Innovation in today’s healthcare space is vital
Digital Health Now has never been a better time for digital healthcare innovation, but there are still some challenges which need to be faced, says Yinka Makinde, Programme Director at DigitalHealth.London.
“It’s no surprise that the demand for healthcare is outstripping our ability to supply services, forcing us to look at new models of care and ways to deliver them,” says Makinde. “We need technology to help improve the way we communicate, whether that’s healthcare professional to patient, patient to patient, or healthcare professional to healthcare professional.
“There’s a big push now in the NHS around ‘channel shifting’. With a large demand on A&E and GP practices, we’re running out of doctors and we are not going to be producing enough GPs over the next 10 years to be able to support the system.
“So, there’s a huge drive to channel shift to other healthcare professionals, like community-based nurses, pharmacists, etc. What this means is that some of the ongoing monitoring required for patients with long-term conditions will be conducted in other places – such as patient’s homes – and technology can enable that to happen.”
However, while the ability for organisations to innovate in today’s digital healthcare space is vital, implementing new ideas can be challenging.
“There are hundreds of ideas, technologies and apps out there,” says Makinde, “but many aren’t addressing the real needs in the system. Part of our role at DigitalHealth.London is to help that process, to scout for or sign post to digital solutions that the health and care system, patients and the public can benefit from.
Access to funding
“We’ve interacted with over 250 companies over the last year. Many have great ideas, some have developed compelling propositions, but few have managed to scale their innovations across the NHS. They also struggle to figure out the best business models, and how they’ll make money or sustain themselves. Access to funding continues to be a challenge not just for the innovators, but also on the healthcare providers’ side. You might have the most engaged clinician who likes your product, but they may struggle to access the they need to back fill them to get involved in the project and sustain it across the trust, beyond the one ward or department.
“We’re committed to helping overcome some of these hurdles, through raising buyers’ awareness about the digital market and supporting transformation, and through our one-year accelerator programme for suppliers, helping them to scale and find the right opportunities. We do this both directly and by working with our national bodies, such as NICE (National Institute for Health and Care Excellence), Office for Life Sciences, NIHR (National Institute for Health Research) and NHS England.”
Makinde adds: “Digital success relies on people – we need to invest in people in the NHS, not only giving them capability and confidence, but also giving them permission to actually take calculated risks, because inevitably digital innovation is risky. We need to invest in individuals who are desperate to transform the system, because they are the future and the ones who will drive the digital transformation in the NHS.”