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NHS England launch their 4th Challenge competition

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NHS England launch their 4th Challenge competition

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Challenge style innovation contests are not a new thing, with the first said to be the Longitude Prize established in 1714 to try and find an accurate means of navigating at sea.  They have undoubtedly experienced a major revival in their fortunes in recent years however, as social technologies have made organizing and collaborating on them much easier and more effective.

Healthcare has been the focus of several of these challenges, with the Tricorder X-Prize arguably the most well known of them.  The National Health Service (NHS) have been doing their own challenges for a few years however, and recently announced the opening of their 4th annual competition.

Over the past few years, the challenges have uncovered innovations such as a bicycle paramedic team for quicker response times in London, and a means of improving the diagnosis of dementia.

The focus of this years Challenge will be diabetes, infection control and the use of technology in healthcare.  The prize fund is not in the X-Prize league, but with £650,000 available for contestants, is still substantial.  Winning entries will also receive non-financial support from the likes of 3M, Accenture, Health Fabric, the Allied Health Professions Federation and the Janssen unit from Johnson & Johnson.

This pastoral support will aim to both raise the profile of the winning projects and also to help secure their long term viability.  The organizations involved also hope to inspire consumers to get involved in the healthcare innovation process, and hopefully ensure better care can be provided at a lower cost.

NHS England believe that diabetes is a key issue to focus on because of its impact, both on the health of the nation, and on the resources in the NHS itself.

Jonathan Valabhji, national clinical director for obesity and diabetes for NHS England, said “there is no better candidate for our attention than diabetes. There is considerable scope for innovation to drive improvements in the way this disease is managed, with the potential both to save lives and to make significant cost savings for the NHS”.

Smaller prize funds are on offer for infection control, use of technology, digital patient and clinician engagement, plus a small ‘acorn’ prize fund for small ideas that could potentially make a big difference.  The challenge runs until November 7th, by which time all entries need to be in.

Finalists will then pitch their idea to a panel of experts on the 21st November, with the winners announced on the 8th January 2015.

This is the kind of project that the team at NHS Horizons are hoping to uncover as part of their regular magazine series The Edge.  The project is looking at those that are doing things in a different and innovative manner.  The venture is due to launch later this year.  Well worth checking out.

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