National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE)
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NICE boosts support for innovative ideas

NICE's support for hospitals wanting to adopt innovative new technologies has been given a boost as it takes on the work of the NHS Technology Adoption Centre (NTAC) in May.

With funding from NHS England, the new Health Technologies Adoption Programme (HTAP) at NICE will provide a more systematic approach to the adoption by the NHS of new technologies such as diagnostic and monitoring devices, surgical implants and other technologies that improve the care given to patients.

Despite the often considerable potential of these new technologies to improve patient health and increase NHS productivity, there is concern that the benefits are not made available to patients quickly enough. The government's Innovation Health and Wealth report in 2011 recommended the transfer of the NHS Technology Adoption Centre to NICE in an effort to improve uptake.

NICE's new programme will work in a similar way to NTAC, engaging with front-line clinicians, managers and procurement specialists in hospitals, clinical commissioning groups and community services to enable them to better understand and overcome the barriers to adoption.

The team of five have already been working closely with NICE's Medical Technologies Programme, supporting the implementation of products that have been evaluated by NICE. By moving into the organisation and working alongside NICE's implementation group, there will be a more seamless integration of NICE guidance and practical support and information at a local NHS level. HTAP will also support the work of Academic Health Science Networks, a new tier of organisations created to improve the identification, adoption and spread of innovation in the NHS.

NTAC's Chief Executive Sally Chisholm will lead the HTAP programme. She said “NTAC's work over the past six years has provided an extremely close fit with NICE and so we're delighted to be ‘closing the loop' by transferring across into the Institute. We're going to be able to provide a much more seamless and effective route to implementing new technologies in the NHS as a result.

“Government and the health charities spend over £2 billion a year on research, which has produced many new and improved ways of delivering healthcare. However, the NHS often lags behind other countries in terms of implementation.

"Hospitals often try and fail to introduce new technologies - and it is sometimes very difficult to understand the reasons. Understanding and being able to negotiate through the technology adoption process is vital, and it is exactly this support that we will be providing doctors and managers in the NHS.”

An important part of the Health Technology Adoption Programme's work will be the support it will provide to suppliers in the medtech and diagnostic industry to navigate around the complexities of the NHS. Sally's team will be working with NICE's already-established scientific advice programme to provide consultancy and advice to manufacturers whose devices and innovative technologies have already demonstrated clear benefits to patients and have real potential to improve NHS efficiency.

“There will be greater continuity for those external organisations, especially industry, that have been used to working with NTAC and NICE,” added Mrs Chisholm.

“We hope it will demonstrate NICE's ability to act as a facilitator, rather than a barrier, to the adoption of new technologies in the NHS," she said.

HTAP's products will be in the form of adoption projects, where they will work with a small number of front-line NHS organisations to take a technology and sustainably bring it into routine use in clinical care. This will be written up into a guide detailing what the team did, which may be data collection, procurement of kit, pathway redesign, staff training or business case development. This will be done in parallel with NICE's guidance development, and will be published at the same time.