Breaking into…the NHS
One of the biggest opportunities open to digital health businesses in the UK is working with the NHS. What are the various routes into working with such a large and complex organisation? To tie in with our Digital Health Festival, we asked various digital health experts for their advice.
“Start with your local Academic Health Science Network (AHSN) and then get practical advice from the relevant healthcare professionals for your idea who are actually working in the hospitals and clinics.” – Felix Jackson, Founder, medDigital
“Approach the NHS preferably in partnership with an existing supplier. This will allow you to progress quicker and will also give you a better chance of success.
Grants and research funds can validate your product and gain new clients. But before making radical moves, interpret your realistic chances of success, make sure you know what customers need and analyse your competitors. Most importantly, if the opportunity brings any risks or over stretches your immediate capabilities, make a decision to pursue later or not at all. “- Joao Bocas, Digital Health Influencer and Thought Leader, Salutem
“Make sure you really understand how clinicians work, and the technology you develop actively solves their problems on a day to day basis. Involve clinicians in the system’s design from the outset. User interfaces need to be built depending on who is viewing the information, so you need to know each users’ priorities. As the clinical work changes, technology will also need to change, so make sure it is adaptable and customisable. Finally, ensure clinical systems can work together seamlessly across sites and organisations, enabling effective data sharing and integrated models of care.” – Sophie Castle-Clarke, Fellow in Health Policy, Nuffield Trust“If you are an international company think long and hard about entering the NHS market and then think even harder. You need to be certain that you can either make an existing process more efficient, or that you can find a champion with energy and funds to get your new approach and process a foothold. Avoid piloting for free and when someone tells you they are interested, ask, ‘How much time and money can you put in?’ If they have no answer, move on quickly because you are just wasting your time; the NHS has no compunction about wasting your time.” – Jonathon Carr-Brown, Managing Director, Lost for Words
“The NHS can be challenging for innovators to navigate. As a result we have a number of national schemes to support innovators in achieving this, such as theNHS Innovation Accelerator, NHS testbeds, and regionally, the Academic Health Science Networks which are each positioned to interface between the NHS and innovators.” – Mahiben Maruthappu, Senior Fellow, NHS England