NICE debuts standards to help ease NHS adoption of new technology

National Institute for Health and Care Excellence is calling on the tech community to provide feedback on its plans to help NHS commissioners make better-informed technology adoption decisions

The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) is inviting feedback on plans to introduce evidence-based standards to determine what technologies the NHS should use.

The standards are designed to guide purveyors of digital healthcare technologies on what constitutes “good levels of evidence” when trying to convince NHS commissioning managers that their technologies meet the requirements of patients and users.

For example, it is hoped that the standards will help commissioners ask informed questions of technology developers so that they, in turn, can pinpoint products that could bring great benefit to the NHS at large.

NICE evidence resources director Alexia Tonnel said the standards are designed to boost transparency for providers about what makes a technology a good fit for the health service and what does not.

“This will enhance understanding between innovators and healthcare commissioners, supporting the way in which promising, value-driven technologies are introduced into the NHS for the benefit of clinicians and patients,” said Tonnel.

NICE has worked closely with a number of healthcare stakeholders, including NHS England, NHS Digital, Public Health England, MedCity and DigitalHealth.London, to craft the standards, which are split into two broad categories.

The designations are designed to ensure that any technologies the NHS adopts will provide value for money, and be clinically effective.

Dr Indra Joshi, digital programme clinical lead at NHS England, said technology could have a transformational impact on the way the health service operates, and the standards are designed to help suppliers through the process of getting their offerings adopted more quickly.

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“Harnessing new digital technologies could help the NHS provide better care for patients and empower them to take more control of their own health and care,” said Joshi.

“The NHS needs to be sure that any new digital tools are backed by appropriate evidence and these new standards, developed in partnership with NHS bodies, industry and academia, will be the start of that dialogue of defining what ‘good’ looks like in digital health technologies.”

The standards will also give commissioners a means of categorising and grading digital health products from a patient risk and operational perspective. Lower-risk product categories include ones that are more advisory in nature or help patients to log details of their ailments, while higher-risk ones are used by healthcare professionals to perform clinical calculations or diagnose conditions.

The consultation on the standards is open until Monday 7 January 2019.

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