Evidence and Research

Evidence and Research 

The NHS, now in its 70th year, recognises the importance and value attached to the digital health market. There is an understanding that society has evolved and is both information rich and information hungry. The doctor – patient relationship has changed to a partnership model, as patients live longer and start to accumulate more long-term conditions which they need to monitor themselves, at work and at home. There are now more than 260,000 apps in the digital health market and the sector is confidently expected to expand significantly.

Challenges for Evidence Generation

Robust evidence on clinical, cost and implementation effectiveness will be vital if there is to be appropriate uptake and implementation of these innovations. However less than 1% of apps in the market have an evidence base. This is in part due to the unique challenges facing evidence generation in this field. Most digital health applications differ fundamentally from conventional interventions, primarily because they are designed to evolve continuously in response to user and other feedback. They also evoke much greater variability of engagement and compliance due to personal preference and organisational factors. Thus, while evidence requirements for effectiveness and cost effectiveness may mirror those for conventional interventions in many respects, factors relating to engagement by patients, professionals and commissioners are likely to be much more important. Furthermore, the relative ease of development and the highly competitive nature of the marketplace make it necessary for timescales to be kept to a minimum.

All of this poses major challenges for evidence generation and DigitalHealth.London is engaged in the development of two important initiatives to address these.

DigitalHealth.London Evidence Generator

The Evidence & Research project:  In response to the challenges posed by the lack of clear guidance about the nature of evidence required to enable the assessment of digital apps, NHS England in conjunction with MedCity, National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE), Public Health England and DigitalHealth.London have established a working group tasked to develop guidance and standards to address and streamline support on this issue. The Evidence & Research project aims to make it easier for innovators and commissioners to understand what ‘good’ evidence for digital tools looks like, whilst meeting the needs of the NHS and patient.

To find out more, visit the DigitalHealth.London Evidence Generator.

The Evidence Generator: The absence of a clear pathway or entry point for digital health innovators needing to generate high quality evidence in real world settings has led DigitalHealth.London to support the establishment of the Evidence Generator. This is a pan London initiative established to support the evidence generation requirements of small and medium sized enterprises and other companies operating in the digital health arena. Sponsored by DigitalHealth.London, MedCity and the Health Innovation Network, it is working closely with the DHL Accelerator programme and has been designed specifically to promote engagement between the companies on the programme and academics and other researcher with appropriate skills and resources for digital health evidence generation in real world settings.