The Health Tech Alliance Secretariat attended Reform’s Health Conference last Thursday (9th March) featuring a keynote speech from Health Secretary the Rt Hon Jeremy Hunt MP.
With the Budget the day before outlining further support and investment in game-changing technologies such as AI and robotics and setting a path to position the UK as a world-leader in the sector post-Brexit, Hunt’s speech, surprisingly, did not mention the role of health technologies in patient care, choosing instead to focus exclusively on the issue of patient safety.
Health technologies undoubtedly have a role to play in patient safety and patient care. Indeed, the Government-commissioned Accelerated Access Review, published in October 2016 and led by the Office for Life Sciences, outlined several recommendations to support the adoption of innovative health technologies.
If taken forward, the recommendations outlined by the Accelerated Access Review have the potential to change the market access landscape within which health technologies operate. These include the creation of an Accelerated Access Pathway for “strategically important, transformative products” to bring them to patients more quickly, a single set of clear national and local routes to get such technologies to patients and for national routes to market to be streamlined and clarified.
The Government, however, is yet to formally respond to the Review or set out the exact recommendations it will take forward.
This is despite a realisation from the recent Digital Strategy of the potential that sectors such as HealthTech hold for the future. In fact, the paper believes that emerging sectors such as HealthTech, where the UK already has a lead, should generate as much as £200 billion to the country’s economy by 2025.
Health technologies undoubtedly have an important role to play in the NHS – both now and in the future. As the country faces Brexit, the Government must formally respond to the Accelerated Access Review and set out a much clearer path for health technologies to reach the patients that need them and help transform patient care.