The time to build out of a crisis is when you are in it – learning in the moment from the challenges you face. During the pandemic the AHSN Network worked closely with health and care systems throughout England to support them to respond to the pandemic, tailoring our offer to what was required.
Last week we were proud to launch our report as part of the AHSN Network’s Health and Care Reset Campaign, which captured our learning from this time. The report describes the AHSN experience of the pandemic, collates learning from across our sector and offers recommendations for how we may support the health and care system to ‘reset’ following the pandemic and realise the long-term vision for a more innovative health and care system.
We have seen throughout the pandemic that one of the main things needed to help the health and care system tackle its greatest challenges is collaboration – working together towards a common purpose, and facilitating the rapid roll-out of innovation and transformation. These factors go to the heart of what the AHSN Network is all about. AHSNs are built on the premise of partnerships, working together with local systems, academia and industry to facilitate change and we lead the spread and adoption of innovation in the NHS in England. As a result, AHSNs are well-placed to now support the health system to recover and reset.
Our experience of the pandemic, captured through this report, also demonstrates the need to work in partnership with industry to bring about change. In the AHSNs we’re perfectly positioned to bridge the gap between the NHS and industry to facilitate adoption of the best solutions within the health and care system. Looking ahead to the future, it’s clear that we need to create more opportunities for industry to support the NHS if we are to create a modern health and care system.
Notably, during the pandemic we saw the rapid uptake of digital health solutions and the important role of digital as an enabler in health and social care. We must now galvanise on this increased acceptance of digital solutions to create capacity, manage patients remotely and to help patient’s self-care where appropriate. It’s clear that tackling the challenges the system is currently facing cannot simply be done by working harder, it can only be achieved by working smarter – this means driving the adoption of innovative digital solutions and many other innovations.
The pandemic has shone a bright light on health inequalities in England, in some areas even exacerbating the divide. The AHSN Network has a significant potential role in influencing local and national leaders to effect meaningful change on policy and better understand the drivers behind health inequalities as we sit at the cornerstone between health innovation and economic growth and understand the intrinsic link between health and wealth.
Having reacted quickly and taken on a greater appetite for innovation and change during the pandemic, health and care is now faced with the unprecedented opportunity to reassess the structure, pathways and integration of the whole health and social care system. Rather than return to old ways, we must now review the positive changes in practice and culture that have been made throughout the pandemic and reset to a new way of working to build a modern and equitable health and care system for the future.