By Joop Tanis (Director, MedTech Consulting) and Alice Greenhalgh (Innovation Manager)
Health Enterprise East
As the great, the good, the large and the small of the health and medtech industry descended upon Manchester last week for the annual NHS Health Innovation Expo, we thoroughly enjoyed finding out about the staggering array of cutting-edge medtech solutions that are being developed. The scope of the new technologies on show is both breath-taking and hugely inspiring, with innovations ranging from AI to wearables and digital tech, and tackling problems spanning mental health, asthma, heart disease and epilepsy.
At the same time, the conference also provided a stark reminder of the challenges of delivering innovation. The reality remains that creative innovation is not enough in isolation. It needs funding – yes of course – but even more fundamentally, it needs a rigorously thought-out clinical, patient and adoption pathway. The NHS is alive to these problems, however, and steps are being taken to try to overcome some of these shortcomings.
It was good to see a willingness on day one of the conference to grapple with thornier, big picture challenges, including an AHSN report on the need to broaden diversity in order to maximise innovation within the NHS, and a session on the role of medtech in delivering a truly personalised healthcare experience.
Creating a robust overarching framework while nurturing innovation on the ground is a difficult balance to achieve, but it’s at events like these that workable solutions can begin to emerge. A few examples of what we experienced at Expo: it was great to hear about the AHSN Network’s NHS Innovator Accelerator (NIA) and to learn how the supported innovations are impacting upon the NHS and wider healthcare system. There was a broad range of innovations presented at the Expo by the NIA fellows. It was inspiring to hear from NIA fellow, Liz Ashall-Payne, about how the programme has helped her venture ORCHA to grow into a world leader in health app evaluation.
The Expo was a jam-packed event filled with exciting news and announcements. During his keynote address Simon Stevens, Chief Executive of NHS England and NHS Improvement, announced the availability of a novel gene therapy on the NHS. This new treatment will help babies born with inherited retinal dystrophies disorder who would otherwise, without this new treatment, most likely lose their sight during early childhood.
Follow HEE’s very own @JoopTanis and @alicegreenhalgh, for all the latest on healthcare innovation.