The head of NHS England has announced a new programme to fast-track cutting-edge innovations from across the globe to the NHS frontline.
In his keynote speech to around 1,000 NHS leaders at the NHS Confederation Conference in Manchester, Simon Stevens announced that for the first time the NHS will provide an explicit national reimbursement route for new medtech innovations.
The funding model is designed to accelerate uptake of new medtech devices and apps for patients with diabetes, heart conditions, asthma, sleep disorders, and other chronic health conditions, and many other areas such as infertility and pregnancy, obesity reduction and weight management, and common mental health disorders.
It may also “help cut the hassle” experienced by clinicians and innovators in getting uptake and spread across the NHS, according to NHS England.
This is because a new Innovation and Technology tariff category will remove the need for multiple local price negotiations, and instead guarantee automatic reimbursement when an approved innovation is used, while at the same time allowing NHS England to negotiate national ‘bulk buy’ price discounts on behalf of hospitals, GPs and patients.
Mr Stevens also announced a new round of recruitment to the NHS Innovation Accelerator (NIA) programme, which supports developers with tried-and-tested innovations to spread them further and faster across the health service.
This follows a successful first year, which saw a rapid roll out of innovations to 68 NHS hospitals, benefitting over 3 million patients.
“The NHS has a proud track record of world firsts in medical innovation – think hip replacements, IVF, vaccinations and organ transplants to name just a few.
“But then getting wide uptake has often been slow and frustrating.
“Now – at a time when the NHS is under pressure – rather than just running harder to stand still, it’s time to grab with both hands these practical new treatments and technologies.
“In the rest of our lives we’re seeing the difference that innovative tech makes, and now the NHS will have a streamlined way of getting ground-breaking and practical new technologies into the hands of patients and our frontline nurses, doctors and other staff. By doing that, we can transform people’s lives.”
One innovation supported by the NIA programme, which could become routinely commissioned across the NHS is MyCOPD, an app which allows patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disorder (COPD) to self-manage their condition on their phone or tablet.
Other supported innovations include AliveCor, a mobile heart monitor that instantly captures electrocardiogram (ECG) recordings, allowing the user to detect, monitor and manage heart arrhythmias, and PneuX – a cuffed ventilation tube and inflating device which is used to electronically monitor patients breathing in intensive care to prevent bacteria leaking into the lungs.