Innovation ‘cannot come too soon’ for NHS

Innovation represents one of the few ways the NHS can relieve the demographic and financial pressures it faces, a major new report from govtech investment firm PUBLIC says this week. But it says major barriers still lie in the way of digital health innovation.

PUBLIC-The-Promise-of-HealthTechDigital is changing healthcare “in ways that were scarcely imaginable only five years ago”, PUBLIC’s Promise of HealthTech report says this week.

Written by former minister for public health and innovation Nicola Blackwood, the report unpacks the opportunities for healthtech innovators, outlining the key factors driving the global need for innovation.

Blackwood says innovations like cloud computing, VR, 3D printing, genomics and artificial intelligence are bringing changes to the NHS that “cannot come too soon”.

As well as noting the trends contributing to the growth of digital health, the report also identifies “major barriers to innovation” in the NHS. These, says the report, include:

– lack of clarity about evidence required to scale
– fast-evolving regulation of digital health products
– slow procurement practices
– partial interoperability
– unclear data security standards
– limited change management and digital skills.

But, says Blackwood, “it is worth startups focusing attention on – and building solutions for – the areas where the NHS is likely to be more receptive to innovative technologies”. She identifies nine “key areas of opportunity”:

• procurement and productivity
• recruitment and training
• prevention
• winter pressures and supported self-care
• Ai in pathology and radiology
• patient safety
• mental health
• social care
• research.

The report also provides tips for innovators, along with advice for startups wanting to work with the NHS – and includes a new HealthTech 27 – a list of the most promising healthtech companies in the nine opportunity areas.

PUBLIC says innovation represents one of the few ways that the NHS can sustainably relieve the demographic and financial pressures it faces. Without major reform, it says that the NHS may see a £30bn funding gap open up over the next three years alone.

It says there is evidence that the system is approaching a true inflection point. “The NHS needs digital transformation,” says PUBLIC. “Its leadership wants it, as do its patients. And now the market can finally provide it.”

PUBLIC was founded a year ago by former Cameron policy advisor Daniel Korski, to help startups transform public services.

PUBLIC’s HealthTech 27

Procurement and productivity

Echo – free service that delivers medicines to the door and reminds patients when and how to take them and when a repeat prescription is needed

Flynotes – digital consent platform for dental and medical procedures, providing an easy-to-use and robust consenting process

DrDoctor – online and text-based service that allows patients to confirm, cancel, and change bookings digitally.

Recruitment and training

The Touch Surgery platform – interactive surgical simulator for healthcare professionals, providing a realistic and detailed guide to every step of a procedure

Lantum – cloud-based tool, designed by doctors and rota managers, to help NHS providers fill empty shifts in their clinical rotas

3D Life Prints – offers patient specific 3D printed anatomical models based medical image data are used by surgeons for a variety of purposes such as pre and intra (after sterilisation) surgical assessment and planning in preparation for complex surgeries, and for education.


OurPath – three-month digital behavioural change programme that helps people to sustainably improve their health and wellbeing, and reduce risk of chronic diseases like type 2 diabetes

Livesmart – offering connected, personalised solutions for those who want to lose weight, become more active, or reduce stress or the risk of developing a chronic disease in the future

Sleepio – digital sleep improvement programme (available via web and mobile), clinically proven to help overcome even long-term poor sleep.

Winter pressures and supported self care

myCOPD – integrated online education, self-management, symptom reporting and pulmonary rehabilitation system to help people with COPD manage their condition more effectively

Pushdoctor – platform to allow patients to book online GP appointments on laptop, tablet or mobile, receive medical advice, receive same-day prescriptions, referrals and fit notes

ArtemusICS – data-driven population health intelligence platform, which supports community teams to identify and keep patients out of hospital and A&E through earlier detection and intervention.

Ai in pathology and radiology

Kheiron Medical – medical imaging company that has developed a computer-aided radiology diagnostics tool powered by machine learning

Ultromics – cardiovascular diagnostics company that has combined machine learning and one of the world’s largest cardiac imaging datasets to automatically diagnose heart disease from echocardiograms with a 90% accuracy rate

xRapid-Medical – uses deep learning Ai to diagnose malaria from thick or thin blood slides simply by attaching a smartphone camera to a microscope providing an accessible diagnosis for health workers in the lab and in the field in less than 100 seconds.

Patient safety

Coordinate my Care – web-based IT platform enabling digital, multidisciplinary urgent care planning for end of life care

MyRecovery – app specially designed for orthopaedic patients

OWise – personalised care app for patients with breast cancer.

Mental health

Ieso – connecting patients to therapists who can deliver cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) to patients in real-time through written conversation online, using a secure virtual therapy room

BrainWaveBank – allows anyone to measure and track their cognitive health at home, taking just a few minutes every day

Psious – mental health VR therapy solution, called PsiousToolsuite, enabling therapists to apply hyper-virtual reality therapy to patients through a smartphone, low-cost VR goggles and a biofeedback sensor. Social care

Cera – technology-enabled homecare provider, delivering door-to-door healthcare services

Kraydel – TV-enabled video software that allows family members and professional care workers to provide remote care for the elderly in their own homes

Rally Round – free and secure online tool that family and friends can use to provide joint care for their loved ones.


uMotif – fast, scalable and engaging patient-centred data capture platform for modern research

Dementia Citizens Beta – connects people affected by dementia with researchers

Antidote – accelerating the breakthroughs of new treatments by bridging the gap between medical research and the people who need them.

The Promise of HealthTech: How Digital Innovators are Transforming the NHS