AAR: moving beyond the vision
07 December 2016
As we covered in our recent blog, the awaited publication of the final report of the Accelerated Access Review (AAR) sets out a bold vision to drive the development and uptake of innovative medicines and health technologies in the UK. By setting out the conditions in which innovation can flourish, the AAR sends a clear signal that the Department of Health and other stakeholders within the UK healthcare ecosystem grasp the importance of encouraging health sector players to innovate and to see the benefits of innovation materialise in better and faster delivery of positive patient outcomes.
As well as setting out a vision, the AAR report also contains some suggestions for implementation. These include the immediate establishment of The Accelerated Access Partnership. Its role will be to drive forward the report’s recommendations, working closely with NHS England and NHS Improvement. Of particular importance will be the need to engage clinicians, and making sure that National Clinical Directors are able to play a role and influence how aspects of the program, for example the collection of real world data, are carried out within the NHS.
But there are likely to be other considerations that should be taken into account in order to move the program forward. Making sure that all the relevant stakeholders – including clinicians, government, pharma industry and academia – making up a highly complex and diffuse national health landscape are engaged and on board is essential. Their role in taking the practical steps that will help secure the transition from vision to reality must be taken into account as implementation moves ahead.
Uplifting the capabilities of the Academic Health Science Networks (AHSNs) is important, as the AAR report recognizes. But there’s a question mark over whether the amount of funding allocated to this will be sufficient. The relationship with the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR), too, is also likely to be key going forward but here, we see the need to make sure that any efforts are incremental; it should add to the excellent initiatives already in place. Another element of the current landscape, is how the negotiations of the Pharmaceutical Price Regulation Scheme (PPRS), while not in scope for the AAR, may be influenced by the implementation moving forward. Consideration should be given in how to structure the future PPRS so it plays a useful role in securing the goals of the AAR vision.
Ultimately, of course, the aim of the AAR is to secure better outcomes for patients. That means ensuring that as well as creating the conditions for innovation, the uptake of new products and treatments is also encouraged. Helping the UK to secure a role as a global innovation centre for new medicines, digital health and medical technology is one step. But it’s also vital that new products are taken up as widely as possible in order to create the returns that investors in new technologies will need. That means designing the right incentives to engage clinicians and, in addition, creating a willingness to explore innovative solutions by the Trusts who will have a major influence over whether the visionary goals of the AAR can be brought to life in practice. A cultural shift in how healthcare is practised is likely to be required to further embrace innovation.
We wait with anticipation for the implementation of the recommendations of the AAR to start; finding quick wins will be key to maintain momentum given the challenges and opportunities ahead.