Digital technologies have the potential to enable the transformation of health and care. There is no doubt in my mind that the impact could be revolutionary and reach across the entire spectrum of health and care around the globe.
The scale of this potential impact has not been lost on the investor community either, where in the United States alone, $6.5bn has been invested in digital health companies in the first six months of this year. This is an incredible amount of money, considering many of the companies being invested in are still at the start-up or SME stage.
What about UK businesses?
Clearly, we are unable to compete with those kinds of numbers, so how do we ensure that UK businesses are not left behind?
Across the country we have significant clusters of digital businesses, operating in many sectors. But many of these digital businesses operating in health struggle to get their solutions adopted and diffused at scale.
We know that the NHS is a very complex organisation that can be difficult to engage with and slow to adopt new and innovative technologies, so how can we overcome at least some of these barriers and give enterprising businesses a fighting chance?
Get it right at the design phase
One place to start may well be in the design of digital solutions.
Wouldn’t it make sense to design your digital health solution alongside your target customer?
I don’t mean simply the NHS, but the clinician. These people truly understand the real issues as they experience them on a daily basis. They may or may not understand how to develop the potential solution, but as they acutely understand the issues, they are crucial in getting the solution right to meet the clinicians and patients needs. And it’s imperative that they are not only used at the beginning or later stages, but throughout the process, providing their expertise throughout the development of the project.
This, I believe is where true collaboration is at its finest and can result in a solution that meets the clinicians needs, primarily because it’s been designed directly with the clinician providing the business with a better chance of success.
It would be foolhardy to suggest this will solve all of the challenges in doing business with the NHS. But, surely it makes sense that:
a product developed with a clinician should be better than one without.
Digital Health Technology Catalyst now open
The Digital Health Technology Catalyst is a new £35 million funding programme to be funded through the Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund over the next 4 years. The catalyst will support the development of new products and the growth of SMEs. We have just opened round 1 of the Digital Health Technology Catalyst.
In this funding competition Innovate UK is to invest up to £8 million in projects that develop new digital technology solutions to healthcare challenges. Projects must be led by an SME and focus on the development of digital health or digitally-enabled medical technologies. They must have the potential to achieve one or more of the following:
- improve patient outcomes
- transform healthcare delivery
- enable more efficient delivery of healthcare
- 31 July 2017 – Competition opens
- 11 October 2017 12:00pm – Competition closes
- 17 November 2017 – Applicants notified
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