How digital innovators are transforming the NHS

Public | April 2018 | The promise of Healthtech: How digital innovators are transforming the NHS 

Innovations such as cloud computing,  VR, 3D printing, genomics and artificial intelligence all provide opportunities for the NHS to sustainably relieve the
demographic and financial pressures it faces. Public, an organisation that helps startups to support the public sector, cautions that “without major reform, the NHS may see a £30 billion funding gap open up over the next three years alone.”

There are three factors driving this change, they are  the growing, ageing populations who are net consumers of public services, especially health care.  The rise in long-term, chronic conditions evident across all age groups.  The compounding effect of higher demand for health services and higher expectations for those health services as, in many cases, more expensive treatments become standard.  The report includes a feature on ‘Healthtech 27’ which are the most promising startups in healthcare.
Nicola Blackwood, the author of this report and former Health Innovation Minister,
argues that the NHS is still ‘risk averse’.  As part of this research, Public surveyed a number of health startups- they also spoke to NHS professionals, interviewing key decision-makers across the health and care landscape-to explore some of the barriers to innovation.

These interviews revealed:

  • Lack of clarity about evidence 
  • Regulation of digital health products is fast evolving
  • Slow procurement
  • Partial interoperability 
  • Unclear data security standards 
  • Limited change management and digital skills


Image source:

Alongside this, Healthtech also predicts 9 areas of opportunity for the future

  1. Procurement and productivity 
  2. Recruitment and training 
  3. Prevention
  4. Winter pressures and supported self-care
  5. AI in Pathology and Radiology
  6. Patient safety
  7. Mental health
  8. Social care
  9. Research 

Further details are available from Public’s website 

Public’s blog features a post on this report 

The full report is available here



NHS England scheme discovers four new innovations that will benefit patients

NHS England | April 2018 | Heart patients among those to benefit as NHS England backs innovation

A scheme run by NHS England to identify and fast track specific innovations into the NHS  is now in its second year.  It delivers improvements in patient care by cutting bureaucracy for clinicians and other innovators and encouraging uptake through the NHS. NHS England has just announced four innovations that have the potential to benefit patients.  Among the innovations is image analysis software that creates a 3D model of the heart and could prevent up to 35,000 patients a year undergoing invasive tests.  Other innovations identified include a suture which is designed to reduce infections, a new device that will reduce the number of infections from catheters and a ‘bowel scope’ to improve colorectal examinations.


  • HeartFlow – Advanced image analysis software that creates a 3D model of the coronary arteries and analyses the impact that blockages have on blood flow to rapidly diagnose patients with suspected coronary artery disease. The use of the device can avoid the need for invasive investigations such as coronary angiography, usually carried out under local anaesthetic, where a catheter is passed through the blood vessels to the heart to release a dye before X-rays are taken. NICE estimate up to 35,000 people per year could be eligible.
  • Plus Sutures – A new type of surgical suture – stitching – that reduces the rate of surgery-linked infection (surgical site infection) such as MRSA, through the use of antimicrobial suture packs. There were 823 cases of MRSA reported in the NHS in 2016/17.
  • Endocuff Vision – A new type of ‘bowel scope’ that improves colorectal examination for patients undergoing bowel cancer tests. Bowel cancer is the fourth most common cancer in England with 34,000 people diagnosed each year. For every 1,000 people screened for cancer, it is estimated that six cases could be avoided thanks to early detection through the use of this device.
  • SecurAcath – A device to secure catheters that reduces the infection risk for patients with a peripherally inserted central catheter. The use of this equipment helps to reduce the time taken to care and treat dressing changes. This type of catheter is normally used in people needing intravenous access for several weeks or months in both inpatient and outpatient settings. NICE estimate up to 120,000 people per year could be eligible.

Professor Tony Young, National Clinical Lead for Innovation at NHS England, said: “For new innovations to flourish and spread at scale access to funding is critical, by buying these four innovations centrally NHS England has removed the barriers to the spread of these innovations so patients can benefit faster.

The NHS’ 15 Academic Health Science Networks across England – will take direct responsibility for accelerating uptake locally.

All information from NHS England, the news release can be read on this webpage

‘Price match’ scheme created by Sheffield doctors helps to save £2 million

NHS England  | April 2018  | Pioneering price match scheme frees up millions for frontline care

A collaboration between doctors at hospitals in South Yorkshire which enabled them to purchase larger quantity of product has led to savings of  £2 million.  Among the savings  was a £400,000 in buying only one type of examination glove.


The clinician-led scheme in Sheffield  involved seven hospitals and required them to agree on the best product and commit to bulk buy jointly to save money. They used a scoring system on all products to ensure they met the high standards necessary for use by the NHS, with the products which met all of these criteria and provided the best value for money selected.  This led to an innovative ‘price match’ scheme that drove down the cost of simple items such as anti-embolism stockings and surgical gloves. 

Full story from NHS England