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Why is innovation needed?


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Our healthcare systems must leverage data and digital technologies to improve the outcomes for and experience of patients and their carers. This can also help to support healthcare staff. The introduction of digital technologies to enable health services is a priority in the NHS Long Term Plan. Technology plays a central role in helping clinicians use the full range of their skills and reduce bureaucracy. It can stimulate research and enable service transformation. Digital technologies can also empower patients and carers to manage their health and care.


Several UK Government papers highlight the importance of NHS data and clinical infrastructure to the life sciences industry. Increased collaboration between the NHS, academia and industry is needed to maximise the benefits to patients and the healthcare ecosystem with investment in the sector. For example, in 2022 the UK Government’s Data Saves Lives strategy followed the 2020 National Data Strategy, with a focus on health and social care. It set out seven priority areas of action for the NHS to improve use of data to benefit individual patients, population level health, service planning and improvement, and research and innovation.

The DRIVE unit provides a one-stop-shop for expertise, advice and signposting that can turn new ideas into reality. The work of the DRIVE unit aligns with national ambitions, including developing technical infrastructure to harness the power of data in electronic patient records.


The unit has been cited as a leading exemplar within the NHS and attracted support from senior stakeholders across the NHS, academia, and industry. The Topol Review published in 2019 by Health Education England specifically endorsed this as a model for multi-disciplinary research data collaboration and rapid development and evaluation of new technology.

Since its establishment in 2018, the DRIVE unit has gone from strength to strength in its mission to advance the use of data and digital technologies for the benefit of patients and their families, healthcare staff and the healthcare system.

The DRIVE unit provides a strategic way forward and aims to:

  • Embrace new ideas to explore digital technologies that could improve patient outcomes and experience.

  • Enhance digital connectivity to improve access to and embed the use of data at all points of care.

  • Be the ‘go-to’ centre for paediatric innovation and foster collaborations between GOSH, industry and academic partners so children and young people can benefit at our hospital and beyond.

To achieve these aims our team has focused on:

  • Embedding a culture of innovation through an Innovation Hub for ideas generation and proof-of-concept testing.

  • Expanding GOSH’s digital research capabilities to facilitate clinical and academic data innovation projects, including across multiple sites.

  • Establishing a partnerships discovery team to expand our collaborations across sectors.

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