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The role of entrepreneurs in improving healthcare

The NHS is under strain: a growing and ageing population, combined with budget restraints and pressure on resources are all contributing to a situation where services are stretched and staff feel under stress.

But the NHS is also acutely aware that new technology has the potential to help relieve many of these pressures, while also supporting staff and helping them achieve better outcomes for patients.

At Brother we recognise that innovative entrepreneurs are developing disruptive new technologies that will enable new ways of working in healthcare.

So, in partnership with The Guardian, we invited a panel of experts from across the sector to debate the issue before an audience of healthcare professionals.

Key questions

The event looked to answer some of the key questions facing the NHS, like: Who are the digital entrepreneurs trying to do something about the situation? What innovations are out there? And what challenges do people face trying to introduce them into the NHS?

Panelist Harpreet Sood, associate chief clinical information officer for NHS England and a practicing NHS doctor, said that working with entrepreneurs was causing a shift in culture at the NHS that he believes will enable the organisation to solve some of the key problems that we face in healthcare today.

He said: “It is a journey, it’s not going to happen overnight and we have to be patient, but at the same time work with a great number of individuals, [including] people from outside the system to provide us with good insights, for us to all benefit from a good, robust sustainable health system.”

Phil Jones, managing director, Brother UK, said: “For many entrepreneurs there are many barriers to entry and you have to be pretty determined to get into the NHS and actually begin to provide new innovative solutions.

“It’s clear that there are some passionate people who will make this happen over time.”

And fellow panelist Mahiben Maruthappu, the London-based doctor and co-founder of Cera, which supports older people living at home, laid out some of the barriers that still exist to getting innovative new technologies into the NHS.

Big challenges

He said: “The big challenges are navigation – finding out who you need to be approaching if you’ve got a great innovation, awareness – making sure people know about it on the front line, such as nurses, doctors and managers, and finally adoption – getting people to actually use these technologies once they are aware of it.”

Nadia Masood, junior doctor and Justice for Health campaigner, said that entrepreneurs need to look at those pinch points in the NHS and focus their efforts where it can have the biggest impact.

She said: “Entrepreneurs really need to be looking at the needs of those who are working in the healthcare sector, streamlining technology, making it easier to use [and] making it more up to date.”

And Neomi Bennet, a registered nurse and the chief executive of Neo-Innovations UK, which has developed Neo-Slip, a product that aids the application of hospital and travel stockings, told the audience that the best ideas often come from front-line staff like herself, who have direct experience of the pressures in the NHS.

She said: “It’s about opening doors and going through barriers so hopefully more entrepreneurs will become role models for healthcare front-line staff who are trying to break through with ideas and solutions.

“Tech entrepreneurs have influenced healthcare by showing that determination and persistence can actually improve patient outcomes.”

Find out more about how Brother is helping reduce costs and improve efficiency in healthcare organisations by visiting our dedicated healthcare solutions hub.

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