Health Enterprise East is launching an e-learning tool to give small companies and third sector organisations insight into how procurement works in the NHS.

The tool, called ‘understanding NHS procurement’ will be launched in January by the not-for-profit organisation.

Collette Johnson, project manager at Health Enterprise East, the NHS Innovation Hub for the East of England, told eHealth Insider: “We’re very excited about our current projects.

“We hope they will make a difference to companies in breaking into the market as well as helping NHS organisations and individuals.”

The organisation’s remit is to improve the development and uptake of innovative products and services in the NHS.

“Companies often have great ideas, but they don’t know how to portray that or who to talk to,” Johnson said. “I see myself as a translator between the two.”

HEE is also planning a bigger portal to act as a ‘one stop shop’ for companies who need information on the NHS and how to engage with it.

Johnson indicated that telehealth and telecare will be a focus for the new initiatives. HEE set up an assistive technology group in June, to air different views about the technology available and the best way to deploy it.

“It’s such a difficult area,” Johnson said. “There are a lot of things that need to happen with telehealth and getting companies and clinicians working together is one of the key things.”

She added that expectations also needed to change. “Telehealth is really important, but it won’t be the only answer. For some people it would be a real benefit but not everyone wants it and we need to accept that.

“Not one business model works for everyone. And in telehealth we don’t know what the business model that works is yet.”

She added: “A lot of organisations have piloted the same system but they don’t know of each other. We’re getting to the stage of talking to each other but there needs to be more communication.”

However, Johnson added she was very positive about telehealth and said people were starting to warm to it, with support from the Department of Health’s 3millionlives initiative to kick-start the industry.

“I’m really excited about what it can do, and about the 3millionlives campaign. Educating people leads to affecting culture and policy and that’s the big opening of the door. For that to increase we got to work in collaboration,” she said.

As well as providing consultancy services for companies, HEE works with 68 trusts across the East of England. Based at Papworth Hospital in Cambridge, the organisation provides advice, funding and support to NHS innovators to translate their ideas into practice.