Innovation, News

NICE and the AHSN Network announce new healthcare innovation collaboration

NICE – the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence – and the Academic Health Science Network (AHSN) have revealed plans for a new collaboration. The two organisations are set to work together on embedding innovations into the healthcare system, for the benefit of patients.

By combining their strengths, skills, and resources, across the length of a two-year agreement, the duo hope to help the NHS to adopt evidence-based innovations that can improve lives.

There are currently 15 regional AHSNs, which together make up the national AHSN Network, which was established in 2013 with a ‘core mission’ to “accelerate the uptake of well-evidenced innovation in the NHS in England.”

With a shared purpose of “identifying and accelerating the uptake” of healthcare innovations to “improve quality, safety, outcomes and experience, as well as the effective use of resources,” both organisations also have an underpinning aim to improve healthcare globally, as well as in the UK, and to enhance the UK’s reputation as a leader in this area.

Professor Gary Ford, Chair of the AHSN Network, Chief Executive of Oxford AHSN and Non-Executive Director for NICE, said of the news: “This agreement builds on the successes of our past collaborative working and will help us further our work to ensure patients have access to the latest evidence-based technologies, advice and guidance.

“NICE and the Network share a common goal to accelerate the rate of adoption and spread of evidence-based practice and innovation within the NHS, and by working together we can use our combined expertise and experience to improve health at pace and scale.”

Having previously worked together on accelerating the “rate of adoption and spread of evidence-based practice and innovation in the NHS”, the organisations have now formalised their collaboration and outlined priority areas of work, such as addressing market challenges for digital innovation, shaping and generating real-world evidence, and supporting innovators.

Teams from NICE and the AHSN Network will also meet regularly throughout the year to develop a programme of work.

Professor Gillian Leng, NICE Chief Executive, said:“By working together more closely we can increase the speed at which innovative new medicines and technologies recommended by NICE can be cascaded through the healthcare system. Our work with the AHSN Network will also ensure we are helping to produce the vital real-world evidence needed to guide the development of NICE recommendations.

“One of the key priorities of our new five-year strategy is to increase the uptake and use of NICE recommendations across the healthcare system to maximise the impact of our work and ensure everyone has access to the latest innovations. We can best achieve this by working strategically with our key partners such as the AHSN Network, and we’re delighted to announce this new collaboration between our organisations.”

Richard Stubbs, Vice Chair of the AHSN Network and Chief Executive of Yorkshire and Humber AHSN, also commented: “As a Network our aim is to transform lives through innovation. The role NICE plays in evidence generation and health and care excellence makes them an ideal partner for us to collaborate and work more closely with to support the spread and adoption of innovative solutions that meet the needs of patients and the health and care system.”

HTN recently spoke to Richard from Yorkshire and Humber AHSN, to find out more about his roles as a Chief Exec and Vice Chair, as well as his hopes for the future of health tech in the UK – including his thoughts on collaboration, a dual local and global focus, how sharing learnings and innovation can benefit everyone, and the need for greater diversity in the innovation workforce.

He told us: “I want to help local jobs by helping our local SMEs to export to new territories. Likewise, I want to help my local patients by bringing in the best innovations from elsewhere and getting them embedded in Barnsley, in Leeds and in Skipton.

“Bringing the NHS together with industry and academia…to have one single conservation. But equally knit together local businesses with international governance and other types of export opportunities – it’s all about doing some knitting.”

While NICE has also been in the news lately, after sharing its new five-year strategy on data, technologies and innovations, which includes a focus on prioritising work to reduce health inequalities, and working across boundaries to reduce bureaucracy and to speed up access to the latest and most effective treatments.