NHS launches digital health tech accelerator in London

The U.K.'s National Health Service doesn't have the reputation of being particularly technology savvy. In fact, it's had a long and public struggle--that's not yet complete--to get electronic medical records into place. But NHS England CEO Simon Stevens, who rejoined the agency in early 2014, is making a big push for the more effective integration of tech. And the former UnitedHealth Group exec is trying to loop business into early efforts to integrate more technology to promote healthcare efficiency.

One of the latest projects is the recently launched the DigitalHealth.London Accelerator, a program to encourage digital health companies to engage with the NHS in order to develop and refine products and services that can better meet the needs of the national health system. The expectation is not only that the program provides useful technologies to the NHS, but that it helps London to become a global hub for digital health technology innovation.

Sarah Haywood, MedCity CEO

"Digital health is a tremendous opportunity for the U.K., and London is in a prime position to lead the way," said MedCity CEO Sarah Haywood in a February statement. "By creating a single access point for everyone with an interest in digital health, we can generate an efficient and demand-focused pipeline that means potentially transformative technologies are reaching patients and the NHS much more speedily, and companies can grow and succeed."

MedCity, a collaboration between the Mayor of London and the city' three Academic Health Science Centres: Imperial College Academic Health Science Centre, King's Health Partners and UCL Partners, is part of a partnership running the accelerator that also includes the London's Academic Health Science Networks, Guys and St Thomas' Charity, CW + the Charity for Chelsea and Westminster NHS Foundation Trust, Digital Catapult and Silicon Valley Bank. The effort is supported by an undisclosed amount of funding from the European Regional Development Fund.

The DigitalHealth.London Accelerator is a one year program that's slated to support up to 30 small- and medium-sized businesses. It will help them to engage with doctors and other healthcare experts, tailor their products to meet the needs of the NHS as well as enable access to health facilities in order to progress their product development.

Dr. Adrian Bull, managing director of Imperial College Health Partners

The accelerator was officially launched in February with a kick-off event in early March. The accelerator is accepting applications for its first class of companies that are due on April 25.

"We are acutely aware that the NHS is a large and complex organisation, and many entrepreneurs struggle to know how to engage with us," noted Dr. Adrian Bull, Managing Director of Imperial College Health Partners. "However there is huge enthusiasm amongst our staff to take advantage of the opportunities digital health offers and to work with innovative companies to develop the right new products. Through DigitalHealth.London we can share understanding and expertise, and pioneer models to adopt innovation speedily--it's a hugely exciting opportunity."

- here is the MedCity announcement
- information on the kick-off event
- and the DigitalHealth.London application