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Lucy Orr-Ewing

2023–24 U.K. Harkness Fellow; Head of Strategy for the Federated Data Platform Programme, NHS England

Photo, headshot of Lucy Orr-Ewing

Placement: Stanford University

Mentor: Sara J. Singer, M.B.A., Ph.D., Professor of Medicine, Department of Medicine, Stanford School of Medicine; Professor, Stanford Graduate School of Business (by courtesy); Professor, Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies (by courtesy); Stanford Health Policy Associate, Stanford School of Medicine

Co-mentor: Nirav R. Shah, M.D., M.P.H., Senior Scholar, Stanford University School of Medicine

Project: An Investigation of Approaches to Improve the Adoption and Efficacy of Patient-Facing Digital Health

Lucy Orr-Ewing is a 2023–24 U.K. Harkness Fellow in Health Care Policy and Practice. She is currently the head of strategy for the Federated Data Platform Programme, the UK’s largest investment into its data infrastructure. Prior, she was chief of staff to the director of technology policy for the National Health Service (NHS) in England and the NHS and the Department of Health and Social Care, where she convened more than 200 portfolios of work into one strategy, the Digital Health and Care Plan, and delivered the NHS’ first HealthTech Summit. Orr-Ewing is an active advocate of digital health and its potential to alleviate financial and capacity pressures, and to deliver affordable, equitable access to care: as an evaluator for Digital Health London’s startup accelerator program, an advisor to early-stage HealthTech ventures, a convener of a Women in HealthTech community, and a member of multiple government advisory groups. Before joining the NHS, she focused on building digital ventures, including her own, FastFutures, a digital skills program that supported more than 10,000 underrepresented young people into work. She is particularly interested in improving collaboration between the public and private sector and is committed to enacting policy and behavioral change for innovation to have its greatest impact.

Project Overview: For more than a decade, digital technology has promised to improve many aspects of health and social care provision and to transform a sector that is increasingly struggling with the need to do more with less funding. If implemented effectively, digital health offers opportunities for: the system to scale limited resources; providers to reduce their costs; improved patient outcomes; individuals to improve their user experience and be empowered to manage their own health; and allow more equitable and universal access to quality health and care for underserved populations. But despite considerable progress attributable to the pandemic, and unprecedented investment into the sector (2021: $29.1bn globally), digital health adoption remains variable.

This research will take a strengths-based and case study approach to evaluating the positive outliers of successful digital health adoption, primarily analyzing U.S. health systems’ uptake of digital health therapeutics (DHTs) and drawing in best-in-class global examples when appropriate. This study will examine which regulatory, assessment, incentivization, and adoption support policy interventions have resulted in higher uptake of DHTs, and will analyze and propose, where possible: strategies and approaches for integrating technology and innovation more effectively into clinical workflow and patient pathways; novel approaches for cost-effective evidence generation (for the evidence base to be a compelling change impetus for commissioners, clinicians, patients); optimal state or federal health-tech assessments; and a closer correlation between DHT venture funding and clinical robustness.