Raj Purewal, business development and partnerships director at TRUSTECH (www.trustech.org.uk, @TRUSTECH_NHS), the NHS innovation experts, has advised many healthcare organisations over the years on how to select the best innovations. Here Raj shares his insight and advice to steer you on the right path to find the right innovations.
Innovations can have a significant impact on improving health and care services. Better ways of working make a difference to patient outcomes, generate real financial benefits in the long term, and change the future of health and care across the country.
One of the challenges that healthcare leaders face is how to choose the right innovations for their organisations. New innovations are unveiled on a daily basis and understanding how to select the best ones, the innovations that will have a positive impact on the health and wellbeing of the population your organisation serves, is a complex task.
Here’s my advice to steer you on the right path to find the right innovations.
Collaboration is key. Establish relationships between the NHS and the commercial world at an early stage to assist with the selection, evaluation and potential adoption process. The benefit of this is that it brings people together from different working areas, and by sharing knowledge and experience, provides an opportunity to look at things efficiently and differently.
TRUSTECH are the NHS Innovation Experts, and we have strong networks that enable NHS organisations to collaborate effectively and efficiently with the commercial sector, relationships that otherwise may prove difficult to establish. We help qualify, develop and test new innovations and provide peerless advice on how they can be adapted or adopted for use in the NHS.
- Identify needs
The best ideas meet an unmet clinical need or help improve patient care, so think carefully about the innovation and whether it fills an existing gap in your organisation. Does it addresses an unmet clinical need?
Try to identify the size of the problem that the innovation addresses, such as the number of patients affected or the total cost-saving over the existing solution. Also think about whether other organisations have the same issue, or whether it is unique to your area. As part of this thought process, involving clinicians will help you establish a full understanding of the scale of the needs.
- Clinical evidence
Evaluate the clinical evidence of an innovation and ensure you fully understand how it can make a positive difference to existing treatment pathways.
It is possible that at this stage, the innovations identified have little or no clinical evidence. If this is the case, be mindful of the difficulties that SMEs are faced with in collating real-world clinical evidence; it can be a huge challenge. Perhaps instead consider the merits of undertaking a small-scale desk top evaluation in your organisation to determine if the innovation in question demonstrates the potential to significantly improve patient outcomes or cost-effectiveness.
- The wider picture
Remember to look beyond the innovation itself and consider the wider area. For instance, it may be that an innovation costs more on a per-unit basis than current products, however if it reduces a patient’s length of hospital stay, it could generate an overall cost saving. Initial costs are certainly a key consideration and it is therefore important to be mindful of the long-term implications as well as the short-term view.
Consider the overall value proposition. It is useful to identify the scale of the problem that the innovation addresses and what the cost is to the NHS of doing nothing.
Finally, think about how the proposed innovation offers an advantage over currently approved or existing solutions, the cost of the innovation, how it will be funded and of course what savings and benefits are expected.