Authored article

Why we need a National Innovation Partnership

Dr Stuart Dollow explains why a National Innovation Partnership is crucial to ensuring the uptake of innovation across the NHS.

As an external champion to the Accelerated Access Review, I was pleased to see the positive response to our interim report and its 5 propositions, which we deliberately kept at a high level.

This was to allow us to continue to engage stakeholders in developing the specific details, and to engage them closely as participants who are invested and involved in the success of the review’s final recommendations.

The ongoing participation of a wide range of stakeholders is important to ensure they are able to successfully facilitate and accelerate the development and uptake of the most impactful innovative products.

This is particularly the case within the recommendation on ‘delivering change’. Here, we are proposing to set up a National Innovation Partnership that is constituted from the bodies responsible for regulation, development and adoption of innovation. We are discussing who else should be involved in this to best represent patient interests and the various needs of the NHS and innovators. Representative participants will work together to ensure facilitation of all stages of development through to patient uptake.

We felt it important to reinforce the benefits of partnership working between these bodies, to provide a clear path for innovators, based on establishing an early and ongoing dialogue.

Having access to such an aligned dialogue throughout the development process can provide valuable direction and feedback on development plans. This will maximise the chances of success for approval and uptake of these innovations, as well as minimising the time taken to achieve success. Importantly, this will also help innovators more rapidly recognise if their plans will not generate sufficient evidence for uptake, or if their innovations will not have the beneficial effects they hope for.

In this way, the bodies within the innovation partnership, and the proposed complementary local innovation exchanges, that have the ability to work on a more nimble and local basis through AHSNs on a diverse set of innovations, can work together with innovators to nurture, accelerate and direct the pathways of products that can deliver significant patient benefits.

Given the breadth of the potential remits of the innovation partnership and innovation exchanges, and the relationships they will build, I believe they are an essential foundation for the success of other recommendations in the interim report.

It is only through improved partnership and dialogue that we will be able to put the patient centre stage, get ahead of the curve and support innovators through the changes required to galvanise the NHS.

They provide powerful tools to break down the barriers to effective product development and uptake, and they can maximise the UK healthcare system’s research evaluation capability. Working as an integral part of the care the NHS provides, this can allow us to accelerate access to the best new products, while continuing to collect data to evaluate their real life clinical utility.

The National Innovation Partnership and the local innovation exchanges provide opportunities for fundamental changes in cooperation and communication. Innovators will understand how best to work with, and benefit from, increased alignment between bodies that play a regulatory or statutory role, or have a role related to uptake of innovation. The ability to conjointly guide innovators through the development pathway can accelerate the assessment and uptake of new products.

We are still discussing precisely how these partnerships will work and be governed, and will continue to adapt our plans based upon feedback from the relevant bodies and other stakeholders.

We are excited by the potential of the Accelerated Access Review, and look forward to receiving further feedback on the interim recommendations. You can submit your feedback via our engagement website.

There’s also an opportunity to join our Business Twitter hour for SMEs, hosted by @KTNUK_Health using #AARbusinesshour on 15 December from 1 to 2pm.

Published 4 December 2015