BI launches new guide to help unlock NHS for innovators and accelerate uptake of digital health tech

DigitalHealth.London and the Academic Health Science Networks (AHSNs) were among the experts in digital and data who contributed to the creation of a new, free guide for innovators launched today by Boehringer Ingelheim (BI).

The guide 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 guide aims to optimise innovator opportunities and help them plot a clear pathway for digital health technologies to improve services and reach patients. It aims to help build a sustainable healthcare fit for the future, set out in the government’s Life Science Industrial Strategy.

Sara Nelson, Deputy Programme Director for DigitalHealth.London and Lead of the Digital Pioneer Fellowship programme said, “The Digital Pioneer Fellowship, sponsored by BI, supports NHS workers pioneering digital innovations in their trust. This Innovator’s Guide aligns with our objective of increasing innovation within the NHS and has been designed to help innovators navigate the health system.”

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.

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 and Accelerator 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)[iv] by increasing digital processes and interactions, coupled with supporting the local population to access digital services and reduce its overall environmental impact.

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.”

The Innovators Guide can be downloaded here

[i] NHS England. Around one million downloads of fitness app during lockdown as people stay fit. July 2020. Available online at Last accessed October 2020.  

[ii] Health Service Journal. Pandemic leads to huge change in patient and GP behaviour. April 2020. Available online at Last accessed October 2020.  

[iii] NHS England. Surge in people checking their risk of type 2 diabetes. Available online at Last accessed October 2020.

[iv] The Tinder Foundation, Health & Digital: Reducing Inequalities, Improving Society, 2016. Value for money was measured using cost and efficiency savings and RoI calculated at 6:1 or £6.40 for every £1 invested by Nottingham and Nottinghamshire ICS.