UK healthcare start-ups and the NHS

Pfizer, the pharmaceutical conglomerate has introduced a start-up accelerator program which will assist healthcare tech start-ups in the process of introducing their new technology to the NHS.networking The aim of the program is for the NHS to utilise new technological measures established by start-ups that would greatly benefit the NHS.

Dr Hamish Graham, speaking on behalf of Pfizer, believes that the program will, ‘provide a platform for start-ups to harness Pfizer’s global network, enabling them to get access to our expertise, understanding and guidance. We hope, with our support, that they’ll be able to reach their goals and get their innovations adopted within the health service’.

How the program will work

Healthtech start-ups aim to introduce their technologies to the NHS who would then potentially utilise these in their everyday operations. Technologies include apps, healthcare devices, wearables and virtual reality technologies which can potentially transform the healthcare sector.  Once technologies have been invented however the next stage often brings great difficulty – getting the NHS to adopt their ideas.

Start-ups will compete for a part of Pfizer’s £56,000 grant and 12 month mentoring programme which allow them to network with prominent figures in the UK health industry. The scheme is open to late-stage start-ups who have already developed a product or service that can be readily used. The application process closes at the end of April.

Only three start-ups will be selected, allowing Pfizer to work more closely with them, providing them with personalised support. This can include help with health expertise or marketing to ensure that ‘[the start-ups] have the assets they need and knowing what to say or who to say it to and getting them out there in front of the right people to get that tech adopted’. The program has only one KPI (Key performance indicator); to ensure the tech will be adopted by the NHS and in use by the end of the 12 months.

‘Pfizer recognises that the most powerful innovations come about through connections – between ideas, people, problems and data. By helping start-ups reach more patients and have a greater impact, the hub aims to help transform and improve patient’s lives’ – Dr Graham.

The potential for health-technologies

‘British innovators are at the cutting edge, applying digital incentives to transform health in the UK and beyond’.

Digital health is on the rise, with a growth rate of 20%. Recently the UK has seen various types of these investment programs, for example The North West Fund for Biomedical, Mercia Technologies PLC, and the GM&C Life Sciences all provide investment opportunities in the digital health sphere. Current technological innovations in the healthcare industry include Apps like Babylon Health and PushDoctor which allow patients to remotely monitor their health conditions.

The NHS can benefit greatly from such innovative measures and their willingness to embrace new technologies can be seen in their Sustainability and Transformation Plans – this provides for the use of digital technology whilst acknowledging the challenges of implementing them.

As Dr Graham deems, ‘this is a great moment of opportunity’ that will enhance the NHS’ ability to improve patient care.

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