National Health Service Enabling innovation in products and services

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The National Health Service (NHS) was established in 1948, emerging after World War II. Despite its name, it is made up of hundreds of independent organizations and tends to focus on curative measures, with public health functions mainly existing in local authorities. The Public Health England body was disbanded in 2021, and its functions were divided among various organizations.

The NHS has had a challenging and complex relationship with technology. By the early 2000s, it was well behind the curve and embarked on the “National Programme for IT,” which morphed into “Connecting for Health.” These radical programs aimed to overhaul technology in healthcare but faced many challenges at all levels, leading to a hesitant approach to technology—a culture that still exists many years later.

For many Health Tech Innovations, the NHS might not be the ideal incubator people imagine. It struggles with facilitating the challenges that often face small tech companies, and while there are pockets of innovation, it can still be slow. It's vital to carefully consider your route to market and which battles you pick, especially in the early-revenue stage and pre-revenue.

There has been a shift away from big national initiatives towards local and regional efforts, which have both merits and drawbacks. There is an enormous amount of duplication, reinvention, and revalidation—leading to the infamous “not invented here syndrome” and “the NHS having more pilots than British Airways” quips. That said, the flip side to this is that it has seen a rise in innovation and technology, creating a marketplace of ideas that is easier, especially for smaller businesses, to engage with.

Example projects and experience

Over 20 years experience in and around health technology gained through various positions and projects, including 7 years in the NHS. Relevant examples include :

  • Supporting various mutli-site research & evaluation studies
  • RTT (18 weeks) and Diagnostic Wait times
  • Department of Health Innovation & Transformation programmes
  • Information Systems Lead at NHS National Screening Programmes
  • Assurance and rollout of eRedbook pilot at multiple NHS sites
  • Integration and piloting of app in the NHS.

Do you need support?

If you have a particular need within your team please feel free to reach out and discuss your requirements. Support can be provided in a number of areas including :

  • Shaping, strategy, plans and business development
  • Guidance and advice for project/product development
  • Input to bid development
  • Project / product delivery

Flexible arrangements to meet your specific needs. Choose from single-day(s), block draw down arrangements, or regular monthly commitment.

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Useful references