The National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) has seen its remit widened to help encourage and accelerate the uptake of innovative technologies throughout the National Health Service.

NHS England has commissioned the Institute to take over the work of the NHS Technology Adoption Centre (NTAC), which was set up in 2007 to assist organisations in overcoming obstacles to adopting new technologies.

While new technologies have huge potential to boost patient health and boost productivity, there is growing concern that these benefits are not reaching patients quickly enough. 

A central role of the NTAC's work was to link with industry and the NHS and support products assessed by NICE's Medical Technologies guidance programme.

Now, after the seal of approval from the Department of Health, the team has joined the Institute to become the Health Technologies Adoption Programme, as recommended by the government's 2011 Innovation Health and Wealth report.

NICE’s new programme will look to develop ‘adoption guides’ describing how NHS organisations can introduce specific technologies into routine clinical use in a sustainable manner, such as by detailing staff training needs of business case development, for example.

It will also help suppliers in the medical technologies and diagnostics industry better get to grips with the complex NHS landscape, by working hand-in-hand with the Institute's existing scientific advice programme to offer consultancy and guidance to those whose products have already demonstrated benefits and could improve NHS efficiency, it said.

Lagging behind

“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," noted Sally Chisholm, former Chief Executive of NTAC and now Programme Director of NICE’s Health Technologies Adoption Programme.

“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," she said.

“We hope it will demonstrate NICE's ability to act as a facilitator, rather than a barrier, to the adoption of new technologies in the NHS," she stressed.

Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt said last year one of the priorities during his tenure will be to bring the technology revolution to the NHS, which, he claims, has "barely touched the NHS in terms of patient experience".