NICE has today published a five-year strategy with an increased focus on new treatments, technologies and innovations.
In the strategy the body highlights its four priority areas of focus; ‘rapid, robust, and responsive technology evaluation’, ‘dynamic, living guideline recommendations’, ‘effective guidance uptake to maximise impact’ and ‘leadership in data, research and science’.
The need to prioritise work to reduce health inequalities, to work seamlessly across boundaries, to reduce bureaucracy, and to speed up access to the latest and most effective treatments, is highlighted.
It acknowledges the move to integrated care systems and its role in supporting joined-up care around ‘people’s needs rather than around organisational silos’. The strategy states: “this change will impact not only how and what NICE is commissioned to do, but also how its guidance recommendations are funded, adopted and implemented.”
NICE also highlights the requirement to review and assess new innovations quicker, such as artificial intelligence, machine learning and robotics.
The strategy also states the need to adopt agile methodologies and processes: “internally, this strategy will be underpinned by a significant change programme that will enable us to concentrate the right resources and focus to deliver our ambitions at pace, while still maintaining our ongoing obligations.”
“We are seeing a rapid development of new technologies, a strong desire to respond to and evaluate these more quickly and a global push to consider their wider environmental impact. These innovations extend beyond drugs and medical devices – areas where NICE has traditionally focused – to include diagnostics, medical technologies, genomics, advanced therapy medicinal products (ATMPs) and digital health. We are also seeing the blurring of boundaries with more ‘hybrid’ products.”
The body notes in the strategy the challenge to address regulation, access and reimbursement models to support access into the system. It notes: “we will need to speed up our evaluation pathway and develop cutting-edge methods for emerging technologies that also consider their wider environmental and societal impact. We will need to be more proactive and engage much earlier in the innovation pipeline, working collaboratively with partners to ensure rapid access and develop methods and processes that are agile, fluid and flexible to accommodate new and hybrid products.”
Professor Gillian Leng CBE, Chief Executive, NICE, commented “The new strategy sets out a vision for the future where NICE will be more dynamic, work more collaboratively, and continue to build on the excellent foundations of the last 22 years.
“Our work to produce rapid COVID-19 guidelines during the pandemic has hastened our desire for change. We demonstrated that we can be flexible and fleet of foot, without losing the rigour of our work, and we will now look to embed that approach in our day-to-day work.
“The world around us is changing. New treatments and technologies are emerging at a rapid pace, with real-world data driving a revolution in evidence. We will help busy healthcare professionals to navigate these new changes and ensure patients have access to the best care and latest treatments.”
Sharmila Nebhrajani OBE, chairman, NICE added: “The healthcare of the future will look radically different from today – new therapies will combine pills with technologies, genomic medicine will make early disease detection a reality and AI and machine learning will bring digital health in disease prevention and self care to the fore.
“Our new strategy will help us respond to these advances, finding new and more flexible ways to evaluate products and therapies for use in the NHS, ensuring that the most innovative and clinically effective treatments are available to patients at a price the taxpayer can afford.
“NICE also plays a crucial role in sustaining the UK’s position as a life sciences superpower. Our work with researchers in universities and in companies helps them to translate vital medical research insights into new products and treatment guidelines for patients, and our strategy will help to ensure that these continue to be supported by the strongest possible evidence base.”