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SHIL Frailty Innovation Call is now open

As people live longer with age and more complex health conditions, identifying new solutions and approaches to ensure a better quality of life is vital. Scottish Health Innovations Ltd (SHIL) is seeking innovative ideas from health and social care professionals that can help transform the quality of people’s lives, while helping NHS Scotland adapt to the changing demographic and increase in service use as people become frailer.

"Frailty is one of the greatest challenges the NHS in Scotland faces because of the changes to the national demographic. We need to adapt, so we not only survive but we continue to thrive."
Dr Iain Morrison of Newbattle Practice, Midlothian

Although frailty is most commonly associated with older people, it is not defined by age and can apply to younger people living with chronic conditions, and covers a range of disease and clinical specialities. The innovation call is open to anyone working across NHS Scotland and harnesses the talent, expertise and first-hand experience of health and social care professionals.

"This new innovation call builds on the success of previous calls, recognises the insight and expertise of health and social care professionals and offers dedicated support to drive forward their innovative ideas."
Graham Watson, Executive Chairman, SHIL

Ideas may range from wearable tech that could predict falls in vulnerable people, assistive technology to make daily life or a specific task easier, a device or tool to help people self-manage their condition or diagnostic devices to simplify home monitoring of conditions. Ideas may be simple or complex; from any NHS health board and any role or medical discipline; with a dedicated package of innovation support to accelerate the most promising innovations.

A package of support for health and social care staff with ideas to support NHS Scotland:

  • up to £25,000 of initial funding
  • regulatory support
  • project management
  • innovation expertise

Submit online now via www.shil.co.uk/submit

The process takes 5-10 minutes and all submissions are confidential.

How many projects will be supported?
No set limit, the intention is to rapidly assess all submissions and fast track those with potential. Frailty is a key priority area for NHS Scotland and we want to harness the talent and experience of all those working in the NHS to help improve the quality of life for people as they live longer and with complex health conditions.

What ideas are you looking for?
All ideas are welcomed – from simple to complex, from all disciplines and any member of staff. It could be a medical device to prevent falls, a piece of technology, software or service offering; it could support diagnostics, home care, hygiene or help people with age-related or ongoing health issues.

Why has frailty been chosen?
The three NHS Scotland innovation hubs (North of Scotland, West of Scotland and Health Innovation South East Scotland) were tasked with identifying key topics which would form the basis of a shared voice on areas of need across NHS Scotland. This would in turn inform approaches to innovation including SBRI calls, developing relationships with industry partners; and the SHIL call to health and social care professionals sits as a complementary part of this.

Developing new innovations to help people live well in later life or live with chronic long term conditions is important.  Frailty is a huge challenge for the NHS and applies to older people generally but can also apply to people living with long term health conditions. It is progressive and the demand on health services are set to increase as people living longer. It’s under this umbrella of frailty that we are seeking innovative ideas and inventions. In Scotland approximately 35 per cent of the population over 65 years are mildly frail, 15 per cent are moderately frail and five per cent are severely frail.

What funding is available?
SHIL is offering initial and rapid ‘kick start’ funding allowing promising innovations to be fast-tracked with additional funding leveraged as needed to support development, testing or manufacture. SHIL have years of experience in leveraging additional funds from organisations such as Scottish Enterprise, Innovate UK, EU and private investment community. 

SHIL can offer funding and support for NHS projects and our focus is making new devices available via commercialisation. This ensures not only the best new healthcare products actually reach the market and improve patient outcomes but also creates some profit for the inventor and their health board employer.

Can the general population put an idea forward?
In simple terms, yes. SHIL has worked in partnership with NHS Scotland since 2002, protecting and supporting NHS initiated ideas, but we also assess and support ideas from students, members of the public, start-ups, SMEs and established companies that would benefit from collaboration with the NHS.

Do NHS staff have time right now?
Innovation is central to the improvement of patient care. It’s true that the NHS has been under extraordinary pressure in recent times, but it is always keen to adapt and thrive in new areas of research and development. The innovation call is a direct response to professionals who identified frailty as a key priority going forward. Solutions can be simple or complex and from all disciplines. A simple online submission form captures the idea and then the team at SHIL (Scottish Health Innovation Ltd) will drive this forward. The team has always worked in this way, collaboratively with health professionals, managing projects that would otherwise be difficult to balance with personal or clinical commitments.

How long until proposed solutions will be available/used?
This will vary by project and depends on many factors e.g. complexity, stage of development, funding requirements.

What are the stages?
SHIL has an established national innovation pathway but has the capacity to act quickly on innovation. The initials steps couldn’t be easier. You can make a submission by applying on the SHIL website – www.shil.co.uk

There is a short 3-step online submission that requires you to submit your basic information, the concept, and then you can submit your idea for consideration by a range of experienced professionals within health research and regulation.

Who will choose/assess?
SHIL will assess and support selected innovations from concept to the final product. The innovation team have years of experience evaluating ideas from health professionals.

What is the assessment criteria?
An established evaluation process exists including the viability of the idea, regulatory considerations, market assessment, commercial feasibility, clinical evaluation and technical considerations. These will be flexible and proportionate to the urgency and need for innovation

What other support is available?
The SHIL team are operating remotely. The innovation team cover the whole of Scotland and are available via email or mobile to support as required. Useful resources are also available via the SHIL website.

Chronic asthmatic Oliva Fulton was forced to give up a promising career in nursing and a love of sports when her condition became too difficult to manage.

She said her life has been turned upside down when she realised she would never be able to work again; and has welcomed the latest innovation call by Scottish Health Innovations Ltd (SHIL) to identify new and innovative solutions to help people live well with chronic long term conditions such as asthma.

“I feel asthma is often over-looked as a chronic long term health condition - even though it kills three people a day in the UK.

“You can tell if someone has COPD but not if they have asthma because generally, they don’t look ill. It’s like an invisible condition unless it affects you but I’ve had many ‘knife edge’ stints in intensive care.”

To keep on top of her severe persistent asthma, Olivia must take up to 38 treatments a day, which includes a combination of steroids, nebulisers and inhalers, as well as a range of other drugs due to knock-on diseases. It's a far cry from her days dashing around the lacrosse pitch for Scotland, racing down the ski slope and putting in the birdies for her golf team. Life changed after a bout of pneumonia scarred her lungs during a gap year in Canada when she was 18. Her battle with asthma has been a struggle ever since.

It forced Olivia to leave university in Winchester, Hampshire, and move back home to Edinburgh where she trained to become a nurse before beginning work on the renal ward at the city's Royal Infirmary.

“I am delighted that SHIL has launched this call because asthma has massively affected my quality of life. All options to improve the quality of life of those living with debilitating conditions is needed and as a nurse myself I understand the knowledge and expertise that exists within the NHS. It is reassuring to see a route for ideas from within the health service to be taken forward”

Olivia, who is treated at the Western General Infirmary in Edinburgh, has gone on to become an advocate for other asthma sufferers and work with Asthma UK.

“We need to adapt, so we not only survive but we continue to thrive” is the message from Dr Iain Morrison of Newbattle Practice, Midlothian. The GP practice has implemented MidMed, a dedicated GP-led service for their patients living at home with moderate or severe frailty (as identified by the electronic Frailty Index).

The aim of the service was to improve the value of care for their frail, older population. One full-time GP performed a Comprehensive Geriatric Assessment, adapted for primary care, and patients received direct access to appointments with the same GP, bypassing the current telephone/online triage system.

A dedicated GP works directly with 300 patients with excellent levels of patient and doctor satisfaction; plus a good reduction in A&E admissions and better continuity of care.

Dr Morrison highlights “Frailty is one of the greatest challenges the NHS in Scotland faces because of the changes to the national demographic. We all need to be thinking differently about how we respond to these challenges This might be a change in service such as the MidMed project we have implemented; but it might be an idea for a medical device, educational tool or piece of technology that helps people live longer with age and more complex health conditions.

“It is encouraging to see health and social care professionals being supported to come forward with new and innovative ideas to support this growing population.”

*many primary care groups such as GPs and dentists; or locums are service contractors to the NHS, as opposed to employees –  however SHIL can still provide support with further detail at https://www.shil.co.uk/who-we-work-with/nhsscotland