The NHS is pushing digital health as one of its major focuses with the launch of five new accelerators.
Five new schemes run by the Academic Health Science Networks have been launched in London, Manchester, the South West, East Midlands, Kent, Surrey and Sussex, to help speed up the adoption of digital health technologies across the NHS.
The schemes involve 34 companies selected due to their potential of helping the NHS meet the challenges of an ageing population and low resources.
It’s the first time a scheme has operated outside of London, where the DigitalHealth.London accelerator has been running for two years, generating savings of over £50 million for the NHS and working with 60 companies. Now, as part of the new schemes the 34 companies will receive a range of support which includes specialist training, help with product development, networking opportunities and a chance to showcase their products to NHS decision-makers.
The companies will also receive access to one-to-one support from someone with a strong clinical background and who can help them navigate the NHS.
Last week, health and social care secretary Matt Hancock pledged to make the NHS “the most cutting-edge system in the world” through the use of technology.
Mike Hannay, chair of England’s Academic Health Science Networks said: “Despite the array of talent and resources available, there is room for much better collaboration between SMEs and the health system to increase England’s competitiveness in digital innovation. Connections between entrepreneurial innovation and health are essential for England to realise its potential and become a world leader in digital health innovation. With Brexit on the horizon, this scheme is more important than ever before. We have seen rapid growth in the companies supported by our existing London accelerator and look forward to building on this with the next generation of start-ups.”
Dr Mark Harmon, strategic director at eConsult, one of the companies that took part in the 2017-18 London accelerator said: “For small health companies and start-ups, the NHS can be a very difficult place to navigate and do business. Whilst wanting to make positive changes for a sustainable NHS, there can be significant barriers to overcome. Working with the London accelerator programme has helped us with contacts and getting to the people that matter, and in turn contributed to an acceleration in our growth. We’ve almost doubled the number of practices we work in during the course of the scheme and are mobilising in almost four times as many.”