To be able to complete a cost-benefit analysis or budget impact model you will need to understand the current system and costs of care, as well as the total costs (both product, training, consumables, disinvestment from current tech etc).

So how do you do it?

Introduction to health economics:

To be able to complete a cost-benefit analysis or budget impact model, you will need to understand the current costs that the healthcare system experience in relation to the problem you are solving.

These costs can relate to the current healthcare system, the pathway to and delivery of care, and any impact costs that may occur from starting to use your product or service (such as product costs, training, and disinvestment from current technology).

Good resources to identify the current pathway and costs into the system include:

  • Peer-reviewed journal papers.
  • NHS Improvement and NHS Digital documents and databases (including Health Episodes Statistics, NHS Tariff and NHS Reference Costs).
  • NICE guidance and assessments of related technologies.
  • Patient advocate organisation reports, e.g. the Cystic Fibrosis Trust’s annual registry reports.

To learn more about health economics and for information on how to conduct your own health economics assessment please review this guide from SEHTA. NICE have also produced a budget impact template as part of the digital health standards.

Introduction to procurement:

The five main routes to market for companies interested in supplying the NHS are through:

  • Selling direct to trusts or primary care organisations
  • Selling through the new NHS Supply Chain
  • Selling through collaborative purchasing arrangements
  • National framework collaborations and contracts
  • Government tenders and contracts

You can learn more about these different routes here.

There are benefits and drawbacks to each of these routes to market but the key thing to remember is that NHS organisations have to follow public procurement law. This is both an opportunity and barrier to SMEs. This can be an opportunity because it will allow you to bid for contracts to sell your goods and services or a barrier because it means a contracting authority may not be able to give you a contract directly without seeing what else the market has to offer.

Here are a few top tips when working with procurement and NHS supply chain from Eastern AHSN:

  1. Product evaluations: Each Trust or provider will probably want to conduct their own product evaluation, even if the product has been peer reviewed, or successfully evaluated at other Trusts.
  2. Business Case: Following a successful product evaluation, a business case is prepared by relevant general managers and clinicians, depending on the organisation or provider. In addition to a description of clinical benefits and impacts, the business case typically requires details of whole life costs of the product, maintenance requirements and training provision. If requested, some of the content for the business case (e.g. financial impacts) may come from the company itself.
  3. No Guarantee: Please be aware that even if an NHS organisation trials your product, and it is very popular with a clinician, there is still no absolute guarantee that your product will be purchased. Due to the tendering process there is also a chance that others may submit quotes.
  4. Decision to Buy: Be aware that the clinician/procurement team rarely make the ultimate decision to buy a product. Instead, it is likely that a business case for the product will go to an Investment Approval committee, who will also consider alternative products.