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The NHS at 70: Political Intelligence talk innovation

Over the last two months, we have celebrated 70 years of the NHS with commentary from some of the leading experts in the field of health and technology. Our aim has been to take the pulse of exactly what the NHS means to them and explore how technology innovation is impacting the system.

In the last of our series, we speak to Krittika Bhattacharya, Consultant at Political Intelligence, a public affairs agency.

While investing in new innovations can seem like an expensive investment at first, medical technologies hold enormous long-term potential in alleviating pressures on clinical staff, enabling greater self-care to empower patients and reducing bed days. Investments in technology will play an important in ensuring the NHS moves away from a culture of short-termism.  

The NHS explores its options 

NHS England have introduced a number of innovation pathways that aim to simplify routes to market for transformative technologies, while the introduction of the Accelerated Access Review pledged £86 million of Government support to drive the uptake, adoption and diffusion of health technologies. These are just some of the policy initiatives that demonstrate that health bodies and the Government are increasingly realising the necessity of nurturing new innovative technologies for the benefit of the NHS. The recent appointment of Matt Hancock to Health Secretary, who previously spoke passionately about the power of Artificial Intelligence in saving lives, further suggests that health tech will be increasingly intertwined with future health policy initiatives.  

Technology mass adoption is key 

It’s therefore increasingly clear that figures across health service bodies and Government are realising necessity of prioritising innovation in health but it’s important that we don’t stop there. Many technologies find success in an individual Trust but fail to be spread across the system, despite showing clear benefits to patient outcomes. Tech can only make an impact if industry and health bodies work collaboratively to both support successful innovators in getting their products into the system and investing time in training clinicians how to use new devices and tools. 

Collaboration should not be limited within the medical technology sector however other sectors within the life sciences, such as genomics and pharmaceuticals are constantly innovative too and play vital roles in delivering positive patient outcomes and each sector increasingly relies on others. For example, pharmaceutical companies regularly rely on devices to administer and monitor the use of drugs, while medical technology companies are increasingly relying on digital innovation and the development of artificial intelligence to combine the use of their products with wearables and apps. Acknowledging the potential for broad collaboration means avoiding the false premise that this is a zero-sum game.