Working in partnership to harness the potential of digital technology

Nicola Bent talks about NICE and the AHSN Network’s important ambition to address market access challenges for digital innovation as part of the collaboration agreement

Following the announcement last year of a two-year collaboration agreement between NICE and the AHSN Network, I wanted to consider the alignment between the two organisations and specific ways this agreement looks to further strengthen the use of the best evidence-based healthcare in the NHS.

NICE and the AHSN Network share the common purpose of identifying and accelerating the uptake of well-evidenced innovations into health and care services to improve quality, safety, outcomes and experience, and the effective use of resources.

NICE is well known for robust technology evaluation and excellent clinical guidelines. The AHSN Network specialises in the spread and adoption of health and care innovation. Together we can make sure the very best evidence-based innovations reach those working in health and care and patients as fast as possible.

This partnership is more important than ever as the system continues to deal with pressures caused by the coronavirus pandemic. As detailed in NICE’s new five-year strategy, NICE will  be at the forefront of anticipating and rapidly evaluating new and existing technologies – an ambition that is particularly important in terms of supporting the current pressures and an enhanced appetite from the system to try new approaches.

The AHSN Network played a pivotal role in supporting health and care partners in the early stages of the pandemic, working with partners to develop and deploy digital products within days, rather than the multi-year timelines projected before the pandemic. Research conducted by the Network in 2020 showed how technology was an enabler in reducing the care burden during the pandemic and helped to identify what innovations should be sustained for the long term as the ‘new normal’ continues to emerge. Learnings from this work include recommendations for more dedicated support to drive health-tech innovation into the NHS.

Both organisations recognise the potential benefits that digital health technologies can bring to the NHS and the specific challenges that these products face accessing the market.

A key element of this agreement is working more closely together to address market access challenges for digital innovations, navigating and breaking down the barriers to adoption and spread of innovation, which we hope will support the system during the pandemic and beyond.

I look forward to sharing more details of this work in the future.

Nicola Bent, the AHSN Network

AHSN Network & NICE logos

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