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The Health Tech Alliance attended he Reform Health conference, which this year focused on ‘Unlocking the promise of digital health’. Opening the session, NHS Chief Executive Simon Stevens announced that funding for 10 new tests and treatments as part of the Innovation and Technology Payment (ITP) programme will be extended.

Innovations being supported, include Health Tech Alliance member Heartflow:

  • Placental growth factor (PIGF) based test – A blood test to help rule out pre-eclampsia in women suspected to have the condition.
  • High sensitivity troponin test – A blood test that when combined with clinical judgement can help rapidly rule-out heart attacks.
  • Gammacore – A hand-held device that delivers mild electrical stimulation to the vagus nerve to block the pain signals that cause cluster headaches.
  • SpaceOAR – A hydrogel injected prior to radiotherapy so that the radiation dose to the rectum can be minimised, reducing complications like rectal pain, bleeding and diarrhoea.
  • HeartFlow – Advanced image analysis software that creates a 3D model of the coronary arteries and analyses the impact that blockages have on blood flow to rapidly diagnose patients with suspected coronary artery disease.

Lord Darzi, Chair of the Accelerated Access Collaborative has confirmed that AHSNs will take direct responsibility for accelerating uptake locally.

Stevens also announced a global call for evidence round the application and reimbursement of artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning. Stevens opening remarks focused heavily on AI, which he described as being on the cusp of being a big part of our future in healthcare, and we expect further details of this call for evidence to follow.

While the role of AI was key, even more focal to the event was role of patients. Speakers were keen to note the importance of patient research to avoid falling into a “tech-first” approach, and the need for a fully integrated system to meet patients needs was also discussed. Others were also keen to point out that while the healthtech sector is making great progress, many of the best innovations are clinician and patient-held – therefore stressing the need for innovators to work carefully with clinicians and patients at every stage of development and uptake.