The Health Foundation recently published a helpful and interesting article titled A complex patchwork of programmes – How do we get the balance right to support health technology and innovation? Where they concentrate on the spread and adoption of innovation in our complex health and care system, using an in-depth mapping exercise to understand the range of programmes and activity being deployed in the system and some of the key considerations. Some of the important themes include rapid evaluation and real world evidence, including mention of our AHSN Network Innovation Exchange process as a driver.
In our role as the innovation arm of the NHS, the AHSNs work regionally and nationally to support the health and care system discover, develop and deploy high value innovation in the health and care system. We also work with health and care innovators to support them on their journey, sometimes from concept to spread. This means we are uniquely placed to identify and spread ground-breaking innovation at pace and scale, driving the adoption and spread of innovative ideas and technologies across large populations.
Rather than relying on the ‘glitter’ of innovations to achieve uptake we must reflect and examine the mechanics, processes and culture surrounding the uptake of innovation in the NHS and social care system to make real progress.
Adoption and spread approaches
In May this year, we published our Review of spread and adoption approaches across the AHSN Network, which identifies and captures our learning on the methods used with partners to spread and adopt innovation. A summary of the report puts forward our learnings and learnings that are applicable to the wider health and care system (see pages 19-22). This includes a tension between the requirement for evidence and pace of change; the importance of increasing the profile of adoption and spread of innovation; and considering which of the different spread and adoption approaches and methodologies to apply to individual programmes.
The AHSNs are major advocates of rapid evaluation and recognise the benefits that fast-paced learning can have on the spread and adoption of innovation within the system, ultimately helping us get the right innovations to patients faster.
During the pandemic, we published a white paper Rapid evaluation of health and care services – planning a sustainable solution for the post-COVID reset. This outlines recommendations, informed by discussions with our stakeholders, about the resources and infrastructure; co-ordination; signalling; and evaluation design, surrounding rapid evaluation of health and care innovations.
Real world evidence
Real world evidence and validation is a key part of our innovation pathway for industry and innovators, it’s often fundamental to our health and care colleagues to see how an innovation works in practice and the benefits it could bring to their setting. How we support innovators with this is explained in more detail through our Innovation Exchange Gateway.
There is no escaping the fact that we the NHS health and care system is a highly complex environment traditionally resistant to rapid adoption of new products and ways of working, and it is pleasing to see the increased appetite to change the way the system views and approaches health and care innovation.