Review names AHSNs as having key roles in accessing transformative health technology

Posted on 29 October 2015 (Permalink)

Academic Health Science Networks (AHSNs) are to have a key role in aiding the NHS to access transformative health technology, according to the Accelerated Access Review

This review of innovative medicines and medical technologies, supported by the Wellcome Trust, has explored the question of accelerated access through four workstreams spanning the development pathway, and a fifth focusing on patient engagement in all parts of the pathway. Each workstream has looked across issues concerning drugs, devices, diagnostics and digital health products.

The interim report sets out the emerging thinking of the review's independent chair, Sir Hugh Taylor, on speeding up access to transformative health technology that can help change the lives of NHS patients. The report summarises what Sir Hugh and the AAR team have learned during the review’s first phase of engagement.

From the responses received, the review has distilled five key propositions and a number of provisional, high-level conclusions associated with each proposition: 

  • putting the patient centre stage: patients should be given a stronger voice at every stage of the innovation pathway
  • getting ahead of the curve: a radically new approach is required to accelerate and manage entry into our health system for emerging products which promise the most significant, potentially transformative impact in terms of patient benefit and overall value
  • supporting all innovators: the end-to-end innovation pathway can, and should, be more responsive, particularly where this will contribute to better outcomes for patients and more efficient ways of delivering care
  • galvanising the NHS: the NHS must be an active partner in promoting innovation and must be incentivised to adopt new products and systems quickly and effectively
  • delivering change: building on existing structures the health innovation system needs to be streamlined at both local and national level.

There is considerable emphasis on the continued need for AHSNs and how they can develop to support better outcomes for patients and assist the life science industries, with AHSNs cited as part of the excellent information and support services already available to the NHS, and recommending a co-ordinated network of AHSN-based Innovation Exchanges, where locally-borne innovations are given support, and using AHSNs as a means to channel funding. 

Sir Hugh said: "Thanks to an extensive response from our stakeholders, we have been able to develop several propositions which will form the basis of our next phase of engagement. I encourage all interested parties to contribute their views and help us create final recommendations for government."

The interim report was welcomed by Life Sciences Minister George Freeman MP, who said: "We live in an era of exciting medical innovation which offers amazing benefits for patients, NHS and social care staff, and industry. By capitalising on advances in digital diagnostics, health apps, and precision medicines, we can speed up the time it takes to get new drugs and treatments to patients."

The propositions set out in the report will shape the debate for the next few months as the conversation with stakeholders reopens. The review intends to publish its final report with more detailed recommendations by April 2016.