In this #EvaluateDigiHealth webinar, commissioners and clinicians from within the NHS and social care system discussed their experience and understanding of evidence generated by digital health companies.
Evidence can mean different things to different sectors, and alignment is key in ensuring SMEs focus on generating relevant evidence and commissioner are empowered and comfortable enough to challenge evidence.
Find out more about the series and sign up for upcoming webinars here.
Katya Masconi-Yule, Programme Manager, DigitalHealth.London Accelerator
Brett Hatfield, NHS Navigator, DigitalHealth.London Accelerator
Rishi Das-Gupta, CEO, Health Innovation Network
Viccie Nelson, Senior Transformation Manager, SWL health and care partnership
Robert Sweeney, COO at Greenwich Health
Ben Wanless, Consultant MSK Physiotherapist, St George’s University Hospital NHS Foundation Trust
We’ve summarised the panel’s key tips for SMEs when explaining / presenting evidence to commissioners:
- Use plain English.
All panellists agreed on the importance of using simple language when presenting evidence to ensure it is useful for all staff to understand and interpret. Viccie highlighted that there will be a wide range of people participating in procurement and specifically in care homes individuals have very different levels of literacy and understanding of technical issues. Ben also suggested delivering a demonstration of the application to help commissioners understand it fully.
2. Be clear on the implementation plan.
It is important to be clear on how you will implement, showing evidence on how you have done this before.
Robert shared that they had recently hosted an event looking for a digital health partner and the company that stood out had a clear, hands-on demonstration and were very clear on how the implementation would work. Time is short for NHS staff, so it is also important to highlight what support is given to the organisation for implementation.
Rishi shared that in his experience evidence shared by SMEs generally always matched with the reality of a product or service. However, he highlighted that implementation on the ground can change how a product/service works, so it might take longer to get the benefits. He shared an example of a new system which was implemented in a hospital he worked in which did improve efficiency, but they had underestimated the amount of time it would take to implement and get benefit. This contrasted to the evidence provided to start with which given gave an impression of overnight change.
3. Target pain points and address potential implementation challenges.
The panel agreed that evidence should be targeted to the relevant pain points of the organisation and identified the importance of SMEs demonstrating that they have considered specific implementation challenges and how they will help overcome them.
Viccie felt it should be clear that SMEs had done their homework on whether their product/service really meets the clinical issues of an organisation, as well as understanding the potential challenges which could be involved in implementation and how these could be overcome. As an example, she explained that Information Governance can be an issue in care homes as they require a very high IG standard. It is therefore important that companies fully understand and prepare for this.
4. Be open about interoperability requirements to support evidence generation.
Ben shared that every product/service he had procured to date had only had the basic essential evidence. For example, DigitalHealth.London Accelerator company, GetUbetter, had all the basic requirements but they also provided a clear roadmap for implementation process.
Robert also shared an example of a digital health company his organisation partnered with on smoking cessation (DigtalHealth.London Accelerator alumnus Smoke Free). This organisation was at the more mature end of spectrum and had lots of data. They promised a lot in terms of implementation and results, and they delivered all they said they would. In contrast, Robert worked with another company at the start of a pandemic to deliver a hot site for use of virtual consultation within the same building. Robert and his team had to do a lot of problem-solving during implementation themselves, and what they were promised didn’t match what was received.
5. Share case studies, testimonials and references.
Rishi flagged that one of the best tests for a product is whether it has worked elsewhere. This is evidenced through case studies and testimonials. He flagged that informal networks will often be used by commissioners to check up in case studies so openness and honesty is important.
Another tip was to share references for commissioners to get feedback on implementation, effectiveness and efficiency from the system. Rob shared that it can very close between two products/services and it is therefore helpful to be given a contact with whom a company has worked with before.
6. Evidence should show which populations you have worked with, and how you will incorporate any different populations in the new setting.
Ben flagged that if a solution has been implemented locally by neighbouring commissioners this can be valuable evidence. The company would however need to complete qualitative work to illustrate how the populations are the same and how they are different, and therefore what they are going to do differently.
When is to comes to implementation and evidence from outside of the UK, Viccie flagged that commissioners want to see that a company has done their homework on the difference in the populations, perceiving the different challenges and alternative solutions.
Similarly, Rob explained that when moving between different healthcare sectors (e.g. secondary to primary) the transfer of evidence has to been translated and related to the different setting, taking into account the differing pain points.
7. Show evidence of impact on vulnerable groups.
Rob highlighted the importance of keeping the impact of a product/service on vulnerable groups at the forefront of evidence generation, making sure a product/service is accessible and showing evidence of where this has been accomplished elsewhere.
Rishi explained that if this evidence is not available, then a company can also show the impact that the product/service can have in general, which could include creating capacity for others in the system (including vulnerable people) to access current care. He felt that the most compelling companies have a real understanding of protected characteristics and digital exclusion.