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  • Emerging technologies can revolutionise healthcare but people must remain at the centre of design and delivery
  • Personal health budgets and other forms of personalisation must be at the centre of healthcare delivery

Nesta, the innovation charity that pioneers people-powered and data-driven approaches to health, care and wellbeing, has today welcomed the Government’s commitment to better use of technology as part of the NHS Long Term Plan.

The charity supports plans outlined in the Government’s announcement to bring the NHS into the digital age by embracing new technology including digital GP surgeries, genomic testing, and using artificial intelligence for early detection of disease.

Nesta also welcomes the inclusion of greater personalisation of healthcare, such as through the expansion of personal health budgets which allow citizens to be supported, listened to and enabled to take an active role in their health.

On the use of technology, Halima Khan, Executive Director of the Health Lab at Nesta, said:

“There is huge opportunity in using technology in healthcare, from artificial intelligence that spots diseases early, to 3D printed limbs that offer better and cheaper functionality than traditional prosthetics, as well as drone deliveries of organs and sharing of useful data.

“However, badly-designed technology can be dehumanising and a barrier to good healthcare. So the government must ensure that these innovations are designed and used to give people greater control over their health and data, rather than less.

“Designed well, artificial intelligence could make diagnosis quicker and easier - freeing-up valuable time and resources for in-depth consultations and a focus on more complex cases. However, designed badly, AI could make mistakes and cut humans out of the loop. Many people are understandably concerned and the risks need to be actively managed. The NHS must ensure that the first test of any technology is whether it puts patients and clinicians at the heart of healthcare, not sideline them in the name of efficiency.”

On the expansion of personal health budgets, Halima Khan said:

“We have built a strong body of evidence that supporting people to have more control and choice over their healthcare improves outcomes. People who are closest to the delivery of healthcare, both citizens and frontline professionals, must play an active role in shaping it as much as possible. As well as being common-sense that those who are at the sharp end have clear ideas about how to improve things, we can clearly see that it creates positive value for people, for communities and for the NHS as a whole.

“We welcome the expansion of personal health budgets. However, personalisation shouldn’t stop at personal health budgets, and effective community organisations should be supported to become an integral part of how people improve their health, care and wellbeing.

“For a truly personalised healthcare system citizens must be genuinely listened to and supported, rather than this being another ‘tick box exercise’ or hoop to jump through. This will require a shift in the skills and behaviours of some healthcare professionals.

“We look forward to working with the government and others to empower people to improve their health, care and wellbeing.”


Nesta Press Office - Will Hoyles, [email protected], 07812 362714

Halima Khan is available for interview and we are able to arrange visits to examples of people powered healthcare initiatives such as those case-studies below.

Nesta is a global innovation foundation. We back new ideas to tackle the big challenges of our time, making use of our knowledge, networks, funding and skills. We work in partnership with others, including governments, businesses and charities. We are a UK charity that works all over the world, supported by a financial endowment. To find out more visit

Nesta is a registered charity in England and Wales 1144091 and Scotland SC042833.

Since 2010 Nesta has worked closely with government and partners in the voluntary, community and social enterprise sector to fund new approaches, design policy options and build the evidence base underpinning this ‘people powered health’ approach. In July 2018 Nesta published its ‘Seven wishes for the NHS on its 70th birthday’ many of which have come true in the NHS Long Term Plan -

More details about Nesta’s People Powered Results team can be found at

Case studies

Salford Dadz

The Salford Dadz programme, which Nesta helped to support, found that for every pound spent putting citizens in charge of their health and improving the wellbeing of dads, and through that their children, around £3 was saved by children’s services and around £13 of wellbeing value was created for the fathers themselves.


GoodSAM is a project and app that can be triggered by emergency service workers to alert trained first aiders to an emergency near them. Nesta has been supporting GoodSAM through our Accelerating Ideas programme and it is now integrated into most ambulance services in the UK and has over 40,000 responders registered globally.

Lambeth Living Well Network

Supported by Nesta’s People Powered Health team, Lambeth Living Well Network brings together people from across service delivery, including the NHS, local authority, voluntary sector, housing associations and others to collaborate with service users and as a result has improved mental health care outcomes.

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