The policy seminar on the challenges of healthcare innovation hosted by the King’s Think Tank Global Health Policy Centre took place on Wednesday the 7th of December at King’s College London. The format of the seminar was unique; a select committee of 13 members from diverse backgrounds including healthcare providers to industry experts, medical students, and early career scientists were invited to a closed discussion on the key challenges of healthcare innovation.
The keynote speaker was North London GP Dr Kartik Modha, founder of the immensely successful Tiko’s GP Group and CEO & Co-Founder of myHealthspecialist.com, a unique digital health platform. He presented the key challenges faced by healthcare entrepreneurs in the United Kingdom. This was followed by a presentation of evidence and policy proposals by the Chair & President of the Global Health Policy Centre, Sweta Raghavan, on various issues influencing the growth of healthcare innovation such as the availability of financial support at various stages, existing gaps in government policy and the current state of the market.
The main outcomes of the seminar were as follows:
- The lack of support for healthcare professionals from governmental bodies and the NHS to pursue innovation. Despite having the NHS innovation accelerator, healthcare professionals often lack important basic knowledge of the various aspects of entrepreneurship. This is further compounded by the lack of flexibility in minimum work hours for healthcare professionals within the NHS which means having to choose between a problem riddled environment providing stable income and a riskier venture offering bigger opportunities and potential to solve the problems experienced within NHS.
- The education system needs to support innovators and provide knowledge about innovation and entrepreneurship to drive individuals to pursue their ideas as well as to drive the society to support such actions. Universities can support next generation innovators through implementing entrepreneurship classes and nurturing students with innovative and creative ideas.
- The difficulty in finding expertise is a major concern. Creating a platform connecting the right/referred people for start-ups and small companies could bring accelerated productivity and minimise costs and time spent on looking for support and advice.
- The lack of good tailor made business models often provide start ups with a massive wall in the process down the pipeline. The various exit routes or pipeline development has to be well thought about prior to executing the idea. Novel out of the box business models can propel growth of this industry.
- While there is a growth in the support for innovation it is slow, unstructured and fragmented. Policies accelerating the growth and unification of innovation support centers in a structured manner will significantly help drive innovation within NHS.
Although the event started with three common key challenges, the discussion covered other challenges. Distinct individual expertise in the medium-sized group offered a good variety of perspectives to the topics discussed. It allowed a constructive discussion towards a common accepted solution, and was led with focus by the chair.
Such events are always valuable for everyone, regardless of experience, background or discipline. Everyone will gain and grow from each other and contribute to addressing the problem in a constructive manner. Furthermore, the event also provides a great platform to network and bring various expertise together to tackle current local and global issues. A challenge for the masses needs to be tackled by the masses.
Hoyin Lam is the Business Development Director at Innovation Forum London and a PhD Candidate in Life Sciences at King’s College, London.
Pahini Pandya is PhD Candidate and President of King’s College London Innovation Forum.