NHS opens international search for new innovations

NHS England is calling on the best innovators from across the world to apply to join two schemes that aim to ensure NHS patients benefit from new technology faster.

Two programmes that look to spread innovation across the NHS have opened for new applications as NHS England once again champions the spread of the latest and greatest new technology.

Through the Innovation Technology Payment NHS England can directly fund a small group of proven innovations to help spread them at scale across the NHS.

Over 7,000 patients have already benefitted from innovations that joined the programme this year, with a further 95,000 patients benefitting from the previous version of the programme. Recent innovations include HeartFlow, advanced image analysis software that creates a 3D model of the coronary arteries and analyses the impact that blockages have on blood flow to rapidly diagnose patients with suspected coronary artery disease.

Individual innovators are the focus of the NHS Innovation Accelerator, where they are provided with bespoke support such as mentoring to help spread their innovations across the NHS.

Since it launched in 2015, 36 innovators representing 37 innovations have been supported with an additional 1,423 NHS sites using their innovations.

Dr Sam Roberts, director of innovation and life sciences at NHS England, said: “Thousands of patients have already benefitted from access to new and exciting innovations because NHS England is committed to spreading innovation across the NHS.

“We are now calling on the best innovators from across the world to apply to join either of these two projects so even more NHS patients can benefit from the very best new tools and technologies available.”

The Innovation Technology Payment (ITP) removes some of the financial and procurement barriers preventing successful innovations from being adopted into the NHS. For innovations to be eligible they have to be in use in at least three NHS sites and must be able to demonstrate the potential for a return on investment within a year of implementation.

A second scheme, the NHS Innovation Accelerator (NIA) provides bespoke support to innovators with compelling evidence-based innovations, to enable their innovations to be taken up at pace across the NHS. Eligible innovations must address one or more of the following priorities: prevention and early diagnosis (cancer, cardiovascular disease), mental health, primary care.

Professor Tony Young, national clinical lead for innovation at NHS England, said: “These two programmes will allow exciting innovations to flourish and spread as NHS England is once again prepared to support innovators and foot the bill for a select group of products so patients can benefit faster.

“From the very beginning the NHS has been at the forefront of driving innovation, as we look to develop our long term plan the NHS will continue to champion world leading technology.”

Health Minister Lord O’Shaughnessy said: “Technology has the potential to transform healthcare and we must do all we can to break down the barriers that prevent patients from accessing the best possible treatment.

“We want the NHS to lead the world in innovation to make patients safer, help more people access health services at home and make every pound go further.”

Innovations supported on the latest round of the NIA include:

  • WaitLess – An app that shows patients with minor injuries where they can go to access the quickest treatment, using real time waiting times and traffic/travel information.
  • – A tool that provides patients with clinically accurate urine analysis from home in a matter of minutes, helping to identify Chronic Kidney Disease and UTIs as well as pre-eclampsia in pregnant women. Patients perform a dipstick test at home and then, using the app, take a picture of the dipstick against a special backing. The analysis is then sent through the app directly to the patient’s doctor for diagnosis.

Applications for the ITP are open until noon on 3 October 2018, should be made on the NHS England Innovation website.

Applications for the NIA are open until midnight on 24 October 2018, should be made on the NHS Innovation Accelerator website.