A new approach to healthcare innovation is upon us. With the launch of NHSX, a unit bringing together talent from the NHS, Government and industry, we could be set to usher in a new dawn of unity when it comes to rolling out new technology.
Anyone familiar with technology projects in the NHS will know that efficiency and integration don’t tend to be the words most commonly associated with the area. It’s not unusual for one Trust to discover that separate teams have been procuring different solutions to the same problem. The legacy of top-down roll-outs from private providers or consultants is not one of glory. And the announcement of yet another new system or bit of kit for clinicians to familiarise themselves with tends to produce eye rolls rather then applause.
Which is why the ambitions of NHSX are laudable. A coordinated approach to innovation throughout the health service should help bring forth much needed clarity for clinicians and Trusts alike. Pooling the expertise of frontline staff, entrepreneurs and Government should, in theory, make it easier to get the right solutions into the right hands as quickly as possible.
NHSX wants to make sure that Trusts “don’t have to reinvent the wheel each time” a new technology or service is sought. Instead, encouraging collective experience to dictate what makes an impact (and how it can be rolled out) will save vast amounts of time, energy and duplication.
This will help end the culture of small pilots that then struggle to achieve a foothold across the health service at large, as well as the multiple duplications of efforts (and associated costs) that can be found throughout the NHS. The ambitions of NHSX should help shift this culture and allow effective innovation to scale much faster.
At Patchwork, we strongly believe that there are some game-changing technology offerings already in existence that stand to make a wide-reaching and positive impact on our NHS. Creating a unit where all stakeholders can come together to push for collective, evidenced-based change will help get these innovations into the hands of people that will benefit them much faster than before.
We hope that this step forward will reduces the fragmentation we currently see across the system. Likewise, we hope that the brightest entrepreneurs will no longer be put off by the NHS’ notoriously difficult procurement process and instead invest their energies into creating solutions for this most important of institutions.
But, above all, we hope this marks a shift in what it means to introduce new solutions to our health service. With a more coordinated, cohesive and intelligent approach to rolling out new technology, we want to see change that truly supports those on the frontline and helps clinicians carry out their jobs more effectively. If we can end the era of frustration and eye-rolling on the ward when a new directive is sent from on-high, and instead replace it with confidence that this will be innovation that will work for them, we will be well on the way towards creating a truly digital, empowered NHS.