NHS launches £150k tech innovation prize

Hospital corridor doctors NHS
Last week NHS England appointed 17 entrepreneurs to help expand successful small-scale innovative projects © iStock/Squaredpixels

NHS staff have until 13 September to bid for a £150,000 pot to fund projects aimed at improving the use of technology across the NHS.

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NHS England has launched a new technology ‘Innovation Challenge’ award today, with funding of £150,000 available for staff with new ideas to improve the way services are delivered.

The money is available across two categories: ideas to improve cancer outcomes and ‘small innovations that have the potential to make a big difference to patients’, according to NHS England.

Bids open at 12pm today and are welcome from anyone working in the NHS. On top of funding, successful applicants will receive ‘professional support from internal and external partners’ to help them develop their ideas and spread them across the health service, NHS England said.

Entries must be submitted by 14 September and will be judged by a panel of clinical, industry, third sector, patient organisations and top NHS England officials. Winners will be announced in November.

The challenge is part of wider efforts to improve the adoption of new technology across the NHS.

Last week NHS England appointed 17 academics and entrepreneurs to lead an ‘NHS Innovation Accelerator’ scheme, to help expand existing successful small-scale innovative projects nationally.

It has also promised to announce a series of ‘test beds ’to trial the potential impact of new technologies, like Internet of Things devices within the NHS, by December 2015.

Last year’s challenge, worth £100,000, provided funding for a new referral system in Southend for patients suffering a mini-stroke, increasing the number of high risk patients seen within 24 hours from 17 percent to 96 percent.

It funded a project in Kent for a new online assessment technique for Carpal Tunnel Syndrome, which uses real-time artificial intelligence to analyse data input by patients, reducing unnecessary appointments and tests. A new smartphone and SMS texting helpline for young people with self-harm issues in Leicestershire also received funding.

“What makes the challenge prizes special is that they reward great ideas from people who already work in the NHS, and can see for themselves what needs to change,” NHS England’s national commissioning strategy director Ian Dodge said.

“It might be an app, or a gadget, or a different way of doing something.  These are ideas you’d never get from behind a desk in Whitehall, and because they’re “made in the NHS” they’ve got the very best chance of success.  We’re getting behind them with financial and practical help, because we want to see great care for patients and great value for the taxpayer”, he added.

There will be a second wave of funding launched for new bids this autumn.

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