Digital Salutem
13 September 2016

How Can the NHS Foster More and Better Innovation

By João Bocas

We all are aware that budget cuts are a real problem facing industries around the world – it seems like everyone is expecting to do more with less to break even; to make ends meet. The public health sector and social care systems are under this same scrutiny, believe it or not. This is incredible obvious when you look at how public health systems are supposed to handle population aging. Populations around the world are aging and they have increasingly more complicated health needs. The resources being used to help them are becoming fewer and further between.

Funding is also an issue, and this comes along with shorter deadlines. Officials want more done during smaller timeframes or else the financial security of the NHS will truly be on the line. This creates a hotbed of pressure and overloading that hurts the system instead of helps it.


This pressure forces the NHS to work on innovation above all else. When new thoughts and practices that relieve the workload are put into place, the problem becomes easier to solve.

Innovation…What it Isn’t

There are actually a lot of kneejerk reactions that come up when we hear “innovation”. A common solution that’s brought up is to create new technologies and devices to help solve the problem. While it is good to fund research to create devices that better the lives of others, this isn’t actually innovation. New technology can help with innovation, but by definition innovation is doing something different in order to improve.

Established organizations can, and should, consider innovation in order to better their results. The myth is that only new players in the medical world, like new labs and startups, are allowed to innovate and try to reinvent the wheel. The reality is that if more established organizations tried to innovate, they’d likely succeed more than they failed.

There’s also a question of whether change is needed. Honestly, in many cases “yes” is the answer. As the world changes, the world of medicine and the medical industry must change with it.

Innovation…What it Is

It is true that it’s easier for startups to scrap ideas and build new ones when they aren’t established and that it is harder to change systems and cultures already put in place. One way to be innovative in established environments is to start cutting the red tape. Gatekeeping and innovation often don’t mix, and the lowest people on the totem pole often have the most on-the-ground experience that becomes beneficial to brainstorming.

Failure will be likely, but that’s not something to shy away from. Innovation is about swinging, missing and then swinging again. However, in the world of medicine there is obviously a lot more risk involved. Theories and ideas must be thought out and tested, and changes made should be incredibly valuable.

Finally, changes always start at the top. If the officials and people in charge aren’t part of the solution, a solution isn’t possible. An organization should breathe as one, and this starts with those who are in charge. Once they’re on board, the solutions can begin to take hold.

More articles:

–  Big Data: Healthcare Prevention

– Big Data: Challenge, or Opportunity for Healthcare? 

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