ABHI Membership

ABHI at Expo: Devices, Digital and Data Lead the Way

NHS Chief Executive, Simon Stevens, made some very positive comments about the role of MedTech in the future delivery of healthcare at the NHS Health and Care Innovation Expo in Manchester this week.

Using his address to highlight the fact that the NHS remains true to its founding principles almost 70 years on, Stevens stressed that the focus of the next three or four months would be on preparing for the winter.

He went on to list a host of technologies that were now available to illustrate that the NHS is responsive to innovation, and had four key messages for the audience:

1. Whilst acknowledging the important role of the pharmaceutical industry to our country’s economy, he was clear that there would continue to be price control initiatives to address a 14% growth in the medicines bill. The industry can expect some robust discussions with NHS England as they renegotiate the Pharmaceutical Price Regulation Scheme (PPRS) and there would be aggressive targets for the widespread uptake of biosimilars immediately post-launch.

2. We must exploit the advantage of the NHS in the use of anonymised clinical data. He is anxious to implement the recommendations in the Life Sciences Industrial Strategy with regard to the creation of digital innovation hubs. The number and location of these hubs will be determined later in the year.

3. We need to be better at Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning, with Stevens referencing applications in radiology, pathology and dermatology.

4. We must continue to make progress on the use of MedTech. Stevens announced that the Test Bed programme would be funded for a further two years with the aim of increasing the number of people treated from 4,000 to 15,000. The Innovation Technology Payment will also be expanded in April, and will include Primary Care based technologies.

Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt, closed the conference in similar fashion, asking the audience to consider how technology might change the way we deliver healthcare when the NHS is 80 years old. The majority of his speech focussed on the digital agenda and the improvements in the last year following the Wachter report. The programme of Global Digital Exemplars is to be extended to include a number of fast following hospitals and an increase in the number of mental health sites.

Hunt also announced that the contract for a NHS Digital Academy had been awarded to a consortium of Imperial, Edinburgh and Harvard Universities, and acknowledged the important role played by the outgoing NHS Chief Clinical Information Officer, Keith MacNeil who will speak at the ABHI UK Market Conference this week.

The Secretary of State said he believed the next decade would be one of patient power and set the NHS eight challenges for its online capability over the next 12 months. He called for a fully functioning online version of 111 and access to one’s own medical records. He wanted to see a doubling of the current 1,000,000 GP appointments booked online and a marked increase in the 4,000,000 repeat prescriptions each month. People’s options for data sharing, organ donation and end of life care should also be easily changeable via web portals, and there needed to be more online support for people with long term medical conditions. Additionally, plans were announced for 20 new digital inclusion hubs and Wi-Fi access across the NHS Estate.

The Expo is now firmly established in the NHS calendar and there were incredibly positive messages regarding MedTech throughout the conference. What was significant however, was the fact that of the 5,000 delegates, very few were from the operational NHS.

As we consider the next steps with the Life Sciences Industrial Strategy and the Accelerated Access Review, improving this engagement will be a critical success factor for both government and industry. ABHI will launch a paper on this topic commissioned from the Nuffield Trust later this year.

With best regards,