Innovation in the healthcare sector

The challenges currently facing the NHS are well known – rising demand, ageing society, rising public expectations, together with a tightening of budgets.  In order to address these challenges we will need innovation – new ideas, new technology, new ways of doing things.

This week at 2020health we held a roundtable discussion on Innovation, with Earl Howe, the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Quality. Several points came out of this discussion:

  • We need to make the most of the wide range and high quality of skills we have in the NHS
  • Innovative products and new ways of working are needed to address the high demand
  • Equally important is the spread of new ideas – many innovations are already available but are not yet being used across the NHS – we hope that the NHS Expo can help with the spread of innovations
  • The future role of the Department of Health will shift from driving from the centre, towards removing excessive regulation and creating an environment empowering innovation
  • Changing the culture is very important – people need to feel responsible for innovation and able to realise the benefits of changes they make
  • Need to free up capacity of clinicians to innovate

We hope that the changes currently being made throughout the NHS will help to foster this “culture of innovation”.  There is a worry that while the changes take place there will be too much upheaval for staff to have time to focus on innovation.  However, by creating more accountability and autonomy at a local level, and by freeing up opportunities for NHS providers to provide additional services privately we hope that a spirit of entrepreneurialism may begin to flourish.

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