Collaborate and Thrive – how to improve NHS patient outcomes by delivering better medical technologies
The NHS continues to take great strides in making a significant contribution to improving the wellness of a population that (at the same time) continues to increase in size and complexity. This introduces challenges to both public and private sector organisations and systems to meet the patient needs and demands.
The challenges on the healthcare system can be addressed in a number of ways. This includes strategies that further improve on preventing disease, with a focus on bridging differences in health inequalities. Another key approach is the need to understand gaps and differences in the care, and quality of different patient populations.
A key strategy that could add to the armamentarium of healthcare professionals would be to utilise new technology that could facilitate improving health outcomes in the UK population in the form of earlier diagnosis, better health as we age, and improved recovery from illnesses and medical interventions.
Clinical technologies need to be developed and appropriately tested for their effectiveness in delivering on their given promise in a timely manner. The process of research and development (R&D) can be a long one. As a matter of fact the vast majority of R&D companies striving to develop new medical technologies are indeed Small to Medium sized companies.
Transitioning from concept, research programmes, and testing can be daunting and a challenge. This has been realised by the UK Government and there has been significant investment to support Research companies to deliver on new and exciting medical technology that can lead to better healthcare for all.
Representing Future Genetics, I attended the launch event of the Medical Devices Testing and Evaluation Centre (MD-TEC). It was chaired by the former UK Home Secretary for the Labour Government, Jacqui Smith, who is now the Chair of the University Hospitals Birmingham NHS Foundation Trust.
Pictured: The Right Honourable Jacqui Smith (Chair University Hospitals Birmingham NHS Foundation Trust) and Dr Mohammed Kamran (CEO, Future Genetics)
There is a need to have an infrastructure in place to accelerate and bring to market technologies. The function of this newly purpose-built MD-TEC site is to help expedite the transition of clinically innovative technologies from the research bench through to medical utility. This would facilitate streamlining delivery for the benefit of NHS patients and the wider UK population.
Many research organisations do not have the full gamut of resources to deliver on goals. Therefore, multi-disciplinary collaboration by Research companies with NHS sites and other research and specialist organisations such as MD-TEC is critical.
The MD-TEC site provides state-of-the art facilities for Research companies. During a tour of the facility I was able to see the “pre-patient” set-up that allowed for testing of novel medical technologies and devices. This included a functioning operating theatre, A&E, and ICU facility to test technologies and devices on highly sophisticated “dummies”. Thus any unnecessary human trials or studies can be avoided. In addition, this would also facilitate the design of even better downstream clinical studies.
A functioning surgical theatre with a responsive dummy to test the robustness of medical technologies before the start of any human studies (NHS patient outcomes).
Hospital bed with monitoring technologies to help validate novel medical devices and technologies (NHS patient outcomes)
The concerted effort by government bodies; organisations such as Innovate UK, SBRI, and the NIHR i4i; charities including Diabetes UK and the British Heart Foundation; different Academic Science Networks across the country (with the WMAHSN being the closest to me); and different NHS Trusts to support innovative research and inter-disciplinary collaboration can only be good for NHS patients and the wider UK population.