Infrastructure > Devices

NHS England chief reiterates integrated care and innovation needs

Neil Merrett Published 21 June 2016

Simon Stevens says more work is needed to link care systems; new funding route to be offered to streamline adoption of innovative technology like devices and apps

 

NHS England chief executive Simon Stevens has reiterated the importance of properly managing and funding integrated social care as well as streamlining the process of adopting innovative medical technologies among efforts to address budget pressures across the health service.

While discussing the ongoing funding challenges without the closer integration of health and social care up to 2020 outlined in NHS England's 'Five Year Forward View' plan, Stevens used the NHS Confederation Conference 2016 to discuss a number of key initiatives around technology and efficiency.

During his keynote speech, the NHS England chief announced a programme intended to speed up the process of bringing new technologies such as mobile heart monitors and specialised apps to aid self care for conditions like Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disorder (COPD) via mobile devices.

He pointed to the establishment of new funding to reduce the red tape faced by clinicians and other stakeholders over adopting and encouraging wider take up of devices and apps capable of better understanding and treating issues such as weight management and infertility. It is also anticipated to support dealing with mental health issues.

NHS England expects to provide national reimbursement for NHS organisations making use of innovative technologies that may potentially help better manage chronic health conditions.

"This new funding route will help cut the hassle experienced by clinicians and innovators in getting uptake and spread across the NHS," NHS England announced.

"This is because a new Innovation and Technology tariff category will remove the need for multiple local price negotiations, and instead guarantee automatic reimbursement when an approved innovation is used, while at the same time allowing NHS England to negotiate national 'bulk buy' price discounts on behalf of hospitals, GPs and patients."

Stevens also announced during the event an additional recruitment round for the NHS Innovation Accelerator (NIA) programme that is intended to aid developers of "tried-and-tested" technologies with ensuring wider adoption of their products across the health service.

"The NHS has a proud track record of world firsts in medical innovation - think hip replacements, IVF, vaccinations and organ transplants to name just a few," he said. "But then getting wide uptake has often been slow and frustrating. Now - at a time when the NHS is under pressure - rather than just running harder to stand still, it's time to grab with both hands these practical new treatments and technologies."

Stevens vowed to step up 'front end' NHS 111 telehealth and other GP out of hours services over the current financial year as part of efforts to overhaul the delivery of more integrated support that can incorporate social care functions.

He spoke in particular of a need for more "clinical intensity of engagement" for out of hours services, as well as overhauling internal hospital processes and how health authorities are interacting with social care providers.

Stevens also referred to the Five Year Forward View's conclusions that he said estimated that between £8bn and £21bn would be required to support efforts for more efficient health and social care.

Ahead of securing a majority government during last year's general election, the Conservatives committed to an £8bn NHS funding pledge above inflation to try and realise the aims of the forward view to encourage data sharing and service interoperability.

However, in the event of the lower end of this £8bn range being provided by the government up to 2020, enhanced effort around more preventative treatment would be needed, specifically with linking social care and health delivery.

Stevens argued that in looking at current challenges, assuming further funding would be made available by authorities should not be assumed, particularly owing to the "strong argument" that money should be going to support social care.

"That is one of the arguments that I have been making publicly, and I think social care has a very strong case for that," he said.
Stevens added that uncertainty around the upcoming referendum vote later this week that will define whether Britain remains part of the EU further compounded long-term funding efforts.

Neha Ralhan, a senior analyst specialising in healthcare for Kable, said that Stevens' comments reiterated wider NHS commitments set out in the Five Year Forward View.

"The view is best to be thought as an overarching blue print, with the soon to be released Sustainability and Transformation Plans (STPs) providing finer details and more strategic direction about core deliverables to come from the NHS," she said.

"With a focus on linking primary and secondary care as well as bring community and mental health into the fold a fuller, an integrated NHS - if such a plan is to succeed - will be delivered though technology. "

Related articles:

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Tory manifesto targets health and social care integration

Dual approach key to NHS England five-year IT reforms







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