The challenges facing the NHS cannot be adequately addressed through incremental change; it’s time to do different things, rather than just doing things differently, writes Accenture Health UK director Simon England.
Upward cost pressure on the NHS is huge, while year-on-year funding remains more or less flat in real terms. A second challenge is to maintain and improve care despite this pressure. Then there are workforce challenges: job losses, restructuring and changes to pensions, which have caused morale to drop.
Innovation will require bold leadership to drive changes in two main areas: how the NHS uses technology and how the NHS engages with partners.
Technology procurement should be led by clinical needs, rather than being an expression of technical requirements. The NHS should look for low hanging fruit, such as technologies being used successfully in other industries.
Other low hanging fruit is technology’s ability to improve patient care, for example by matching demand for medical imaging diagnostic expertise with supply - wherever in the UK it may be - or using mobile devices to better interact with patients and gather data remotely.
The UK needs the best of both public and private sectors to address the challenges. Without this collaboration, our public healthcare system is in serious trouble.
Commercial arrangements are one potential area of collaborative innovation. Risk and rewards could be more sensibly shared than they sometimes are in traditional contracts. Solution providers should be held to their promises and paid based on what they deliver.
Innovation and digitisation are levers the NHS needs to pull in order to reduce costs and address patient care issues. They need to be pulled across organisational boundaries and on a very large scale.
Simon England, director, Accenture Health UK