Brain Injury HTC_headToday’s guest blog from the National Institute of Health Research (NIHR) examines the growing influence of technology in healthcare and the role of the NIHR in helping to bring these innovative developments to patients faster.  

The nation’s healthcare costs are rising fast, fuelled by growing rates of obesity, dementia and the increasing number of people with multimorbidities. The UK was faced with a medicines bill of over £13 billion in 2014/2015 and spending this year is expected to increase. Research and innovation in the NHS is critical for addressing these challenges, with healthcare technology a key focus due to its ability to transform patient experience while also making efficiency savings.

This opportunity to improve patients’ lives and reduce costs can be demonstrated through simple applications such as using SMS to remind patients about appointments, wearable devices that wirelessly monitor patients’ vital signs and technologies that improve patient experiences, like the neck collar for patients with Motor Neurone Disease (MND) and associated neck muscle weakness.

As the research arm of the NHS, a key focus of the National Institute of Health Research (NIHR) is to help bring these innovative healthcare technologies to patients faster. The NIHR funds leading-edge research and provides the facilities and people to conduct first class research in the NHS that spans the innovation pathway. For example, through eight dedicated NIHR Healthcare Technology Co-operatives (HTCs), the NIHR is working collaboratively with industry, charities and patients to carry out early phase research that will pull through the development of medical technologies into clinical practice. These HTCs provide centres of excellence in clinical areas, or themes of high morbidity, such as brain injury, wound prevention and treatment, trauma management and colorectal therapies.

Brain Injury HTCThe HTCs are able to access expertise in, for example, nanotechnology, biosensing and engineering that can aid the development of a range of medical technology solutions and support collaboration with industry. The UK SME community provides a hot-bed of innovation that is providing solutions to healthcare challenges. This is not only good news for the health of the nation; it can also benefit the economy. The UK medical technology sector boasts an annual turnover of £18bn from more than 3,000 companies, employing an estimated 88,000 people across the UK. The NIHR’s integrated research system is embedded within a unique National Health Service (NHS) and therefore provides a significant competitive advantage for attracting investment.

The NIHR Brain Injury HTC brings patients, carers, academics, engineers, doctors and nurses together with industry to develop innovative technology to prevent and treat brain injuries and their after-effects. It has organised a special Technology Showcase and Think Tank event on Wednesday 27 January 2016 themed on ‘technologies for independent living’ following brain injury. The event will provide an opportunity to tap into the HTC’s expertise and explore potential collaborations between industry, academics and clinicians. It will also give tech innovators and SME’s the opportunity to showcase their concepts, products and services to an audience of expert clinicians, service providers, academics and the public. The showcase will be immediately followed by interactive Q&A’s focussed on the technologies.

Registration for the event is by application and applications are encouraged from companies and project teams with healthcare technologies that would like to take the opportunity to provide a short presentation followed by expert Q&A. If you are interested in contributing to this showcase and networking event, please contact Talissa Gasser.

Brain scanTo find out more, click here

To find out more about working with other areas of the NIHR, contact the NIHR Office for Clinical Research Infrastructure.