The National Health Services (NHS) in the United Kingdom regards innovation as critical to achieving its ambitions laid out in its mandate to reinvigorate the commissioning systems, engage in research, translate scientific progress into its operations and deliver improved outcomes for patients.
The UK has a world-renowned life sciences industry that is both a magnet for investment and a major driver for economic growth – boosting productivity, supporting healthcare innovation and employing over 220,000 people across various states and cities. A strong science base, universities, innovative progressive culture and leading healthcare system are at the heart of the sector.
Last year, during September, NHS England launched the ‘Innovation and Technology Payment (ITP) 2019/20’ program under a Five Year Forward view plan. The programme includes adopting market-ready existing medical devices, digital platforms, diagnostics, and technologies which have proven their clinical effectiveness, improvement to the quality and efficiency of patient care, by removing financial as well as procurement barriers that initially inhibited the exposure to relevant advancements. The ITP programme will however incorporate its budgetary limits and ensure maximum learning from the programme while fostering the much-needed culture change.
While initially NHS was exhibiting limited progress in terms of digital and technology aspect, it is now catching up with a rising dire need to modernize and scale up efficiently. As the new technology transformation revolution kicks in, there must be simultaneous injections for adequate funding from the government to sustain current levels of services as well as implement new ones. This is because the Government Watchdog, National Audit Office reported deteriorating financial health of England’s National Health Service (NHS), caused by unresolved rising deficits. Increased health spending, shortage of doctors, ageing population and falling immigration which comprise young talent has escalated the problem. Thus, cost management is a major concern while NHS sets on a new drive to enhance its services.
In the most recent plan lay out, there are about four commitments that have been highlighted. The first one is that all the British nationals will have access to digital consultations comprising video and telephone appointments, thus radically transforming the patient-doctor interface. New technology will be deployed for this. Secondly, trial devices such as ‘smart inhalers’ for distant monitoring of patients will be used. The remaining commitments cover the possible use of artificial intelligence to interpret CT and MRI scans, and lastly developing a project to offer children with cancer the chance to sequence the genomes.
At the backdrop of such announcements, the start-ups trying to develop on these technologies have received immense attention and investments in the recent years. Leveraging on the opportunities for expansion, these start-ups have now started focussing on the potential NHS contracts. This is happening as NHS eases its tight operational and expansion criteria. It has been shedding its inflexible stature in the market and looking to external solutions amidst widely growing start ups in this domain. The authorities are slowly inculcating the idea that it is futile to build new systems while other sectors have already done the same. In fact, several start-ups like KRY and Babylon, have offered lucrative positions to senior officials from the government and the NHS.
It is obvious that the road to have a modern technical architecture for the health and care service sector in UK is full of opportunities. There is a massive potential to deliver better services and to unlock the innovations thus setting world-class standards. The NHS has been developing contracts and imposing flexible requisites for the small businesses to bag these chances. Since then, innovative small companies have been targeting contracts in health services being transformed by technology and making the most of opportunities to scale up and expand. The collaborative stance on refurbishing the healthcare sector will essentially prove to be a boon for the economy given it is backed up by efficient funding.
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