NHS searching for technology innovators for test bed programme

The NHS has called for innovators to develop new technologies and digital services to improve care for patients and save money for taxpayers

The NHS has launched an open call for innovators to develop new technologies and digital services to improve care for patients and save money for taxpayers.

Alongside the UK government, the NHS wants to give innovators, either from the UK or overseas, the opportunity to test health service technology in a real clinical setting.

The announcement made a point to include internet of things technologies as eligible for the programme due to their use of digital technology and data.

NHS England chief executive Simon Stevens said the ambition of the NHS is to become the best place in the world to test innovations that produce benefits for patients and taxpayers.

“We’ll never be the system that pays the highest prices, but we could be the health service most open to new and better ways of providing care,” he said.

As part of the innovation programme the NHS will work with 15 Academic Health Science Networks (AHSNs) to set up five test beds in GP surgeries, hospitals, community health teams, social care or voluntary centres.

This will ensure proposed innovations work in the setting they are intended for use in, alongside already existing NHS processes and technologies.

Read more about healthcare IT

  • The Health and Social Care Information Centre has set out a five-year technology strategy that aims to make the UK a world leader in the development and use of health and social care apps by 2020
  • NHS England has committed to making patient-facing digital services a requirement by 2020

Once the AHSNs have paired with national bodies to identify appropriate sites and innovators for the test beds, a combination of national sponsorship and funding will support the innovator’s own investment in the healthcare systems.

Test beds will be selected on their ability to enhance disease prevention, improve healthcare services and reduce healthcare costs.

The innovation programme is part of the NHS’s Five Year Forward View strategy, which aims to invest in technology to increase patient care and close growing gaps in service.

The NHS has made lots of steps to invest in technology and digital services in an attempt to create cheap scalable IT systems capable of catering for the increasing UK population.

Health secretary Jeremy Hunt recently announced the government has set aside £1.9bn to fund development of better care in the NHS, available to authorities meeting standards such as implementing electronic health records.

The NHS has also released its IT procurement framework for clinical information systems, through which NHS organisations can purchase digital healthcare systems.

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