Digital health: clearing a path for adoption

Julie Pelta, Senior Consultant at DataArt’s Healthcare and Life Sciences Practice, looks at the challenges around the adoption of digital health solutions. She offers advice on how to navigate difficulties around reimbursement and to help align the agile digital culture with a bureaucratic NHS system.

“The NHS Innovation Accelerator (NIA) provides a reimbursement route for digital health solutions that focus on any of the three key challenges, based on population health needs: prevention, early intervention and long-term condition management. However, I am convinced that proving value to the NHS is only viable for the long-term condition management category. 

One reason for this is simple maths; the management of long-term conditions (mostly for an aging population) is a disproportionally large drain on NHS funds and a prominent pain point for a large market segment. Any cost-optimisation for this greatest expense category is likely to have the most impact on the overall cost and yield a convincing business case. Another reason is a budget system where commissioners are responsible for allocating budgets on annual bases. ...For these reasons, the route to commercialisation of digital health solutions is in the area of long- term condition management and through providing evidence that the solution is saving time, saving money and improving outcomes within a timescale of one-two years.

…Like any government system, the NHS is highly hierarchical and formalised with a wide range of stakeholders, users and service suppliers – doctors, commissioners, practice managers, nursing staff, patients and payers (including insurance companies). Creating digital solutions that will become part of the overall NHS system means investing the time – early in the process – to develop an accurate stakeholder map and uncover every single stakeholder.”

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