Mark Salmon, Programme Director - Information Resources, at the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence, discusses the Evidence for Effectiveness project involving NHS England, MedCity, Public Health England and DigitalHealth.London.

The health and care system needs a more consistent, value driven approach to the commissioning and adoption of digital health and medical technologies that helps the system to identify innovations that not only work best for patients and carers, but also offers clear economic benefits.

NICE is involved in two key initiatives with national partners to achieve these aims by developing standards to help innovators and commissioners to understand what ‘good’ evidence for digital technologies looks like, and a new online tool to enable companies to inform organisations like NICE and NHS England about digital health and medical technologies they are developing.

Evidence for Effectiveness

Working with NHS England, MedCity, Public Health England and DigitalHealth.London we are developing a set of standards that set out the levels of evidence needed by the health and care system to demonstrate clinical effectiveness and economic benefit, for different types of digital health technologies.

Our goal is to create a set of ‘Evidence for Effectiveness’ standards (EfE) that is recognised and adopted across the health and care system. In recent months we have been bringing key parties together, including Industry, Commissioners and other stakeholders, to better understand their needs to inform the standards we want to create.
At NICE we have been working on a way of classifying and categorising digital health apps, against their functionality and any potential risks. Having completed that we are now looking at how we can link this to evidence about the effectiveness of apps. The aim being to allow innovators and commissioners to rapidly identify where products fit and understand what evidence is needed to show the value of their product to the health and care system.

The EfE standards, due to be published later in the year, will be freely available for developers and commissioners and will be linked to from a wide range of partner websites across the system.

HealthTech Connect

The EfE work comes at a useful time because it complements other work being taken forward by NICE, most significantly, the development of HealthTech Connect. This new online system commissioned by NHS England and due to be released later this year enables companies to signal if they want to put their product forward for evaluation by NICE or help them access support to develop their evidence base. The HealthTech Connect platform will also help developers with implementation and adoption of their technology. It will connect companies to the right support at the right time. Technologies that are digital, or that have a significant digital component, will also be automatically directed to the EfE Standards for digital health technologies.

Tackling the challenges and realising the opportunities of digital health and medical technology is a collaborative, system-wide endeavour that can only be achieved by working in partnership across health and care at a local, regional and national level. By working in this way we can develop tools that product developers and innovators, commissioners and the wider system need to improve understanding, provide support and assurance, and ultimately deliver benefits to patients.

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