Market access sessions bridge gap between industry and the NHS

Kent Surrey Sussex Academic Health Science Network and South East Health Technologies Alliance organise 'innovation surgeries' to drive adoption of new medical devices

Market access advice sessions were held recently in an effort to improve the interface between industry and the NHS.

The ‘innovation surgeries’ are part of a joint initiative by Kent Surrey Sussex Academic Health Science Network (KSS AHSN) and South East Health Technologies Alliance (SEHTA) to enable patients to benefit more quickly from innovative products, treatments, and technologies.

Successful innovation is much more than simply technologies delivering desirable outcomes

KSS AHSN and SEHTA have together held a number of these events for companies with products on or near to market. The companies shared their offering confidentially in exchange for insight about how healthcare funding might impact on their plans to sell to the NHS.

Rob Berry, head of innovation at KSS AHSN; and Dr David Parry, SEHTA’s chief executive, offered companies based in or near to Kent, Surrey, and Sussex the chance to attend a free one-hour surgery session for an exploration of their value proposition and how to approach healthcare purchasers.

He said: “Many companies understandably believe that a product offering patient benefits should be of interest to the NHS. However, not having a thorough knowledge of how cash flows around the health and care system can significantly affect the likelihood of products being purchased. Furthermore, the current financial climate means that many technically capable technologies may now be unaffordable, even if there is a credible evidence base and early sales.

“Our role is to help proven innovation to spread wider and more quickly. Through exploration and challenge of their 'value proposition', we are able to help companies understand some critical issues to address in their approach to working with the NHS.

“Our review is intended to be thorough, particularly around the finances. We’re not afraid to be challenging because ultimately the potential benefit to the company is time and effort saved on approaches that may not succeed.

“Successful innovation is much more than simply technologies delivering desirable outcomes. Affordability – realisable savings in excess of the investment and achievable within existing NHS contract mechanisms - are just as important for widescale uptake.”

Dr Parry added: “From our feedback to date we are confident that the process was useful. We do see these as opportunities for a two-way discourse and both Rob and I were excited at the quality and quality of innovative solutions to our health and care challenges.

“We will continue to refine the process we are undertaking and are starting to make introductions to NHS experts. We will need to extend our range of contacts within the NHS to make this process add even greater value to both the companies and the NHS.”

Many companies understandably believe that a product offering patient benefits should be of interest to the NHS. However, not having a thorough knowledge of how cash flows around the health and care system can significantly affect the likelihood of products being purchased

The surgeries are aligned with the national Accelerated Access Review which seeks to address tensions between different aspects of the health and care system.

One recognised area of difficulty is the question of financing investment in innovation. The reality of a fixed one-year budget means that not only is there competition for healthcare resources, but the ability to invest now for future benefit, whether patient health or efficiencies, is constrained. Coupled with the findings of the recent report by IPPR Improved Circulation: unleashing innovation across the NHS, which highlights the problems of accessing information, it is little wonder that companies can find selling even proven technologies to the NHS an uphill struggle.

The next surgeries planned - for companies with products on or close to market – will be:

  • 12 October 2015 in Guildford - University of Surrey
  • 13 October 2015 in Crawley - KSS AHSN Offices
  • 15 October 2015 in Sandwich - Discovery Park

Companies