Breaking into…the NHS

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

Electronic medical record show on tablet connect to patient information.

“Grants and research funds can validate your product and gain new clients”

“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


“Ensure clinical systems can work together seamlessly across sites and organisations”

“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

“Understand the complex nature of how the NHS works; everything from financial incentives to data flows and organisational roles. Think about getting onto a framework, through which an NHS organisation can purchase your service or product, (for example, G-Cloud or Digital Outcomes and Specialists on the Digital Marketplace). Finally, consider grants or accelerator programmes that connect you with NHS organisations, such as SBRI Healthcare (an NHS England initiative).Additionally, Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCGs) and providers who are adopting outcomes-based approaches to contracting will have a new focus on incentivising outcomes (the things that make a real difference to people’s lives). They will be looking for products, services or interventions that can improve good health and avoid illness. Outcomes-based contracts provide a reimbursement mechanism for digital health innovations, as well payment for prevention.” – Nasrin Hafezparast, Co-founder and CTO, Outcomes Based Healthcare

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The NHS Innovation Accelerator and NHS testbeds can boost your digital health business

“We are finding more and more digital health businesses are finding support from their local AHSN to work with the NHS. With 15 AHSNs covering the country, they have great contacts in their local NHS organisations and many have special programmes in digital health, like the DigitalHealth.London programme we have developed.” – Anna King, Commercial Director, Health Innovation Network

Is your digital health business currently working with the NHS? Share your advice and tips for success in the comments below.

*This article was originally published by the Digital Catapult Centre, to read the original article, click here. For more digital health news, check out our Digital Health Festival and follow us on Twitter @DigiCatapult using the Digital Health Festival hashtag #digitalhealthfest.

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