The SBRI Health Technology Competition UK:
A previous article published here on Salus Digital recently, discussed plans for restructuring the NHS according to Healthcare UK, a tripartite merger between the NHS, the UK Department of Health (DoH) and UK Trade and Investments (UKTI). Their major focus was that of developing digital solutions that increased patient empowerment and returned “control” back over to patients.
Patient empowerment is at its most effective if appropriated for the benefits of the most vulnerable members of the patient population. When two highly complicated healthcare areas coincide, such as the management of chronic illness alongside the treatment of illnesses in children, this is then as vulnerable as it can get.
Helping young people to feel a sense of control during any chronic illness is a very important aim and has been one of the design goals for this year’s Small Business Research Initiative’s (SBRI) competition. The SBRI have funded projects to the tune of £270M since 2009 alongside the UK government’s innovation agency, “Innovate UK”. According to the 2016/17 Innovate UK’s delivery plan, some 20% of funding is to go to solving solutions that tackle current healthcare problems.
The importance of the empowerment of patients, especially in regard to children, is shared by Philippa Hedley-Takhar, the head of investment & partnerships for one of the 15 AHSN groups who are associated with the SBRI funded competition. She said:
“We know that disability in children can have a permanent effect on their life skills in adulthood. With 6% of children in the UK living with disability, there is a high need for innovations that address their health and care needs, so they can live life to the full.”
The Academic Health Science Network (AHSN) groups, described “as the only bodies that connect NHS and academic organizations, local authorities, the third sector and industry” are spread out across England, having been established by NHS England in 2013.
Their aims are to distribute innovations across demarcated regions of England in order to provide a rudimentary value-based offering improving health whilst saving or generating funds in the process.
A previous innovation which made the cut in a similar competition, was conceived in 2010, owned by the NHS, created in Stoke-on-Trent’s CCG (Clinical Commissioning Group) and is called “FLO”, short for “Florence”.
FLO is an example of a simple telehealth technology which uses SMS text messages on mobile phones to communicate with patients and demonstrates that sometimes the simplest ideas can be among the most effective. FLO:
“actively supports the model of patient self-care management and compliance, while also delivering productivity gains for services, enabling larger caseloads to be managed within existing resources.”
Its reach has spanned over 70 health & social care organizations and 33,000 registered patients. Through behavior modification techniques, the AHSN states that FLO maintains compliance so much so that healthcare practitioners have noticed spending much less time during consultations.
The second choice for innovators to focus on for the SBRI competition, as recommended by the collective AHSNs is that of acute care, which is said to make up about 50% of NHS spending.
Here, innovators might focus on patient flow through the acute care system in terms of admissions, resource utilization and discharge processes. Workflow processes are a very important aspect of healthcare spending that would benefit greatly from innovative ways to reduce waste and improve patient follow-up and acute care settings are rife for wastage, so that tools that enable higher efficiencies would be of great value in this area.
This latest competition, which is open to already established healthcare technology developers in the UK has a 28th July deadline for submissions.