Three million patients benefit from new innovations in pioneering NHS programme

Three million patients have begun to access new apps, safety devices, online networks, and a host of other new technologies and services during the first nine months of a pioneering NHS programme.

68 NHS organisations are using one or more of 17 new innovations which aim to improve care by, for example, reducing clinical incidents, helping people self-care and linking up patients with others or with research schemes.

The NHS Innovation Accelerator programme was launched last year to help introduce new innovations into the NHS and its success after just nine months was highlighted at the UK eHealth Week conference this week (20 April).

Seventeen Fellows, each representing an evidence-based innovation, are being supported to take their innovative technology or service to an increasing number of patients at a greater pace in a bid to improve patient care and help put the NHS on a financially sustainable footing.

The Fellows have, to date, raised more than £8m from external sources, an eight fold increase of the Accelerator’s initial investment of £1m. They have received mentorship by high profile leaders in healthcare and access to peer to peer support and learning events.  NHS England has helped unblock systemic barriers to spreading innovation and the country’s 15 Academic Health Science Networks have assisted in getting them adopted into clinical practice.

Professor Sir Bruce Keogh, NHS England’s Medical Director, said: “There is a real need across the NHS to speed up the process of innovation – from initial invention right through to mass uptake of the most successful across the health and care system. Together with their mentors, who are some of the most high-profile leaders in England, the innovation fellows will provide models and lessons for us all in how to do that.”

The NHS Innovation Accelerator (NIA) is a fellowship programme being delivered collaboratively by NHS England, UCLPartners, The Health Foundation and with the Academic Health Science Networks (AHSNs).

The innovations include:

An online service at the forefront of research and innovation:

  • Join Dementia Research: a national service matching people interested in participating in dementia research with suitable studies. Join Dementia Research now has 17,433 people registered with more than 5000 people enrolled in clinical trials – a 900% increase since creator Piers Kotting joined the programme.

A digital platform to improve safety through reduction/avoidance of harm:

  • Nervecentre: a whole hospital digital platform that enables doctors and nurses to carry out patient observations, handovers and clinical assessments electronically is now used in over 30 trusts in the UK.  Independent research identified a 70% reduction in clinical incidents such as patients deteriorating because of a delay in finding the right doctor and a 100% reduction in avoidable deaths out-of-hour.

An online self-management system to enable patients to self-care:

  • MyCOPD: is an online 24-hour self-management, education, expert advice and pulmonary rehabilitation platform for patients with Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disorder (COPD).  North Lincolnshire CCG has recently agreed to purchase licenses for its COPD population with other CCGs interested in implementing the service.
  • Paul, a patient using myCOPD said: “I have used myCOPD for 9 months, I use it every day. Last year, before using myCOPD I had 12 exacerbations, this year I have had just 2. I now know when and how to take my medication, when to use my rescue pack and perform my rehab exercises most days.”

A social network enabling peer to peer support:

  • HealthUnlocked: a social network that allows patients, caregivers and health advocates to connect to others living with similar conditions and having similar experiences, has grown to more than 500 user-generated specialised communities, and has over 3.5 million visits per month globally.

Professor Sir David Fish, Managing Director of UCLPartners, said: “Innovation is all about working together to address defined needs for patients, staff and the care system – embedding and delivering innovation as we transition to place-based systems of care. Through access to expertise and support networks, the fellows have made tremendous progress in getting innovations into practice. This is leading to real benefits for patients and will inspire a future generation of innovators.”

NHS Innovation Accelerator Programme Co-founder Dr Mahiben Maruthappu said: “We are supporting the roll out of life-saving technologies in record time. The NHS is entering an innovation revolution. These results, although early, show that the NHS is ready for it.”

Four of the Fellows will be joining a panel on the mainstage on the second day of UK eHealth week sharing their experiences of scaling in the NHS.

A second wave of the programme will open on 23 May which will aim to recruit a further eight fellows.

Please see the NHS innovation Accelorator webpages or contact for more information.


  1. Tom Chapman says:

    Well I think innovation is a great thing and the more the NHS can do to embrace technology and the internet of things, the better I feel things will be. Looking forward to further updates!

  2. Giovanna Forte says:

    A step in the right direction. However … Simon Stevens’ office has advised me in writing that “NHS England is unable to influence the NHS Supply Chain.” Until this changes, I see little point in NHS England promoting innovation that it cannot support in the longer term. If the NHS ran their own supply chain the dots might be more easily joined up. Meantime, let’s all ask DHL what they are doing about it.