Encouraging greater use of new technologies on the NHS

There will be a more seamless integration of NICE guidance and practical support and information at a local NHS level

NICE's support for hospitals wanting to adopt innovative new technologies was boosted in May 2013 as we took on the work of the NHS Technology Adoption Centre (NTAC).

With funding from NHS England, the new Health Technologies Adoption Programme (HTAP) at NICE provides a more systematic approach to the adoption by the NHS of new technologies such as diagnostic and monitoring devices, surgical implants and other technologies that improve the care given to patients.

Despite the often considerable potential of these new technologies to improve patient health and increase NHS productivity, there is concern that the benefits are not made available to patients quickly enough. The government's Innovation Health and Wealth report in 2011 recommended the transfer of the NHS Technology Adoption Centre to NICE in an effort to improve uptake.

NICE's new programme works in a similar way to NTAC, engaging with front-line clinicians, managers and procurement specialists in hospitals, clinical commissioning groups and community services to enable them to better understand and overcome the barriers to adoption.

By moving into the organisation and working alongside NICE's implementation group, there will be a more seamless integration of NICE guidance and practical support and information at a local NHS level. HTAP will also support the work of Academic Health Science Networks, a new tier of organisations created to improve the identification, adoption and spread of innovation in the NHS.

NTAC's Chief Executive Sally Chisholm leads the HTAP programme. She said “NTAC's work over the past six years has provided an extremely close fit with NICE and so we were delighted to be ‘closing the loop' by transferring across into the Institute. We're going to be able to provide a much more seamless and effective route to implementing new technologies in the NHS as a result.

“Government and the health charities spend over £2 billion a year on research, which has produced many new and improved ways of delivering healthcare. However, the NHS often lags behind other countries in terms of implementation.

"Hospitals often try and fail to introduce new technologies - and it is sometimes very difficult to understand the reasons. Understanding and being able to negotiate through the technology adoption process is vital, and it is exactly this support that we will be providing doctors and managers in the NHS.”

To date, HTAP has published support products on:


Shared learning – helping to spread best practice

This year we have added 74 new examples to our Shared Learning Database covering a wide range of topics. In particular, we have been focusing on encouraging submissions in a number of clinical areas where we are due to launch forthcoming guidance.  Ensuring that shared learning examples are available at the time of guidance launch can help organisations overcome any potential barriers and successfully implement our recommendations.

In November 2013 we published guidance on the secondary prevention of myocardial infarction and an accompanying shared learning example on maximising access to cardiac rehabilitation service through the use of an innovative web-based approach.

Activate Your Heart is an online cardiac rehabilitation programme designed by specialists and patients at the University Hospitals of Leicester NHS Trust.  The programme aims to help patients who have had a recent cardiac event, or have an existing cardiac problem, manage their condition more effectively.

In January 2014, we updated our guidance on the diagnosis and treatment of prostate cancer. To help support putting this guidance into practice, we published a shared learning example on integrating men treated with prostate cancer into exercise referral schemes. The example outlines how Bedford and Addenbrooke's Cambridge University Hospitals ensured that all men with prostate cancer received exercise counselling and were offered referral to a 12 week exercise programme in line with NICE recommendations.

Both shared learning examples were shortlisted for the NICE Shared Learning Awards.  Now in its eighth year, our Shared Learning Awards recognise and celebrate services and organisations that have put NICE guidance or quality standards into practice in innovative and effective ways. The overall winner is chosen by delegates attending the NICE Annual Conference.

The 2013 award went to South Western Ambulance Service NHS Foundation Trust for its work in harmonising pre-hospital care across South West England. The Trust acquired Great Western Ambulance Service creating an opportunity for both organisations to work together to harmonise care and improve clinical practice.

To do this, the Trust aimed to use NICE guidance to set a standard of care and ensure that it is consistent from day one, and across the region. Previously, both organisations used a Clinical Notices system to disseminate NICE guidance to staff. However, it was difficult to keep up with the scores of updates presented each year and to memorise the detail they contained.

To overcome these problems, the Trust took the radical approach of issuing a clinical guidelines folder. This was developed by the senior clinical teams working together to provide a standard, concise and easily accessible resource written by ambulance clinicians, for ambulance clinicians.

To apply for the awards, submit an example to the shared learning database describing the way you or used NICE guidance or quality standards.