Think Tank Urges Health Leaders To Ensure NHS Efficiency Savings Don’t Limit Investment In Innovation And Prevention

Think tank urges health leaders to ensure NHS efficiency savings don’t limit investment in innovation and prevention

•The UK is home to some of the world’s leading innovation in healthcare but we can learn from successes in USA, India, Australia, Africa and Europe

•ILC-UK urge health leaders to work to ensure that the £22bn savings being asked of the NHS act to stimulate not prevent innovation

The NHS should be supported to continue to invest in innovation in order to save more money in the long-term, argues a major new report ‘Creating a sustainable 21st century healthcare system’ by the International Longevity Centre – UK (ILC-UK).

‘Creating a sustainable 21st century healthcare system’, sponsored by EY, is the first report in ILC-UK’s SOS 2020 Health series. It highlights how a ‘perfect storm’ of demographic and wider economic and social trends are converging to push up the cost of healthcare across the globe. The report showcases examples of innovation from across the world which could save lives and money if introduced more widely.

The UK’s healthcare system provides a third of the exemplary case studies showcased in the report, but the report suggests that more work needs to be done to share and spread innovation in the UK, and that there’s much to learn from other leading markets such as India, Australia, Europe and the US.

The report points out that the 15 million people who have a long term health condition account for 70% of the total health and care spend in England. Yet across Europe, on average only 3% of healthcare expenditure is allocated to prevention and public health programmes.

The NHS is committed to achieving £22bn efficiency savings through productivity gains of 2% or 3% a year between now and 2020. The ILC-UK research has shown this target will be very challenging without real innovation. The OBR highlight productivity in the health sector only rose by around 1% per annum on average between 1979 and 2010.

The report suggests that a concerted focus on innovation and prevention – developing more empowered health consumers, whilst also maximising the potential of big data – would help to deliver significant savings in the long-term.

Phase two of the report, due out in 2016 will model the impact of applying the leading global innovations showcased in the first report to new markets to highlight the potential global savings of sharing innovation.

Baroness Sally Greengross, ILC-UK Chief Executive said “Whilst innovation can save money in the long term, it requires up-front investment. And the nature of introducing new or dual systems can mean that for the first few years costs go up and services don’t improve.

The picture is not as bleak as it may sound, however. Advances in health technology have the potential to significantly influence patient’s access to health care and the way that health care is delivered. Big data can revolutionise the way services are focussed on the individual.

But for us to maximise the potential we have to create a climate for innovation in the health service. We might also accept that if we are to innovate to reduce costs and improve services over the long term, public and private investment is vital. Government must ensure that the £22bn savings being asked of the NHS act to stimulate not prevent innovation.”

Shaun Crawford, EY Global Insurance Sector Leader said “This report has sourced a bank of robust innovative global case studies and innovations as a first step in developing verifiable models to deliver better health outcomes and reduced costs across the world at a time of growing pressure on our health care systems.”

Gary Howe, partner and UK health lead at EY, adds: “Empowering consumers and harnessing big data will be crucial to delivering long-term savings for the sector.”


Global health innovations

The ‘Stay on Your Feet’ programme in Australia is preventing falls among older people by targeting their knowledge, attitudes and behaviours, resulting in a 22% lower incidence of self-reported falls and a 20% decrease in fall-related hospitalisations.

Canterbury District in New Zealand has developed a vision of ‘one system, one budget’, bringing in experts to support clinicians to redesign care pathways and workflow. The result has been reduced admissions across acute care, as well as a 20% drop in nursing homes admissions.

Healthcare providers in South Central Pennsylvania  used ‘big data’ to identify ‘superutilisers’, then developed a coordinated care service for these people, resulting in inpatient admissions dropping by 34% after enrolment in the programme, equating to savings of $1,242,000 for 138 patients in 12 months.