Director at the DigitalHealth.London Accelerator said: “We welcome the Review’s recommendations and believe it will make a huge difference in creating a more favourable environment to speed up the adoption of innovation at scale, ensuring that greater numbers of patients benefit from emerging new technology, more rapidly. With 31 innovative digital health solutions ready to be adopted, we are uniquely positioned to help solve some of the most pressing challenges facing the NHS.

“It is really exciting to enable the NHS decision makers and our innovators to work in a new way which could, for example, increase NHS smartphone technology adoption rate beyond the current 2% usage, to a figure closer to the 73% of Londoners who have smartphone access. We are also pleased to see that we are already aligned with the recommended matching funding model proposed in the Review for AHSNs, with both Guy’s and St Thomas’ Charity and CW+ supporting the programme through a similar model.”

DigitalHealth.London Board Member and Managing Director of Imperial College Health Partners (ICHP), Axel Heitmueller, commented: “We are delighted to see such strong endorsement of the AHSN offer in the Accelerated Access Review. It is refreshing to see policy that recognises the need to simultaneously work with innovators but also those adopting innovation and providing them with the right set of capabilities and capacity.

“We are particularly excited about the strong emphasis on the transformative role digital technologies will have to play. DigitalHealth.London has begun to show how a regional digital health catalyst can work in bringing together NHS need and digital solutions in unconventional ways.”

Health Minister Lord Prior said: “This Government has a strong commitment to the life sciences and to building a long-term partnership with the life sciences industry. We are determined to make the UK the best place in the world to develop new drugs and other products that can transform the health of patients.

“The report provides us with a strong basis to make the right decisions about how the health system can be adapted to meet the challenges of the future, attract inward investment, grow the thriving life science industry and use innovation to improve patient outcomes and tackle the financial pressures on the NHS.”

Read the Accelerated Access Review here.

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