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Guidance and glossary


Innovation scorecard overview

The Innovation Scorecard is an action taken from the Department of Health and Social Care's (DHSC) paper titled "Innovation Health and Wealth: Accelerating Adoption and Diffusion in the NHS" (IHW) published in December 2011.

Further information and the final report can be found on the IHW report webpage on the UK government website.

More recently, the Accelerated Access Review (AAR) makes a number of references to the development of the Scorecard.  In particular, it references the role in measuring the uptake of medicines and potential to measure other technologies. It proposes that the Innovation Scorecard should be the single source of information on the use of innovation in the NHS.

More information and the final AAR report can be found on the UK government website

The Innovation Scorecard aims to support and drive NHS compliance with the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) Technology Appraisals (TAs) and was designed to help the NHS identify variation which can then be justified, challenged or acted upon.

It is published by the NHS Business Services Authority (NHSBSA) on behalf of the Office for Life Sciences. The work is informed by collaborative working with colleagues from: the Association of the British Healthcare Industries (ABHI), Cabinet Office, DHSC, the NHS, NHS England, NICE, Office for Life Sciences, and the pharmaceutical industry.

National Institute for Health and Care (NICE) Technology Appraisals (TAs)

Technology appraisals (TAs) are recommendations on the use of new and existing medicines and treatments within the NHS. TAs can cover medicines, medical devices, diagnostic techniques, surgical procedures and health promotion activities.

Some medicines and treatments may be covered by more than one TA. Each technology appraisal may contain more than one recommendation. NICE classify their recommendations into four categories: recommended, optimised, only in research, or not recommended.


The medicine or treatment is recommended for use in line with the marketing authorisation from the European Medicines Agency (EMA) or from the Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency (MHRA). It can also be recommended in line with how it is used in clinical practice in the NHS, or both in line with marketing authorisation from EMA or MHRA and how it is used in clinical practice.


The recommendations have a material effect on the use of a medicine or treatment, and it is recommended for a smaller subset of patients than originally stated by the marketing authorisation. This test of materiality takes into account advice from clinical experts on the anticipated use of the technology in routine clinical practice. Sometimes, an optimised recommendation is made because the committee considers that a medicine or technology is only a cost-effective treatment option for a specific group of people, for example, in people who are resistant to or cannot tolerate other medicines.

Only in research

The medicine or treatment is recommended for use only in the context of a research study, for example, a clinical trial. Often, particularly for promising new technologies, sufficient clinical evidence has not been collected at the time of the appraisal and so the Appraisal Committee is not able to recommend the technology for use in the NHS until further evidence on its effectiveness is available for re-appraisal.

Not recommended

The medicine or treatment is not recommended. Generally, a technology will not be recommended if there is a lack of evidence for its clinical effectiveness or if the technology is not considered to be a cost-effective use of NHS resources, compared with current NHS practice.

The technologies included in a TA may not be the only treatment for the condition recommended in NICE guidance, or otherwise available in the NHS. Therefore, if a NICE TA recommends use of a technology, it is as an option for the treatment of a disease or condition. This means that the technology should be available for a patient who meets the clinical criteria set out in the guidance, subject to the clinical judgement of the treating clinician. The NHS must provide funding and resources when the clinician concludes, and the patient agrees, that the recommended technology is the most appropriate to use. This is based on a discussion of all available treatments.

Some medicines and medical technologies previously covered by TAs are now included in clinical guidelines or in best practice guidelines.

More information and guidance on NICE TAs and the technologies that are considered by NICE guidance other than the TA process can be found on the NICE website.

Data sources

The Scorecard includes a range of data from a number of sources which includes:

  • the English Prescribing Dataset (EPD) published by the NHSBSA
  • Secondary Care Medicines Data (SCMD) as supplied by Rx-Info and published by the NHSBSA
  • Hospital Episode Statistics (HES) data from NHS England
  • population data from Office for National Statistics
  • Defined Daily Doses (DDD) from World Health Organisation (WHO) Collaborating Centre for Drug Statistics Methodology
  • Assumed Daily Doses (ADD) from NHS England

Publication of the Innovation Scorecard

Publication schedule

From April 2024, the Innovation Scorecard is published by the NHSBSA, on behalf of the Office for Life Sciences.

The Innovation Scorecard was previously published by NHS England with the first release in January 2013. It was originally published on a quarterly basis. This has changed to the publication being released twice a year since October 2019.

Previous releases of the Innovation Scorecard are available online and can be found on the NHS Digital Website.

Technology appraisals (TAs) included in the Scorecard

A process for selecting the medicines and medical technologies for inclusion was developed to ensure a systematic approach for inclusion within the scorecard. The Strategic Metrics Group and Technical Working Groups agreed a series of criteria for including or excluding medicines, along with the reasons for any medicines excluded.

Inclusion criteria for medicines

The medicine will be included if it has a TA published from 2019 onwards, which is positively appraised by NICE. The date will move forward a year as part of an annual cycle starting with the October publication. TAs published before 2019, which are deemed to be innovative, will be considered for inclusion.

The medicine will be included if it has a TA from before 2019 but is of interest to the NHS. This may include those medicines which do not have widespread use across the whole service, for example, where there is unwarranted variation or where there is known significant therapeutic value.

The cut-off date for the inclusion of TA’s over the next year is:

Publication date Date TAs published from TA cut-off date Data up to
April 2024 January 2019 December 2023 December 2023
October 2024 January 2020 June 2024 June 2024

Exclusion criteria for medicines

A medicine will be excluded where a significant proportion of data is not currently available, for example, those medicines which can be purchased over the counter, dispensed through routes other than hospital or community pharmacies, and so on.

Where the medicine is not new and therefore, not considered to be innovative as the treatment would be well established already, it will be excluded.

A medicine will also be excluded if patient population is small and therefore there is a risk of identification when presenting the data.

Where inclusion of the data available is misleading or of limited value to the NHS, the medicine will be excluded.

Inclusion criteria for medical devices and diagnostics

Medical devices and diagnostics are currently excluded from the scorecard.

Inclusion criteria for the estimates report

The inclusion of estimates to show expected uptake versus actual uptake was first added into the scorecard in the September 2014 publication. The estimate approach requires its own criteria to determine which medicines should be selected for that methodology. The “Use of NICE appraised medicines in the NHS in England” report provides historical selection criteria for those medicines included in the estimate approach.

Potential data quality issues associated with the underlying data

Data volumes can vary between publications due to an issue known as backtracking in the secondary care medicines dataset. Backtracking is a process where pharmacy stock control systems alter historical volumes based on the stock issued.

On this basis data should be treated as provisional. Users should always use the figures in the latest publication to ensure they are the most up to date figures available. Further information is provided in the background quality report chapter of this publication.

Accessing trust formularies

The Innovation, Health and Wealth Strategy included a recommendation that all NHS organisations should publish information which sets out which NICE technology appraisals are included in their local formularies by 1 April 2013.

Formularies are available on individual trust websites. If you have any queries relating to the formularies you should contact the hospitals directly.

Definition of compliance

Compliance is subject to interpretation, and the measurement of compliance is not simple. An important aspect of this is consideration of the circumstances under which a medicine is administered or a medical technology used, and whether this aligns with the precise recommendations within the NICE guidance. The Innovation Health and Wealth: Accelerating Adoption and Diffusion in the NHS" (IHW) report sets out actions for the NICE compliance regime, so readers are advised to view this report.

The data presented here is insufficient to determine if an organisation is or is not compliant with NICE guidance.

Interpretation of the Innovation Scorecard

Information found in the Innovation Scorecard

The Innovation Scorecard should not be used for performance management. It is intended to identify where variation in the adoption of TAs may exist between healthcare organisations and for these organisations to understand, be challenged and explain any variation. This is based on the assumption that reduced variation will result in improved quality of care.

It is important to be aware that observed use of a medicine or technology may differ for a range of reasons and should not be assumed to definitely indicate either under-prescribing or over-prescribing, or implementation. It is recommended that any exploration of the variation uses a structure such as the pyramid of investigation for special cause variation.

In the pyramid of investigation for special cause variation, more likely explanations are listed towards the bottom of the pyramid. Therefore it is suggested that these are investigated first. The data presented in this publication requires careful interpretation and should be used in conjunction with other indicators and information from other sources that together form an holistic view of use of medicines and medical technologies.

For example, a medicine may not be the only treatment for a particular condition recommended in NICE guidance, or otherwise available in the NHS. Medicines are generally recommended as options for treatments. Other options may include non-appraised medicines or other appraised medicines. Therefore variation in the use of individual medicines would be expected.

Assessment of compliance cannot be made using currently available data.

Indicators of variation may be more appropriate for sub ICB locations than for Trusts, as medicine use in primary care is more likely to be for the management of common long term conditions. Some appraised medicines are used wholly or mainly in tertiary care hospitals. Other appraised medicines are more likely to be used in less specialist hospitals. A medicine which is used for a very rare condition, for example, tens of doses per sub-ICB location or trust per quarter, would normally be expected to show wider variation between organisations.

Variation in the use of medicines or medical technologies between NHS organisations may be due to a number of valid factors.

These can include:

  • natural variation in populations, both in demographic profile and disease prevalence
  • variation in presentation to the NHS by the relevant populations
  • variation in choice of preferred treatment option at the local level
  • variation in the use of alternative products or procedures
  • differences in the extent to which local utilisation information is available
  • differences in services provided between organisations, for example differences in the extent to which a service is provided by primary or secondary care
  • difference in levels of informed patient dissent to intervention

A detailed examination of the reasons for variation for individual technologies is beyond the scope of this report.

Comparison of data to different time periods

The publications show use of medicines over time. Data on the Innovation Scorecard is presented by calendar quarter which covers up to 5 years of data at the national (England) level and up to 2 years of data at lower NHS organisation levels. 

It is not appropriate to draw conclusions from direct comparisons of the data in each of the scorecards, as many factors may be responsible for any apparent variation. These include clinical and demographic issues such as differences in populations served, local prevalence of disease, services provided and changes in clinical practice.

There are some data issues associated with data from different time periods:

  • the NHS reorganisation has led to changes in the individual hospitals included in some hospital trusts, and there have been changes in the general practices included in some ICBs
  • data which has been standardised by finished consultant episode (FCE) days of hospital care (introduced in March 2014 publication) cannot be compared with data standardised by FCE bed days in previous publications

Organisational levels included in the Scorecard

Data in the Scorecard are presented in several ways based on available data at specific NHS organisation levels.

Data for medicine utilisation is reported at national (England), NHS region level, ICB, sub-ICB locations and trust organisation level where appropriate.

Comparing organisations

The web platform tool allows comparison of medicine use at sub-ICB location level and medicines purchased at NHS trust level. Additionally, maps presented on the tool show use based on quintile proportions. Data for all organisation levels are provided in the CSV files.

Trust level data and local hospital data

Data is provided at NHS hospital trust level. The majority of trusts are made up of a number of local hospitals.

Patient identification and disclosure control

Individual patients cannot be identified from the publication.

We are legally obliged to avoid disclosure of potential identification of individual patients by implementing suppression handling where required. 

Standardisation of medicines

NHS organisations differ widely in the populations they serve and so data which does not take this into account can be misleading.

For sub-ICB location, ICB, region, and national data the number of resident patients has been used to take account of the size of population served. 

For hospital trusts data the number of finished consultant episode (FCE) days of hospital care for the time period under consideration, taken from the Hospital Episode Statistics data, has been used to standardise the data. The values vary significantly, with more specialist hospitals, for example, Moorfields Eye Hospital NHS Foundation Trust reporting fewer than 40,000 days of hospital care per year, whereas larger Trusts such as Bart’s Health NHS Trust report over 700,000 days of hospital care per year.

Trust level data should not be compared with the national, region or ICB data.

This scorecard covers some highly specialised medicines and technologies so differences in use across organisations are to be expected.

Medicines presented as grouped medicines are also standardised either by resident populations, FCE days of hospital care or expected days of hospital treatment.

Estimating eligible patient populations

Data on the number of patients diagnosed with a particular condition, eligible for a specific intervention, or receiving an intervention may be recorded locally but are not reported centrally by the NHS. Therefore, the eligible population for any TA can be problematic to estimate.

To develop estimates of the eligible population, information is required to refine population numbers to the particular circumstances where the medicine is recommended by NICE. This information is from overall disease prevalence to the proportion of patients within a particular stage of a disease and then to the particular indication recommended by NICE.

In some cases further details are also required, for example, the proportion of patients likely to discontinue treatment or choose alternative treatments.

Limitations of data sources

The NHS currently does not have any robust data reporting or collection process which gathers data which can be used to measure compliance with NICE TAs.

The data sets used in this publication were developed for other specific purposes and are shown here to provide an indication of the implementation of NICE appraised technologies. Therefore users of the Scorecard should be familiar with the limitations of the data when used for this purpose.

Patients can receive medicines from the NHS by a variety of routes. The most common is to receive a prescription from their general practitioner or other community based prescriber, which is then dispensed by a community pharmacy. Hospitals also administer and supply medicines direct to patients.

However there are a number of other ways patients can receive medicines which may limit the coverage of centrally available data, and result in under-reporting of utilisation. 

Some of the main areas include where medicines are supplied directly to a patient without a prescription being issued or the supply being recorded in a system which supports central collection of data. Some medicines, for example, for smoking cessation or contraception, are supplied directly to patients from specific clinics, and this use does not appear in any central data collection.

Some mental health services or clinics purchase medicines and supply or administer them directly to patients without using a prescription, or order in such a way that relevant information is not routinely captured in national data sets.

Some urgent supplies of medicines are supplied directly to patients and this use does not appear in any central data collection. For example, supplies provided by ‘out of hours’ services.

There are also some known gaps in the central data collections. In homecare data, supplies of medicines are delivered directly to the patient’s home, and may not be routinely recorded on hospital pharmacy systems. This service is generally contracted to a commercial supplier by hospital trusts. The homecare market is a significant proportion of total medicines use in secondary care.

Some medicines are provided by an aseptic unit where the medicine has been individually prepared for administration to a particular patient. This data may not routinely appear in the hospital pharmacy systems.

Hospitals are increasingly using local commercial suppliers to dispense medicines to patients attending out-patient clinics and these supplies may not be routinely included in hospital pharmacy systems. This is known as outsourced dispensing.

Hospitals can contract with the private sector to provide specific care or administer specific medicines, which are not recorded in the data from the commissioning hospital. This is most commonly seen with particular medicines, such as ranibizumab, where specific monitoring is not required.

Some medicines are included in multiple TAs; and some medicines are licensed for other indications than those covered by TAs. The available datasets do not allow identification of utilisation by indication, therefore it is not possible to report use for a particular condition.

Medicine groupings

In January 2016, medicine groupings were introduced to the Innovation Scorecard. The medicine grouping methodologies have been developed by analysts and pharmacists at NHS England, ABPI, the Office of Health Economics (OHE), NICE and the Office for Life Sciences (OLS). All methods have been reviewed and agreed by the technical working group for the Innovation Scorecard.

These groupings have been developed to show combined use of medicines that are options for treatment of a specific condition, and where a TA covers more than one medicine for the same indication or two or more TAs cover the same specific condition. It is more informative to compare uptake of combined options for treatment than only showing uptake of the individual medicines. These groups only contain those medicines with a TA. Other options for treatment may be available but are not reported in the Innovation Scorecard.

Data for the medicine groupings is not comparable to the data published in previous Innovation Scorecard publications.

Assumed Daily Dose (ADD) is a prescribing measure developed for and introduced to the Innovation Scorecard.  When first introduced in January 2016, the measure was called an Actual Daily Dose. It was renamed to Actual Daily Dose from the October 2023 publication. ADDs have been developed where current prescribing measures, such as DDDs, are not available or representative of prescribing practices in England. 

Unlike DDDs that use a value for a drug (chemical substance), ADDs use a unique value for each presentation based on the actual dose likely to be taken. ADDs assign a unique value for each presentation of a drug based on units (tablets, capsules, patches etc.) and the recommended frequency of daily use (for example one a day, three times a day) The general assumption is that each dose is equal to a unit of each preparation.

​​​​​​The advantage of ADD is that a measure can be created that matches the prescribing patterns when a DDD has not been calculated. Another advantage is when the measure was created for a different indication. For example, a DDD for DOACs is based on utilisation in secondary care, but different doses of medicines are used in primary care that are not covered by the DDD.

The dose is also variable depending on age or a dose and hence presentation is specific to an indication. Therefore, different presentations of the same chemical are likely to have different ADD values whereas a single DDD value for a chemical substance is usually applied to all presentations of the substance. For this publication, the ADDs have been created using each presentation strength of the medicines linked with licenced dose regimens and NICE guidance.

For more details on how ADDs are assigned and used in the Innovation Scorecard, please see the ADD methodology chapter of this publication.

Estimates report explained

This report includes medicines where it has been possible to estimate the number of patients predicted to be treated with the medicines and comparing that to the observed use. The report is produced and written by NICE. This work is complex due to difficulties in deriving estimates of the number of patients expected to be treated and obtaining appropriate utilisation data for specific medicines and indications. Medicines may have multiple indications, some NICE appraised and some not. Also, there may be a number of medicines with the same indication.

A TA generally recommends a medicine as a treatment option for consideration alongside other options. There are known gaps in medicine utilisation data These gaps include supplies made directly to patients via the homecare route or by outsourced dispensing.

From the October 2023 release, the Estimates Report was reformatted to direct readers via links to NICE TAs and medicine information. It also made the estimated use calculations more visible to users. Feedback on changes made to the structure of the report is welcomed. Any comments can be sent to

The Government Statistical Service (GSS) Methodological Committee recommended that estimates should include a range to provide an indication of the level of uncertainty in the data. For this publication all estimates now include a range. The upper and lower estimates of expected use are shown alongside the observed use in the national medicine groupings interactive dashboard.

This report was originally based on the ‘Use of NICE Appraised Medicines in the NHS in England 2012’ report published in January 2014. This publication is a result of collaborative work between NHS Digital and NICE, with contributions from the pharmaceutical industry, DH and the NHS. The report was commissioned by DH, to meet their commitments in the Pharmaceutical Price Regulation Scheme agreements (PPRS 2009 and PPRS 2014). The report can be found on the government archive website.


Acronym Definition

Accelerated Access Review

The AAR aims to speed up access to innovative drugs, devices and diagnostics for NHS patients

ABHI Association of British Healthcare Industries
ABPI The Association of the British Pharmaceutical Industry
ADD Assumed Daily Dose

Anatomical Therapeutic Chemical

A classification system for active substances controlled by the World Health Organisation Collaborating Centre for Drug Statistics Methodology


Defined Daily Dose

Defined daily doses (DDDs) are a World Health Organisation (WHO) statistical measure of medicine consumption. DDDs are used to standardise the comparative usage of various medicines between themselves or between different health care environments

DHSC Department of Health and Social Care
DOACs Direct oral anticoagulants
DQ Data quality
EPD English Prescribing Dataset published by the NHS Business Services Authority
FCE Finished Consultant Episode
HES Hospital Episode Statistics
Homecare medicines The supply of hospital prescribed medicines direct to patients in their own homes
ICB Integrated Care Board
An NHS organisation responsible for developing a plan for meeting the health needs of the population, managing the NHS budget and arranging for the provision of health services in an Integrated Care System (ICS) area. 42 ICBs were established from 1 Jul 2022. ICBs are successors to Sustainability and Transformation Partnerships (STPs)
ICS Integrated Care system

Partnerships of NHS bodies and local authorities, working with other relevant local organisations that come together to plan and deliver joined up health and care services
MHRA Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency
NHS National Health Service
NICE National Institute for Health and Care Excellence
OHE Office of Health Economics
OLS Office for Life Sciences
ONS Office for National Statistics
Outsourced supply The supply of hospital prescribed medicines direct to outpatients from a contracted dispenser
PCA Prescription Cost Analysis
Prescription services A department within the NHS Business Services Authority
Primary care Primary care is the term for the health care services provided within the local community, acting as the first point of consultation
Quintile A statistical term for each subset of values when the values are ordered and divided into 5 equally sized subsets. The first quintile represents the lowest fifth of the data (1-20%) and the second quintile represents the second fifth (21% - 40%) , and so on. In the Innovation Scorecard dashboard, we show the quintile each organisation falls into for a medicine, based on the reported utilisation
Secondary care Secondary care is known as acute healthcare and can be either elective care or emergency care. Also referred to as hospital trusts
SCMD Secondary Care Medicines Dataset supplied by Rx-Info
Sub ICB location A subdivision of an Integrated Care Board's geographic area. Formerly Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) areas
TA NICE Technology Appraisal
Trust An NHS hospital trust, also known as an acute trust provides secondary health services. A hospital trust may include a number of local hospitals, under a single overall management arrangement
UKSA UK Statistics Authority
WHO World Health Organisation

< Previous Chapter

Background Quality Notes

Pages in this publication

  1. Overview
  2. Background and introduction
  3. Estimates Report
  4. Assumed Daily Dose (ADD) Methodology
  5. Background Quality notes
  6. Guidance and glossary
  7. Guide to the underlying data