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What I Learned About NHS Healthcare Math During 5 Days at The Propel@YH US Bootcamp

Updated: Sep 9, 2022

(From Left to Right) Steven Robinson, Trade & Investment Associate, British Consulate General Houston; Eve Roodhouse, Chief Officer – Culture & Economy, Leeds City Council; Harrison Evans, Collaboration Manager, Nexus; Rachel Francine, Co-Founder & CEO, SingFit; Phil Weiner, Associate, LabReady; Leonard E. Weisman, President, LabReady; Tim East, Digital Navigator, YHAHSN; Eileen Weisman, CEO, Lab Ready; Nick Hex, Associate Director, YHEC; Neil Toner, Programme Manager – International, YHAHSN; Mayank Mishra, Co-Founder, Televeda; Jen Robson, Sector Manager Health and Life Sciences Trade & Investment, Leeds City Region Enterprise Partnership (the LEP); Janine Ellenberger, Co-Founder and Chief Medical Officer, Behavidence; Sarah Appleby, Business Development Manager, ORCHA; and Sarma Velamuri, Co–Founder and CEO, Luminare.

In March 2022, Musical Health Technologies (where I am founder and CEO) was invited by the Yorkshire and Humber Academic Health Science Network (YHAHSN) to attend the first Propel@YH US Bootcamp. The YHAHSN is part of the research arm of the National Health Service (NHS) in the United Kingdom.

For one week in the city of Leeds in the county of Yorkshire, five American companies got a crash course in getting our solutions adopted by (meaning sold into) the NHS, which accounts for 85% of healthcare services in England, Scotland, Wales, and Ireland. The YHAHSN has been holding a similar nine-month bootcamp for UK companies and has successfully compressed the insights, information, and introductions into five days. SingFit and four other American companies were chosen for this curated bootcamp in part because our missions are aligned with the existing priorities of the NHS.

(Left) Matt Whitty, Chief Executive Accelerated Access Collaborative and Liz Ashall-Payne, CEO and Co-Founder of ORCHA

From the nine-month bootcamp the YHAHSN holds for UK companies to the five-day bootcamp they put on for us Yanks (they never called us that), I’ve condensed this information to five (more or less) bullets on what a startup will want to explore should they consider expanding to the UK.

1. Understand the NHS Has Articulated National Priorities

In the US, it is often difficult to discern the top priority for a buyer in terms of conditions treated, payment models, or desired outcomes. This is not so in the UK because the NHS priorities and operational guidance are listed here. If your solution fits (or can fit) into one or more of these priorities, it has a better chance of gaining more traction at a somewhat faster rate because these initiatives receive extra funding. The current solutions offered through our SingFit digital health platform fit into several categories—including F. Improve Mental Health Services, G. Population Health/Preventive, and H. Exploiting Digital Technologies—so we will continue to focus on these categories for our UK launch.

2. Get Your Healthcare Math Right for the UK

I’ve run this equation past several of the NHS partners at the bootcamp who have signed off on the general high-level math, and it goes like this: Does your solution provide better or equal care to more people at a lower cost than the current standard of care? That, my fellow tech companies, is the healthcare math the NHS in the UK will want you to prove in order to adopt your solutions. While this may seem logical, it is not typically the entire equation in the US. The majority of buyers of innovation will also require an additional measure that shows how your solution will make them money since healthcare is a for-profit business on this side of the pond. And while it is true that cost savings can influence purchasing decisions in the US, the savings tends to need to be greater and more emphasis gets put on switching costs.

Don’t get me wrong, getting the various NHS stakeholders to actually sign a purchase order isn't necessarily that straightforward because regardless of stateside or other international success, NHS buyers will want to see the solution work within the UK.

3. Do a UK Based Pilot Study

Here comes the trickiest part. No matter where your solution is already rolled out, NHS buyers will almost certainly want to see it in action and tracked in a UK setting with metrics that match up with healthcare goals by condition and the “side benefits” (see below). Depending on the nature of intervention (i.e., Is it invasive? Does your intervention make a diagnosis? Is it recommending specific care options, or does it digitize therapy that is already widely accepted as safe?) you will need different types of studies. That said, even for solutions like SingFit, where the general premise is already accepted in NHS literature, a feasibility pilot showing that your intervention can be implemented successfully into an NHS workflow is still key. We are incredibly fortunate that SingFit and how it fits within the social prescribing system of the UK—which is now, as we found out in Leeds, going to be more closely integrated with the healthcare system, aka hot goss—was chosen as the subject of a PhD study at Glasgow Caledonian University in Scotland just over two years ago. We are very excited to announce that the results of that study are expected to be released in January 2023. That said, the more studies the better (hint, hint, potential UK-based pilot partners looking to improve the health and wellbeing of people through expertly prescribed therapeutic music).