Innovation and access to medical technology, devices and diagnostics in the NHS

Written by Victoria Last on Tuesday 26th June 2018

Victoria Last, Market Access Consultant, attended a Keynote Seminar run by Westminster Health Forum recently. With the meeting focused on the future in the NHS for medical technology, medical devices and diagnostics, read her thought provoking summary here:

This week I attended one of the Keynote Seminars run by the Westminster Health Forum, which are focused on valuable, poignant issues at the heart of healthcare and well attended by key representatives from industry, NHSE and NICE. The discussions in this particular meeting centred on the future in the NHS for medical technologies, devices and diagnostics.  With 90% of NICE Technology Appraisals relating to medicinal products, devices can often be overlooked and the process to get a device to market in the UK is onerous, taking around 4.6 years on average. However it is worth noting that diagnostic services is the first step in almost all patient pathways, forming an integral part of over 80% of clinical decisions and accounts for around 10% of NHS spend.

Medical technology is based on a constant, iterative approach to innovation and attention should be drawn to the advances and invention in this rapidly developing area. Innovation sat at the core of the discussions throughout the day and was highlighted in the multidisciplinary diagnostic centres, model hospital, digital imaging networks, emerging pathology networks and the potential use of AI in diagnostics as examples of how digital revolution is moving the NHS forward in achieving better care for patients.

The day was hugely positive, and the numerous initiatives to support innovation across medical technology was highlighted; including the AHSN Atlas of Solutions repository of case studies, Innovation Accelerator, Innovation and Technology Payment and the SBRI Healthcare initiative delivered by the AHSN network. The NICE Accelerated Access Review is intended to catalyse access for innovative products, and is suitable for not just for medicines, but also for diagnostics, medical devices and digital healthcare products. Supported by Innovation Exchanges run by the AHSNs to help innovators understand what the healthcare demands are and where evidence is needed to support spread and adoption of the product across the healthcare system, NICE anticipate around 5 products a year will complete the process. In addition HealthTechConnect, launching in October (previously MedTechScan) will support by building a national horizon-scanning system for medical technologies, particularly those that the NHS may want to commission in the future. 

It is well publicised that the way medical devices are being regulated is changing, and with 50% of CE marking carried out in the UK the concerns around what will happen post-Brexit was one of the key themes of the day. Reassurance was given however, as the MHRA are champions of global harmonisation and there is no logic in disparate regulatory requirements across the globe for the same product, notified bodies should continue to be recognised and the UK will still be able to participate in technology discussions with the EU, although not directly in regulatory discussions.

With it being European MedTech week, it is a good time to pay attention to the support medical devices and technology can give not just to patients, but to services and also to enhance access and value of other medicines. The focus on our current processes and regulations for medical technology and what they may look like post-Brexit offers an opportunity to be more innovative in the way industry is supported and allow co-creation with the NHS to create a more collaborative network to truly embrace the potential that medical technology can bring to healthcare.

OPEN Access Consulting is a market access consultancy and part of the OPEN Health Group. For more information on how we can help you gain market access with a medical device or technology, please contact Victoria Last at