NHS England has finalized and expanded a delayed initiative designed to accelerate uptake of medical devices, diagnostics and digital products that save the healthcare service money.
Through the MedTech Funding Mandate, NHS England aims to ensure all parts of the healthcare system are aware of the benefits of certain medical products and able to access them.
The program was due to go live in April 2020 with three supported products. With COVID-19 causing NHS England to miss the original date, officials have added a fourth product to the roster ahead of the revised April 2021 start.
The initiative is the result of a review of the barriers to the adoption of devices and diagnostics in England. The review found a lack of awareness of new products among providers of healthcare services is one barrier. Among people aware of and interested in a product, existing procurement frameworks and reimbursement mechanisms provide additional barriers.
The MedTech Funding Mandate is designed to address those barriers. By naming products expected to offer particular value to the healthcare system, the scheme could raise awareness of technologies. The named products will be supported through mechanisms intended to facilitate access.
Officials sought feedback on the idea late in 2019 with a view to starting the initiative in April 2020 but the need to focus healthcare resources on COVID-19 delayed the go-live date. Now, NHS England has published details of the consultation responses and set out its plans for the delayed start of the initiative.
Originally, NHS England planned to include three products in the scheme in its first year, namely Quidel and Roche’s placental growth factor-based preeclampsia tests, Interrad Medical’s SecurAcath for securing percutaneous catheters and HeartFlow’s eponymous device for estimating fractional flow reserve. NHS England estimated including the products in the scheme could save the health system £20 million ($27 million) over five years.
The delay enabled NHS England to add a fourth product to the scheme. The product, electroCore’s migraine and cluster headache treatment gammaCore, only received a positive publication from healthcare cost watchdog NICE around when the consultation began, rendering it ineligible for the planned first year of the scheme. The delay enabled officials to evaluate and add the non-invasive device.
All four products are the subjects of positive publications by NICE, predicted to save the healthcare service more than £1 million over five years and expected to cost less than £20 million a year. The products must also be forecast to generate a net saving in their first year of use. Most respondents to the consultation rejected the first year saving criteria but NHS England chose to retain the requirement. From April 2022, products will only need to be cost-saving over their first three years.