The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) has launched new standards setting out the requirements needed to develop digital health technologies for the NHS.
These technologies - healthcare apps and wearable devices used in the health and care system - have the potential to empower patients, allow more convenient care, reduce numbers of appointments, and help patients who may be isolated from standard care. They are often highly scaleable with marginal cost.
With digital technologies developing at an increasing pace, NICE's latest standards will ensure that new technologies are "clinically effective and offer economic value". The framework was commissioned by NHS England and developed in collaboration with Public Health England, MedCity and DigitalHealth.London.
So, what is the aim of these standards? The standards make it easier for innovators and NHS commissioners to understand the levels of evidence needed to accurately assess the effectiveness and cost impact of digital health technologies while meeting the needs of the health and care system, patients, and users.
Structure of the evidence standards framework
The framework has three components:
- Evidence for effectiveness standards, based on the functional classification of the digital health technology for its intended use(s).
- Evidence for economic impact standards.
- Educational, signposting, case study and other supporting resources (being developed for planned publication in early 2019).
The evidence standards describe the evidence needed for digital health technologies to demonstrate value in the health and care system. The framework is not designed to outline a comprehensive evaluation process for all digital health technologies; evidence will still need to be critically appraised on an individual basis.
The framework directly supports the relevant principles of the code of conduct for data-driven health and care technology published in September.
It is complementary to other tools and standards that exist or are being developed, including:
- The Digital Assessment Questions (developed by NHS Digital).
- Regulatory standards (developed by the Care Quality Commission, the General Pharmaceutical Council, the Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency and the British Standards Institute).
- Public Health England's public health profiles, providing health and wellbeing indicators to support commissioning and improve health and wellbeing.
NICE welcomes comment and feedback on the standards framework. You can share your views by completing the survey here.