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Our take on the NHS Long Term Plan: Part 2

Part 2: How medtech can improve care quality and outcomes

Following our last blog post on the role of medical technology in the NHS Long Term Plan, the MTG has examined the role of medtech in the NHS’s plans for improving ‘care quality and outcomes’.

In this section of the Long Term Plan, the NHS sets out how service delivery will be improved, the key healthcare developments that will help modernise the service, and how it will promote the uptake of innovation.

Scaling of technology to help the expansion of life-changing treatments to more patients is an important component. The plan explains that safer, more precise treatments such as radiotherapy techniques and immunotherapies will continue to support improvements in survival rates. For stroke patients, it aims to improve the use of thrombolysis and further roll out mechanical thrombectomy. This, it says, will ensure that 90 percent receive care on a specialist stroke unit. It also outlines plans to ensure that patients with type 1 diabetes benefit from life changing glucose monitors.

These measures are all positive and indicate a strong desire to use technology improve patient outcomes. Early detection by improving the monitoring, screening and detection of illness is also key. Therefore, patient access should be at the forefront of planning, and the development of new service models should ensure that all geographies provide relevant technology for all patients.

The uptake and adoption of innovation features prominently in this section of the plan. Notably, the NHS aims to increase the number of people registering to participate in health research to one million by 2023/24. Plans also include a new advisory service for innovators, simplifying health-related national innovations, and accelerating the uptake of proven, affordable innovations through a new medtech mandate, which it claims will mean innovations get to patients faster.

The NHS will also guarantee funding for Academic Health Science Networks, which have been successful in spreading proven innovation across England, until 2023.

A patient-focused approach is fundamental to the plans for innovation, the MTG believes. For example, in all plans to drive the use of technology, there should be a clear role for patients. Furthermore, AHSNs should have a statutory duty to engage patients. This includes a space for a local patient representative on the Board of all 15 regional bodies.

In conclusion, the prominence of technology as a key part of many of the Long Term Plan’s improvement measures is a positive sign for patients. However, in all plans to integrate, implement, and increase uptake of innovative technology, how patients access this technology is a vital issue that needs to be addressed.

December 2019

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