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Innovation fast-tracking can also benefit allied health professionals

Tagged In:  Allied Health

Prevention and long-term condition management are central to NHS England's commitment to accelerating take-up of cutting-edge med devices and apps. But it's not just good news for doctors and nurses.

"We know there is lots of good innovative work going on in terms of designing new ways of increasing the quality and efficiency of care." So said NHS England's Chief Allied Professions Officer Suzanne Rastrick in October 2015, as she praised allied health professionals for responding to her call for them to enter the NHS Innovation Challenge Prizes.

More recently, NHS England Chief Executive Simon Stevens announced that the way would be smoothed for medtech innovations to be more widely adopted. He also launched the latest round of the NHS Innovation Accelerator (NIA) programme, which supports developers in getting their inventions adopted faster and more systematically across the country.

It's not just frontline clinical staff who will benefit from this increased focus on innovation. One of the main aims is to deliver on key objectives outlined in the NHS Five Year Forward View, helping patients to stay healthy or manage their illnesses more effectively. That means increased opportunities for allied health professionals such as physiotherapists, occupational therapists and speech and language therapists.  With their specialist skills and expertise, they can lead innovation, as well as playing a vital role in implementing the new models of care.

This is underlined by two of the new ideas supported by the NIA programme in its first year, both of which are highly relevant to allied health professionals:

MyCOPD is an app which allows patients with Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disorder (COPD) to self-manage their condition on their smartphone or tablet. Physiotherapists are an essential part of the multi-disciplinary teams that currently run pulmonary rehabilitation programmes, helping to reduce the 130,000 emergency medical admissions related to COPD each year.

Meanwhile, Norfolk clinician Dr Penny Newman has pioneered 'health coaching', which helps patients take control of their condition to improve their health and quality of life. It's applicable to all long-term conditions and has the potential to reduce pressure not only on doctors and nurses, but also on allied health professionals, enabling them to concentrate their efforts on patients with most need.

"At a time when the NHS is under pressure, rather than just running harder to stand still, it's time to grab with both hands these practical new treatments and technologies," commented Simon Stevens, having explained that there would now be an explicit national reimbursement route for new medtech innovations. "In the rest of our lives we're seeing the difference that innovative tech makes, and now the NHS will have a streamlined way of getting ground-breaking and practical new technologies into the hands of patients and our frontline nurses, doctors and other staff. By doing that, we can transform people's lives."

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