The NHS has necessarily advanced in line with changes to its serviced population in terms of demographics, disease states and expectations. But in order to meet these dynamic needs, within a framework of limited financial resources, many clinicians are now keen to embrace an innovative approach.
Recently there has been a drive towards disease prevention and individualised patient care, along with empowerment, facilitating patients to take control of their own illnesses. A part of this strategy is the plan for adoption of modern technologies, where this can be safely and effectively achieved. The Rt Hon Matt Hancock MP, Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, has shared his views in the department of health and social care's recent government paper entitled "Prevention is better than cure," which details these concepts.
Earlier this year, NHS news responded to the question of how to bring clinical innovations that improve patient care into the NHS with it's description of a clinical programme that has recently been expanded. Named the Clinical entrepreneur programme, and now open to all NHS clinicians in the including nurses, allied health professionals and pharmacists, this scheme was created to support the development of an entrepreneurial mindset in training clinicians and engage with them as future leaders of the NHS.
In a recent article in the Financial Times Prof Tony Young, a consultant urological surgeon at Southend University Hospital and head of innovation for the National Health Service in England has expressed a view that in order to move forward within the confines of limited resources NHS partnerships with outside players will continue to be constructed. These being not just with established, large or global companies such as Google, Microsoft and Amazon, where he notes that successful examples of collaboration to date include Google DeepMind’s work with Moorfields Eye Hospital (interpreting and triaging 3D retinal imaging though AI) or Microsoft’s work in Cambridge (using machine learning and AI to effectively expedite radiation delivery to cancer patients). Prof Young is also positive as regards partnerships with much smaller tech start-ups such as OurPath, a company that, he explains, won a contract for the National Diabetes Prevention Programme and assists patients in taking control of their diabetes, using smart scales, 3G connection, a smartphone app and and social networking.
In this article Prof Young goes on to highlight the need for a defined pathway for the introduction of innovations in terms of testing, research and evaluation followed, in a timely manner, by system wide uptake. He concluded: "Some people say our technology is so expensive and how can we afford [it]? And my argument would be, we can’t afford not to."