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  • Lloyd Price

Sovereign Health Fund: time to unlock the potential £5Bn ARR asset based on unique NHS datasets?





Exec Summary:


Tony Blair and William Hague, former political rivals from opposite ends of the British political spectrum, have recently come together to propose a controversial plan that involves selling access to anonymised NHS patient data.


The Proposal:


  • Goal: To drive innovation in biotechnology and artificial intelligence (AI) in the UK, ultimately leading to the development of cutting-edge treatments and improved healthcare.

  • Method: Selling access to anonymized NHS medical records to private companies for research purposes.

  • Safeguards: Strong data privacy and security measures, with an independent oversight body to ensure responsible use of the data.


Arguments For:


  • Potential for medical breakthroughs: Proponents argue that access to a large pool of anonymized data could accelerate research and development in areas like personalized medicine, gene therapy, and AI-powered diagnostics.

  • Economic benefits: The proposal could attract investment and create jobs in the UK's growing biotech and AI sectors.

  • Improved patient care: The data could be used to develop new treatments and improve the efficiency of the NHS.


Arguments Against:


  • Privacy concerns: Critics worry that selling patient data, even when anonymized, could be a slippery slope that erodes individual privacy rights.

  • Commercial exploitation: There are concerns that private companies could exploit the data for their own profit, rather than focusing on public health benefits.

  • Lack of trust: Some people are skeptical of the government's ability to adequately protect patient data and ensure its responsible use.


The Debate:


The proposal has sparked a heated debate in the UK, with strong opinions on both sides. Some see it as a bold and necessary step to secure the future of the NHS and the UK's healthcare system, while others view it as a dangerous intrusion into patient privacy and a potential threat to public health.


Concept of a UK Sovereign Health Fund


The concept of a UK sovereign health fund based on NHS data is still in its early stages of development, but it has the potential to revolutionize the way healthcare is funded and delivered in the UK.


The fund would be a government-owned entity that would use NHS data to identify and invest in innovative healthcare technologies and services. This could include things like artificial intelligence-powered diagnostics, personalized medicine, and preventive care programs.


The fund would be funded by a combination of government grants and revenue from the sale of data to private companies. The data would be anonymized and aggregated to protect patient privacy.


Proponents of the sovereign health fund argue that it would be a more efficient and effective way to fund healthcare than the current system. They say that the fund would be able to identify and invest in the most promising healthcare innovations, and that it would be able to do so at a lower cost than the NHS.


Opponents of the sovereign health fund argue that it would be a step towards privatization of the NHS. They say that the fund would give private companies access to sensitive patient data, and that it would ultimately lead to higher healthcare costs for patients.


It is still too early to say whether or not a UK sovereign health fund will be created. However, the concept is gaining traction, and it is likely to be debated for many years to come.


Corporate Development for Healthcare Technology companies in EMEA


Healthcare Technology Thought Leadership from Nelson Advisors – Market Insights, Analysis & Predictions. Visit https://www.healthcare.digital 


HealthTech Corporate Development - Buy Side, Sell Side, Growth & Strategy services for Founders, Owners and Investors. Email lloyd@nelsonadvisors.co.uk  


HealthTech M&A Newsletter from Nelson Advisors - HealthTech, Health IT, Digital Health Insights and Analysis. Subscribe Today! https://lnkd.in/e5hTp_xb 


HealthTech Corporate Development and M&A - Buy Side, Sell Side, Growth & Strategy services for companies in Europe, Middle East and Africa. Visit www.nelsonadvisors.co.uk  



Advantages and Disadvantages of a UK Sovereign Health Fund:


Here are some of the potential benefits of a UK sovereign health fund based on NHS data:


  • Increased efficiency and effectiveness of healthcare spending: The fund would be able to identify and invest in the most promising healthcare innovations, which could lead to better outcomes for patients and lower costs for the NHS.

  • Accelerated development of new healthcare technologies: The fund would provide a source of funding for early-stage healthcare companies, which could help to accelerate the development of new technologies.

  • Improved patient outcomes: By investing in innovative healthcare technologies, the fund could help to improve patient outcomes and reduce the burden of disease.

  • Increased choice and control for patients: The fund could provide patients with more choice and control over their healthcare, by giving them access to new and innovative treatments.


Here are some of the potential drawbacks of a UK sovereign health fund based on NHS data:


  • Privatization of the NHS: The fund could give private companies access to sensitive patient data, which could lead to privatization of the NHS.

  • Higher healthcare costs for patients: The fund could lead to higher healthcare costs for patients, as private companies would be able to charge more for their services.

  • Data privacy concerns: There are concerns that the fund could be used to collect and sell patient data without their consent.

Overall, the concept of a UK sovereign health fund based on NHS data is still in its early stages of development. There are both potential benefits and drawbacks to the idea, and it is important to weigh these carefully before making a decision.




Case Study 1: Annemarie Naylor, ex-director of policy and strategy at Future Care Capital (FCC), a charitable health and social care think tank.


"A Sovereign Health Fund would be a “portfolio of data-driven investments that would recoup some or all of the value that we felt was tied to that data”. NHS data would be curated and placed in trusted research environments (TREs) around the country; third parties could apply to use the data to generate innovations, ensuring that a certain amount of any innovation’s returns flow into the state-owned fund and are ring-fenced either for investment into the health service or further research."


" As a policy answer, a Sovereign Health Fund has the potential to make data partnerships between the NHS and third parties both safe and hugely beneficial for future innovation and funding of the health service. What it will take from government is ambition but, above all, transparency. This policy can only gain support if the public is confident in the safeguards around their data and confident that fair value will be recouped and reinvested in the country’s health services."



Case Study 2: John Taysom, fellow at the Centre for Science and Policy at Cambridge university


"An opportunity has arisen, partly as a result of the information technology capability developed within the NHS to help defeat Covid-19. The NHS collects valuable and diverse patient data, which is stored within geographically distributed and legally federated trusts, each of which is separately governed. Newly developed safe data-sharing technology, deployed during the pandemic, now allows this to be shared between trusts and more broadly with researchers. This is vital in helping to save lives but it is also potentially a strategic national resource."


"The question is how such a fund might work. One possible legal structure to house the data could build on the work of the Ada Lovelace Institute and the AI Council (with input from the Royal Society), which have reported on what a “data trust” might look like. A cooperative could offer one attractive legal structure: all citizens are members and would share in any surplus generated, while the governance reports to the data subjects, not shareholders. This is a possible structure that enables the wealth generated to benefit the whole population; in addition to the health benefits and those of potential data-driven medical breakthroughs. I know that my data alone is worth nothing. The value lies in sharing safely."


"What could the revenues generated by using this data to help treat disease look like? The global drug development market is estimated to surpass $100bn by 2027. Value is created by speeding up drug discovery, helping establish safe drug delivery to disease sites, and accelerating ethical clinical trials. It has been estimated that curated NHS data could be worth £5bn per annum in perpetuity."



Case Study 3: Parliamentary Debate Briefing: this House takes note of the value of NHS and healthcare data and how it could be used to improve the health of our nation. House of Lords: September 6th, 2018.


"The value of health data is appreciating faster than the rate of increase in healthcare costs. However, realising their potential value represents a time-limited opportunity in a globally competitive market, and there is currently no clearly agreed strategy which sets out how the NHS and UK PLC intends to benefit from providing access to and/or usage of the data the NHS controls.


The UK Government could approach access to and usage of broad-ranging NHS data assets in a commercial manner to deliver impact across the nation through the establishment of a Sovereign Health Fund. When North Sea oil was first discovered, the British approach was to spend it as if it were additional tax revenue. In Norway, they established a Sovereign Wealth Fund into which the license fees from the oil revenues were accumulated.


Today, that fund approaches $1 trillion and it is used for the benefit of the Norwegian people. The UK Government should explore the scope to recycle financial value from the broad-ranging data assets the NHS controls to generate additional funds for healthcare R&D and/or healthcare provision to benefit individuals and improve the nation’s health long into the future.


A Sovereign Health Fund, wholly owned by the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care and operated akin to other sovereign wealth funds around the world, could be established in order to: 1: leverage the UK’s unique health data assets; 2: establish the UK as the go-to place, internationally, for healthcare R&D; 3: contribute to the growing cost of healthcare provision in the UK.


This is something that the new expert panel, chaired by former US President Obama’s chief economic advisor, Professor Jason Furnam, could perhaps look at as part of its work to examine competition in the UK’s digital economy





Sovereign Health Fund benefits for the NHS


The Sovereign Health Fund is a proposal to create a public-private partnership that would use NHS data to generate new insights and innovations in health care. The fund would be funded by a combination of government grants and private investment. The government grants would be used to curate and anonymize the NHS data, and to create the trusted research environments (TREs) where third parties could access the data. The private investment would be used to develop and deploy the new insights and innovations in health care.


The Sovereign Health Fund would be open to a wide range of third parties, including health care providers, technology companies, and academic institutions. Third parties would be able to apply to use the NHS data to develop new products and services, to conduct research, or to improve their existing operations.


The Sovereign Health Fund has the potential to revolutionize the way health care is funded and delivered in the UK. It could help to improve the quality and efficiency of health care, lead to the development of new treatments and cures for diseases, and help to address health inequalities. However, there are also some potential risks associated with the Sovereign Health Fund, such as the data being used to exploit patients or to discriminate against them.


It is important to carefully consider the potential benefits and risks of the Sovereign Health Fund before it is implemented.


Here are some of the specific benefits that the Sovereign Health Fund could bring to the NHS:


  • Improved quality of care: The Sovereign Health Fund could help to improve the quality of care by providing researchers with access to large datasets of anonymized patient data. This data could be used to identify patterns and trends in patient care, and to develop new treatments and interventions that could improve patient outcomes.

  • Reduced costs: The Sovereign Health Fund could help to reduce costs by identifying inefficiencies in the NHS. For example, researchers could use the data to identify hospitals that are overspending on certain treatments, or to identify patients who are at risk of developing chronic diseases. This information could then be used to improve the efficiency of the NHS and to reduce costs.

  • New treatments and cures: The Sovereign Health Fund could lead to the development of new treatments and cures for diseases. Researchers could use the data to identify new drug targets, to develop new diagnostic tests, and to design new clinical trials. This could lead to the development of new treatments that could improve the lives of patients with a wide range of diseases.

  • Addressed health inequalities: The Sovereign Health Fund could help to address health inequalities by identifying the factors that contribute to poor health in different communities. For example, researchers could use the data to identify areas with high rates of obesity, smoking, and poverty. This information could then be used to develop targeted interventions that could improve the health of people in these communities.

  • Created new jobs: The Sovereign Health Fund could create new jobs in the health care sector. For example, it would create jobs for data scientists, analysts, and software developers who would be needed to curate and analyze the NHS data. It would also create jobs for entrepreneurs who would develop new products and services based on the NHS data.


Overall, the Sovereign Health Fund has the potential to bring significant benefits to the NHS. However, it is important to carefully consider the potential risks of the fund before it is implemented.


Corporate Development for Healthcare Technology companies in EMEA


Healthcare Technology Thought Leadership from Nelson Advisors – Market Insights, Analysis & Predictions. Visit https://www.healthcare.digital 


HealthTech Corporate Development - Buy Side, Sell Side, Growth & Strategy services for Founders, Owners and Investors. Email lloyd@nelsonadvisors.co.uk  


HealthTech M&A Newsletter from Nelson Advisors - HealthTech, Health IT, Digital Health Insights and Analysis. Subscribe Today! https://lnkd.in/e5hTp_xb 


HealthTech Corporate Development and M&A - Buy Side, Sell Side, Growth & Strategy services for companies in Europe, Middle East and Africa. Visit www.nelsonadvisors.co.uk  




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