The NHS contains a wealth of ideas that have the potential to generate commercial revenue stream for the service, an from North West NHS Innovation Hub Trustech highlights. By creating a positive culture for staff to become innovators and by seeking support from the wider business community, both the NHS and patients could benefit.
The NHS service providers are the largest healthcare providers in the UK, with their principal concern the treatment of UK residents on the road back to health. Within the performance of its primary function, the NHS environment also creates a natural hotbed for innovation. Its staff is often bright and highly educated, and takes part in a vast array of settings that require applied knowledge of expert systems. This makes them ideally situated to develop insights into how to streamline operations, innovate new ways of doing routine and specialised procedures or understand how external ideas might be deployed within their area of knowledge.
Many of those insights remain idle however, yet could, if brought in the right way, lead to international commercial success. In order to better utilise the wealth of possibility contained in their staff, the NHS developed a number of ‘innovation hubs’ whose role it is to “help NHS employees bring their ideas to life.”
Bridging theory and practice
In an article in the Global Innovation Magazine, consulting firm Trustech* discusses its role in bringing together NHS experts and their ideas with the business world. The firm sees its role as a bridge between ideas in the hands of NHS experts and the business world and offers services such as help with intellectual property, developing products, running trials and focus groups, and helping commercialise innovations developed by NHS staff.
The bridge goes both ways however, and while incubating and developing NHS ideas is one part of what the consultancy does, it also looks to the business world to find innovations that could improve NHS services. On example of this is its “Smart Solutions” programme that asked businesses to consider products and offerings that could be applied laterally into the wider NHS ecosystem. The firm found nine products with potential. Of these, a number were selected to be deployed in the NHS, with as example an anti-microbial paint used in the fish processing industry.
According to the Trustech, the NHS still has a large amount of latent commercial potential that could increase its revenue. The biggest problem is the culture of believing that care would be compromised by placing focus on extracting value. Trustech emphasises that this does not have to be the case and more could be done. One way to change the culture and improve innovative development is to place emphasis on the ‘heroes’ within the NHS ranks that have been able both treat and innovate. By doing this, role models would be created that others would seek to emulate, and by celebrating success long term outcomes for both the NHS and its patients would be improved.
*Trustech is an in 2001 founded NHS Innovation Hub healthcare specialist consultancy. The organisation works with NHS organisations, companies, and regional, national and international bodies and networks to bring forward new ideas and help to put them into practice. It provides an innovation management service and a consultancy service for organisations. Trustech also acts as a point of contact between the NHS and industry to build commercial relationships, and plays a wider role in the development of the healthcare economy.