Health innovation manifesto

Making the most of what we have: using innovations in science and technology to create a more effective and efficient NHS.

Despite being a world leader in science and technology, the UK is not as effective it should be at translating its huge investment in research into improving health and wealth. At the PHG Foundation, we believe that harnessing innovative technologies will not only create wealth that can help fund the NHS of the future, but also be part of the solution to ameliorating an impending healthcare crisis.

Harnessing innovative technologies in the healthcare system

We think that the NHS could use the scientific and technological knowledge we already have much more effectively. We believe that a more efficient NHS is possible by using genomics and digital health technologies to create individually tailored treatment and disease prevention, and to empower citizens to have more personal control of their health and healthcare.

We are calling for future governments to invest not just in research, but also in providing the leadership, motivation and infrastructure to put more of the fruits of scientific research within the reach of the citizen through modernised and more personalised healthcare.

Information

Big data: harnessing scientific, clinical, personal and other relevant data to improve healthcare

The new government should

  • Champion the use of personal data for the public good, subject to appropriate safeguards, and encourage transparency about data sharing and use so that professionals and public understand the potential benefits, risks and uncertainties
  • Mandate the development of NHS systems for comprehensive data collection, curation and access for clinical purposes, including a national genomic database
  • Provide incentives for data sharing within the NHS, and put in place proportionate and responsible safeguards e.g. data access agreements, sanctions for breaches and data safe havens

As a society, we generate vast amounts of data, with the boundaries between ‘health’ and other types of data becoming increasingly blurred – our supermarket till receipts and mobile phone records may give away more about our lifestyle habits than we dare to admit to our GP. Effective healthcare provision must include creating, maintaining and learning how to use dynamic ‘real-time’ databases of patients that include genetic information, information about disease experience, treatment and natural history as part of everyday clinical practice, as well as to drive ongoing health research.

Infrastructure

Strategies and frameworks for making the NHS innovation-ready

The new government should

  • Put in place enabling measures for our health system to evaluate innovations in actual clinical practice quickly, and ensure the most effective are implemented widely across health services, not just in centres of excellence
  • Provide incentives to encourage the widespread integration of genomics and digital health technologies into mainstream medicine, including prioritisation of genomics education for the healthcare workforce across every clinical specialty
  • Provide patients with the knowledge and opportunity to make meaningful decisions about their healthcare

Our healthcare system needs to keep people healthy for as long as possible, and deliver rapid and effective diagnosis and treatment when they do become ill. The imperative is to improve patient outcomes and experience, minimise expensive healthcare interventions, and reduce dependencies on families and care services. Increasingly, biomarkers, sensors and smart technologies can help us do this, but unless the healthcare infrastructure adapts to such innovations, the NHS will fail to capitalise on the advantages that they could bring to the health and wealth of the nation.

Individuals

Personalised medicine: putting individuals at the centre of their healthcare, giving people a role in decisions and enabling access to health technology

The new government should

  • Move towards a paradigm of personalised disease prevention to complement existing population-based approaches, building an NHS that supports people to make informed choices about the care that suits them
  • Educate the public on the impact of genomic medicine on their health choices and engage them in rational debate about the future organisation of health systems
  • Enable individuals to access new innovations in digital health

    Whereas previously a 'one size fits all' approach to healthcare planning was the norm, we must now build health systems and national health policies that recognise individual diversity. This includes determining individual disease risk, offering precise diagnoses and tailored treatments made possible by genomic and biomedical innovations. Social, technological and cultural changes are simultaneously driving greater individual autonomy and choice; availability of innovative digital health and other technologies will be integral to shifting the power balance towards the individual.