The AAC service and how it is transforming the NHS
Healthcare is facing several critical challenges, ranging from ageing populations to increasingly complex ailments, but innovation could play a key role in helping the sector overcome its myriad of threats, according to deputy director of AAC Matt Newman.
Accelerated Access Collaborative (AAC) is a service within the UK’s National Health Service that exists for two reasons: to get more proof-of-concept innovations into the hands of clinicians and patients, faster, and to transform the NHS into a place of innovation. But Newman has warned that the time it takes to deploy new technologies in the NHS can be extensive.
According the deputy director, AAC brings together key players in industry, government, regulators, patients and the NHS to unlock challenges and break down barriers to innovation and set national strategic priorities to make the UK the best place in the world to discover, test, trial and adopt new treatments and technologies.
Through its support programme from 2021-2022, Newman said the organisation has worked with over 2800 innovators, supported over 3000 innovators, secured nearly £450 million in investment into the UK and, in total, nearly 600,000 patients have accessed AAC supported innovations, resulting in 10,000 fewer days spent in hospital saving the NHS a total of £18.1m.
Since the global pandemic, healthcare leaders have expressed the cruciality of technology in industry and the AAC, along with other NHS services, is working to overcome major challenges in England’s public healthcare system.
“Covid-19 showed the potential for innovation and research to address the major challenges in meeting the future healthcare and leading health care needs of our aging population,” said Newman.
However, “Covid-19 isn’t the only pandemic that we’re currently experiencing.”
Newman stressed that there are a series of slow pandemics that impact lives every day, such as antimicrobial resistance, chronic conditions and cancer, and warned that the NHS is going need innovative solutions to address these.
One way of inspiring more innovative solutions, according to the deputy director, is through award programmes such as AI awards which the AAC provides to fund the development of tech start-ups in healthcare. One such company that won this award in the past few years is AI-powered imaging enterprise Brainomix.
Brainomix claims to provide new ways to deal with strokes by providing real-time interpretation of brain scans to help guide treatment and transfer decisions for stroke patients. Through the funding the start-up has now been deployed in five stroke networks across a total of 23 trusts.
Initially developed at the Royal Berkshire Hospital, Brainomix reduced the door-in-door-out time, which Newman claimed absolutely critical to the outcome following stroke, from 140 minutes to 79 minutes.
It also increased the number of patients who achieved independence following a stroke from 16% to 48% and has supported nearly 130,000 patients. Between 2022 to 2023, the AAC awarded over £19 million worth of funding to over 59 companies.
The AAC is also supporting UK drone tech start-up Apian, which was founded by a group of medical students from a trust in London.
According to Newman, Apian spotted a problem in healthcare that some chemotherapy drugs are difficult to transport. By using drone technology the start-up slashed the time it takes for these drugs to be shipped from Portsmouth to the Isle of White down from four hours to just 30 minutes
“It led to the world’s first chemotherapy drone delivery in July 2022,” Newman said.
“Not only does it demonstrate the best impact that innovation can have on patient care, it also continues to support the NHS’ net-zero goals.”
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