Responding to health service goals to improve patient access to healthcare

We’re working at the forefront of the democratization of health. The digital health ecosystem gets a boost with the Novartis Biome UK.

September 7, 2021

Moving through the COVID-19 pandemic has put the spotlight on that data and digital is no longer just a promise in healthcare; we are transforming the way that we are interacting with not only physicians, but healthcare systems, and how we think about the patient journey.  

The UK’s Life Sciences Vision, recently updated with a ten-year strategy, is calling the life sciences sector to ‘build back better’ on the successes of COVID-19 response through digitisation and accelerate delivery of innovations to patients.

Guided by our purpose to unite the best of science and technology, the Novartis Biome UK, which is an integral part of Novartis UK, is committed to developing programs to specifically address the needs of the UK’s National Health Service (NHS). 

“At Novartis UK, we are dedicated to supporting the NHS in building back better from the pandemic, especially through the uptake of digital solutions to improve service delivery, research outputs and the overall patient experience. We know data saves lives, so we are harnessing its potential through the Novartis Biome, our digital innovation hub, where we are supporting innovative digital and data-led solutions to combat health inequalities, digitise patient pathways and advance remote care”, says Chinmay Bhatt, Managing Director of Novartis UK, Ireland & Nordics and Country President UK. 

Acting as a bridge between the resources and healthcare knowledge of the Novartis global organization, and the external health tech ecosystem, the Novartis Biome UK is part of a global network of innovation hubs which fast-track digital healthcare solutions to reach patients at scale.

“We currently have well over five million patients waiting for routine operations and procedures. How can we help the NHS address that challenge and how can we innovate at scale, fast?” says Konrad Dobschuetz, Head, the Novartis Biome UK.

We started out by transforming the organizational structure of Novartis UK to specifically address the needs of the NHS. Instead of being organized around five therapy area franchises related to products, Novartis UK now has two business units – one for national priorities regarding long-term planning for the NHS and the other for regional partnerships.

“In the UK, we are transforming our approach from being product-led to customer and patient-in, listening and responding to the real needs of the patients. Data and digital is a key element of this strategy, and the Novartis Biome UK – with its focus on digital innovation - is our doorway to partnering the NHS,” says Emma Hoglund, Head of Customer Solutions & Commercial Excellence, Novartis UK. 

We’re pursuing this challenge on three fronts. Firstly, Novartis Biome UK is partnering with various hospital trusts, Academic Health and Science Networks (AHSNs) and healthcare services in the NHS, to rapidly assess and select innovations that will create impact. Secondly, we are working with NHS partners and hospital trusts to co-create problem statements and solutions, to improve their ability to serve patients, improve access and boost service delivery. Lastly, we are acting as a catalyst between start-ups, the wider UK healthcare ecosystem and real-world challenges of the time. 

Moorfields momentum

Our work with the Moorfields Eye Hospital NHS Foundation Trust is an example of how we are addressing a specific NHS need - specifically, improving patient service, and gaps in patient education about the hospital and eye disease.

“The Novartis Biome is a significant way in which we can put our assets into the service of others – in this case, the UK’s NHS. We are offering a platform that converges data science, technology and artificial intelligence, together with our own assets, to tackle unmet patient need through innovation,” says Thorsten Rall, Global Head, Novartis Digital Transformation & Innovation.

“As a partner, we not only connect with other parties but also bring other parties together, so that collaboration works well – in the best interests of the patient and efficient healthcare delivery.”

We are currently working alongside Moorfields to source tech collaborators to build in patient education to an existing system, with the long-term goal to widen the development to many other eye clinics in hospitals.

“The new approach here is in co-creating the problem statement first and then the solution together with Moorfields. Rather than re-inventing the wheel, we are tapping into an existing solution to extend its reach and achieve our overarching aim, to further patient outcomes overall,” says Konrad. 

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A connector in the system

At the heart of delivering better patient outcomes through innovation is to connect key stakeholders. “We are continuously maintaining a pipeline of innovation, exploring new ideas with hundreds of start-up companies via our HealthHub Challenge. In addition, we have established the Enablement Network, a connection of companies, such as major tech players, investors, start-ups, the NHSx and ASHN, and other accelerators. Being at this crucial juncture is where the magic happens,” says Konrad.

Another answer is via the recently launched Novartis Evidence Lab, an industry-’s first-ever standardized, data-driven approach to rapidly pressure-test and validate digital health technologies directly with healthcare systems, healthcare professionals and patients - prior to scaling.

The Evidence Lab coordinates and delivers the critical data needed to decide whether to scale a solution, refine it, or pivot to an alternative. This evidence-based intervention de-risks solutions, and saves time, money and other resources.

There’s a growing global network of healthcare organizations partnering with the Evidence Lab to provide real-time healthcare settings to assess potential digital solutions. In the UK, 52 health trusts have signed up already via England’s AHSNs - and counting.

From the NHS perspective, it is a welcome option. Dr. Rishi Das-Gupta, now Chief Executive of the Health Innovation Network but formerly Chief Innovation & Technology Officer at Royal Brompton Hospital, was instrumental in onboarding the Royal Brompton to be part of the Evidence Lab testing network. “One of the ways in which we can improve healthcare, patient experience and outcomes is by the widespread adoption of digital technologies to support care through virtual networks linking healthcare professionals and patients. The Novartis Evidence Lab gives us and external partners the means to test and validate possible digital options, so that we can make evidence-led decisions on what might work best for patients and healthcare providers,” says Rishi. 

Moving forward, we will continue looking for partners as excited as we are to try to bend the curve of life. as we are. With the progress so far, the teams are well set-up to drive a much wider cross-industry collaboration to advance health outcomes.

Further information

If you have any questions or want to find out more, please contact Konrad Dobschuetz, Head, the Novartis Biome UK.