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Creating a new NHS England: NHS England and NHS Digital merged on 1 February 2023. More about the merger.

Evidence for Effectiveness in Digital Health Innovations

By Dr Indra Joshi, 6 July 2018


A side-on image of Dr Indra Joshi presenting in front of a large screen with a Powerpoint presentation

As digital health innovations develop at an increasing pace, it is important that they are safe, effective and offer value. Over the past few years the market has been flooded with some excellent innovations – and some not so good. It has not always been easy to distinguish between them. We have fatigued the system with endless pilots and trials but are seeing little ‘at scale’ adoption.

So we reached out across the system and listened to the concerns from innovators and industry who were not clear on what was the evidence they needed to show. We also heard from commissioners who wanted guidance on what effectiveness and value from digital health innovations should look like. Importantly, we heard from clinicians and citizens, desperate to use innovative tools to help them help their patients, themselves and those they care for.

A working group led by NHS England, and including MedCity, National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE), Public Health England, and DigitalHealth.London, is developing guidance and standards to address this issue. We want to make it easier for innovators and commissioners to understand what ‘good’ evidence for digital tools looks like, while meeting the needs of the NHS and patients. Developing technologies is a collaborative process and we are bringing key parties together, including industry, commissioners and other stakeholders, to address their needs and experiences.

The Evidence for Effectiveness (EfE) work sits within the wider context of a cross-government project to develop a ‘Code of Conduct’. In essence this will be a standard for the digital health marketplace, providing transparent guidance on what should be considered when developing and buying digital health innovations, including the data standards, ethical considerations, information governance, clinical safety and commercial requirements. Linked in with projects across the system this Code aims to:

  • enable better commissioning, with commissioners being better equipped to know what to ask to developers or industry and what to expect back;
  • provide guidelines for digital health innovators on how to work with the NHS and the standards expected from them;
  • facilitate a functioning market, leading to a minimum standard of higher quality health products and tools with a clear pathway for procurements.

We have organised some initial free workshops for commissioners and industry on the 18th and 31st July. We would like to invite you to contribute your early thoughts and help design this Evidence for Effectiveness framework. You can book here.

This is a collaborative, system-wide endeavour and by working in partnership across health and care at a local, regional and national level, we aim to solve some rather difficult and as yet unchartered territory together.

Last edited: 17 August 2018 3:13 pm