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New guide helps unlock NHS for innovators to accelerate uptake of digital health technology

Comprehensive access landscape map will help entrepreneurs get digital health technologies to patients and healthcare professionals

Bracknell, UK, 30 November 2020 – A new guide for digital health innovators launched today by Boehringer Ingelheim (BI) provides a comprehensive assessment of the English health system, pooling key stakeholder insights and signposting to further information for entrepreneurs to overcome barriers to the adoption of new technologies.

The new, free to download guide features contributions from Academic Health Science Networks (AHSNs), experts in digital and data and successful healthcare innovators and aims to optimise innovator opportunities and help them plot a clear pathway for digital health technologies to improve services and reach patients. The Innovator’s Guide aims to help build a sustainable healthcare fit for the future, set out in the government’s Life Science Industrial Strategy.1

Guy Boersma, Managing Director of Kent Surrey Sussex Academic Health Science Network said, “The impact of the Coronavirus pandemic highlights the critical role of digital technology in driving the transformation of health and care services – enabling professionals to stay connected with patients, supporting online services and giving people greater control over their own care. This is exactly why AHSNs were established, and working in partnership we are making significant inroads into supporting the spread of transformative technologies: for example over the past six months we have supported the national rollout of electronic repeat dispensing and access to video and online consultations in almost every GP practice. However, the health and care system is complex to navigate and so it is useful for innovators to have the advice, support and signposting they need, so we can match proven solutions to health challenges as quickly as possible. With this in mind we welcome the Guide, the knowledge it shares along with effective approaches and best practice within digital healthcare.”

An Innovator’s Guide to the NHS: Navigating the barriers to digital health, provides a holistic view of the digital landscape, providing an outline of the regulatory, access and reimbursement environments facing digital entrepreneurs today. Integrating digital in healthcare requires not only a technological, but also cultural transformation, with the guide highlighting the need to overcome the fragmentation between local and national access and reimbursement and the challenge of digitally upskilling a huge workforce.

As public reliance on technologies is at an all-time high due to the need for increased remote healthcare during the pandemic,2,3 the time is now for everyone involved in patient care to work together and overcome barriers to innovation. In December 2019, NHS Digital reported that just 15 per cent of primary care appointments during the month had taken place by phone or online. By April 2020, this increased to 49 per cent. Use of health innovations online has also increased in recent months, with Diabetes UK’s Know Your Risk tool showing a huge 637% increase in usage from end of July to the end of September, compared to the two months previously.4

Date of preparation: November 2020

Supporting digital innovations is a government priority and organizations like

DigitalHealth.London have been set up to help increase health entrepreneurs’ confidence in

digital. The Digital Pioneer Fellowship, sponsored by Boehringer Ingelheim, is championing 37

change makers employed by NHS organisations in London and the South East to design and

lead digital transformation projects.

Uday Bose, Boehringer Ingelheim UK General Manager says: “COVID-19 has forced us all to

live differently and digital technology has been a key enabler of this. Without doubt it is the

greatest driver of accelerating tomorrow’s healthcare improvements. It’s great to see the huge

impetus behind digital innovation in the NHS and as a family owned, purpose led and innovation

driven company we are committed to helping improve the health of people now and for future

generations and digital transformation supports this ambition. The new Innovator’s Guide is a

culmination of months of interviews and insight gathering from NHS stakeholders and tech

innovators and we hope it will accelerate digital health adoption.”

There are great examples of digital health technologies contributing to greater efficiency, cost -

savings and sustainability within the NHS. Digital records innovation company, Patients Know

Best (PKB), set up by a fellow of BI’s Making More Health initiative, partnered with NHS Digital

to transform healthcare in Nottinghamshire, saving £100,000 per organisation each year for the

Integrated Care System (ICS)5 by increasing digital processes and interactions, coupled with

supporting the local population to access digital services and reduce its overall environmental


Dr. Mohammad Al-Ubaydli, CEO and Founder, Patients Know Best (PKB) states, “Our service

was built on necessity to help patients access and share their own records - most of which have

been locked away in paper form in a GP’s filing system for years. Since founding Patients Know

Best in 2008, patients have the ability to move between cities and even nations, not only with a

passport of identification but with a PKB digital health record that has become the gateway for

joined-up care. If we can continue to overcome the barriers so patients can benefit from

innovation in a collaborative way, the possibilities are endless. I’m thankful to Boehringer

Ingelheim for offering PKB the opportunity to innovate in this way and as result, empowering

patients with access and control of their personal health records.”

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Last Updated: 30-Nov-2020