In the first of our new blog series, we ask Jenny Thomas, the programme director at DigitalHealth.London, about the impact of Covid-19 on healthcare innovation, the outlook for SMEs and innovators in the coming year and the new event partnership with Digital Health Rewired 2021. 

How has the Covid-19 pandemic affected digital innovation across the NHS?

This year has become a defining moment for digital health as it has been at the forefront of the NHS’ response to the pandemic. NHS organisations have been able to implement new products and services quickly and safely, many for the first time. 

This has resulted in a cultural shift within many NHS organisations and a greater interest in digital health than ever before. Many pathways for example that would have traditionally taken years to change, were transformed through digital in weeks and months. 

The COVID-19 response has kick started digital transformation in some areas and their success is largely down to the amazing and creative way NHS staff and health tech companies have adapted and problem solved. 

However, there is now a need for greater evaluation of digital products and services, with consideration given to digital inclusion. There remains huge potential to truly reimagine care pathways that will deliver better patient outcomes and better support our NHS staff.

What are your favourite examples of DigitalHealth.London accelerator companies making a difference in these challenging times?

It is wonderful to see how DigitalHealth.London Accelerator companies have responded to the pandemic. There are so many examples I’d love to share; I feel incredibly proud of all of them.  

What I have really noticed and been especially excited about is the number of companies that I have personally used recently.  When my GP sent me a text and asked if I would like to convert to accessing consultations via video, I spotted it was powered by cohort 3 company Accrux. 

When I wanted to check out a mole, I was delighted to see that cohort 2 company Skin Analytics had partnered with Bupa and I would be able to get a diagnosis quickly and effectively from my own home. Whilst I was pregnant, I tested’s smartphone enabled clinical grade urine test. 

The impact our Accelerator companies can have on people’s lives is phenomenal. These three companies have all added value to my care in the past weeks and months.

Looking ahead, what do you think 2021 holds in store for digital health SMEs and innovators?

I think digital health will have a key role to play in the recovery phase of the global pandemic, managing backlogs, supporting NHS staff and helping people manage their own health more effectively. 

Given many digital innovations have been introduced for the first time this year, there is a vastly growing need for generating evidence and demonstrating the value of digital health. This is vital in enabling the NHS and social care sector to scale innovations quickly and safely. 

I also believe that certain areas of digital health will further advance either because there is an unmet need (for example tackling obesity) or because there is huge potential to reimagine care pathways. 

The inspiring thing at the moment, is that there are now more NHS staff interested, better supported and able to engage with digital health. I also believe that private providers and insurers will continue to rapidly improve their digital offers. For example, this week Vitality health partnered with London health tech start up, Peppy, to offer a dedicated menopause support service.  I’m sure we’ll see much more of this in 2021 from all areas of the UK health sector.

Why has digitalhealth.London partnered with Digital Health Rewired for the 2021 show?

Rewired is a fantastic opportunity for everyone interested in digital health to come together. From the NHS change makers on the ground in our hospitals, to national policy makers and industry leading innovators, the digital health sector is dynamic and growing in diversity and strength. 

At DigitalHealth.London we are delighted to be partnering the Pitchfest event, offering digital health innovators an opportunity to showcase their products and services to a national audience and the opportunity to gain recognition and support.  

You are a member of the Digital Health Rewired programme group. What can delegates expect from Rewired 2021?

 Delegates can expect access to some of the most influential digital health leaders in the country through dynamic and interactive sessions. We will be showcasing ground-breaking technologies and innovations that will inspire and may help solve some of the biggest challenges facing health and care providers. There will be opportunities to hear from new and often unheard voices including those of patients, emerging digital leaders and NHS staff.

What are you most excited about for the future of UK digital health?

 Digital health has so many opportunities to support the NHS for the benefit of patients and our fantastic staff. By reimagining care pathways through digital health, we can truly improve the way care is provided and accessed. Digital health can provide people with better access to data about our bodies and empower us all to be more proactive about managing our own health. 

What I am excited about though is FemTech. I believe healthier women lead to healthier families and healthier societies and to help achieve that the NHS has a lot to gain from better engaging with the emerging and growing sector that is FemTech.

Get your ticket for Digital Health Rewired 2021 to join the must-attend virtual festival celebrating the best of digital health and care, taking place across 15-19 March 2021. 

Book your place here

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