Academic Health Science Networks launch nationwide digital accelerators

Five digital health accelerators have been launched across England to help accelerate the uptake of technology in the NHS.

A total of 34 small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) have been selected for their potential to solve key challenges facing the health service, as part of the digital health accelerator programme.

The programmes are run by the Academic Health Science Networks (AHSN), which was established by NHS England in 2013 to spread innovation.

Each AHSN works across a distinct geography serving a different population in each region.

It is the first time the accelerator programme has been launched outside of London, with schemes also being set up in Manchester, the South West, East Midlands, Kent, Surrey and Sussex.

Mike Hannay, chair of the AHSNs, said: “Despite the array of talent and resources available, there is room for much better collaboration between SMEs and the health system to increase England’s competitiveness in digital innovation.

“Connections between entrepreneurial innovation and health are essential for England to realise its potential and become a world leader in digital health innovation.

“We have seen rapid growth in the companies supported by our existing London accelerator and look forward to building on this with the next generation of start-ups.”

As part of the programme, the successful SMEs receive one-to-one support from someone with strong clinical or NHS provider experience, specialist training, product development support and regular opportunities to showcase their product.

The successful companies from this year include:

  • Forward Clinical Ltd: a secure messaging and workflow app created by doctors that could save hospital doctors an average of 42 minutes per shift versus current communication tools.
  • an app turning smartphones into regulatory-approved clinical devices for urine testing.
  • My Possible Self: a mental health app designed to reduce stress, anxiety and depression.
  • Safe Steps: an app that helps reduce the risk of falls by assessing and tracking lifestyle and risk factors of care home residents.

As reported by Digital Health News in June, NHS England has increased the funding it provides to Academic Health Science Networks (AHSNs) to help speed up the rate at which new digital innovations are distributed.

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