Digital health technologies could generate billions of pounds of revenues for the UK, digital health company Inhealthcare argues.
Speaking to the House of Lords Science and Technology Committee, CEO of Inhealthcare Bryn Sage said that reforms to the market for healthcare innovation could create tens of thousands of jobs in Britain’s life sciences sector.
Sage presented evidence to the committee’s inquiry on life sciences and industrial strategy, saying that the UK economy could greatly benefit if the NHS embraced digital health technologies.
Sage referenced how NHS organisations are paid for activity rather than outcomes, a practice that creates “perverse incentives” which results in more people being referred to hospitals rather than less. Clinicians are therefore avoiding embracing digital technologies as they would be penalised financially.
Technologies such as assisted self-care could free up huge amounts of capacity within the health and care system, Sage said.
Other witnesses to the Committee included senior figures from GSK, AstraZeneca and the National Institute for Health and Clinical Care Excellence.
Sage levelled criticism at multi-year block contracts, which he said prevented new markets entrants and caused commissioners and providers to rely on ageing methods.
He said new ways for delivering care could save the NHS money but if individual organisations cannot realise any benefit they are not interested.
He said: “That’s why it is all broken. There is no overall control. If you have someone who has a holistic view of the spend and the best practices and best outcomes, they can make that choice and save the NHS money overall.”
Sage mentioned how the digital health and life sciences sector was particularly strong in the North of England. He said: “Reforming how the NHS adopts and purchases will deliver a huge economic boost to the North of England, which already has a great concentration of knowledge-based innovative health and life sciences businesses as well as world-leading universities and some of Europe’s best hospitals.”
“For all its bad press the NHS is looked upon as a leader in the world, as it adopts these new technologies other nations will follow, which is great news for UK PLC”.
The government has plans to support its Industrial Green Paper to make the UK the best place in the world to invest in life sciences.
The House of Lords committee is examining whether the government has the necessary structures in place to support the sector and is looking at how the NHS can use procurement to stimulate innovation.