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NHS unveils new developer programs to spark innovation for patients

The National Health Service in England announced two new innovator programs to accelerate the use of digital health tools that benefit patients and remove barriers slowing adoption of innovation in the NHS.

Part of a wider effort led by NHS England and the Academic Health Science Networks, NHS England says innovations eligible for the program have to be used in at least three NHS sites and demonstrate the potential for a return on investment within a year of deployment.

Applications are also open for the 4th call of the NHS Innovation Accelerator (NIA), providing bespoke support, aimed at innovators whose solutions are addressing one or more of the following priorities: prevention and early diagnosis, mental health, and primary care.

“These two programs will allow exciting innovations to flourish and spread as NHS England is once again prepared to support innovators and foot the bill for a select group of products so patients can benefit faster,” said Tony Young, NHS England National Clinical Lead for Innovation.

A PUBLIC report published earlier this year, authored by former Health Minister Nicola Blackwood, found that partial interoperability and poor procurement practices were some of the key hurdles to selling new tech into the NHS, making the health service a 'challenging digital terrain'.

NHS England is funding a small number of proven innovations through the Innovation Technology Payment (ITP) 2019/20, launched at the Health and Care Innovation Expo in Manchester this month. Recent innovations selected to take part in the ITP scheme include the HeartFlow FFRct (fractional flow reserve) Analysis technology from California-based company HeartFlow, which uses data from CT scans to create a personalised 3D model of the coronary arteries and then analyse the impact of blockages on blood flow to help clinicians diagnose coronary artery disease by eliminating the need for patients to undergo invasive procedures.

Healthcare IT News sister site the British Journal of Healthcare Computing reported back in August that the software was expected to be rolled out across more than 35 NHS hospitals by 2019.

Developments supported through the last round of the NIA include’s tool, a home-based urinalysis kit that turns a smartphone into a clinical-grade diagnostic device.

The start-up, which recently received FDA 510(k) clearance for, announced in June that it was partnering with Salford Royal NHS Foundation Trust in a project known as the virtual renal clinic.

“Technology has the potential to transform healthcare and we must do all we can to break down the barriers that prevent patients from accessing the best possible treatment," added Health Minister Lord O'Shaughnessy.

Innovators have until Oct. 3 to apply for the ITP programme and until Oct. 24 to submit their applications for the NIA.

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