The 15 AHSNs cover the whole of England. Individually, we serve the regions and care systems within which we work, while collectively we ensure that transformative innovations become available as widely as possible, as quickly as possible.
Our work drives improvements in quality of care and supports economic growth through our support for evaluation, adoption and spread of innovation.
Each AHSN has a mandate from the health, care and academic organisations within its region. This allows us to act as effective change agents locally and to horizon scan on behalf of our member organisations for innovations that address their varied needs.
The licence we have and the commissions we receive from our three central funders (NHS England, NHS Improvement and the Office for Life Sciences) allow us to support transformation within our regions and to collaborate on the national stage to identify and share best practice between AHSNs.
The innovations we support could be categorised in any number of ways. Some come from within the NHS or social care; some are products or services from industry. They could be medical devices, service improvements or digital technologies.
What is common across all the innovations we support is the objective to improve quality of care, whether through better health outcomes for individuals, safer care and fewer incidences of harm, or improved efficiency within the system.
The value of AHSN support and brokering to companies is evident in the products and services we help them develop, which then go on to contribute to health system improvements. It is also apparent through the economic growth derived from the jobs these companies create and the investment they leverage through access to NHS expertise and the ability to co-create and evaluate innovations within the NHS and social care.
While it is clear that we work within a highly complex system, we are fortunate as the AHSN Network in that we have unparalleled access to change leaders and innovations from multiple sources. This has an amplifying effect:
- As trusted agents within our local health communities, we can help establish the conditions conducive to innovation and its adoption. We can also mobilise key opinion leaders and networks of change agents across health, social care and academia in support of our work.
- Innovation, insight and skills from industry are a crucial resource for the care system as it seeks to transform, particularly in the digital space.
- In that transformation we must maintain quality of outcomes and safety and the AHSNs are able to broker the partnerships and relationships necessary to achieve this balance.
The backing of our regions for our role as trusted brokers within the system means that AHSNs can harness the power of the NHS, academia and industry within a national Network of peers and a portfolio of programmes for transformation. And while we collaborate in this way, we are also constantly discovering and learning together about our capabilities and potential as a Network.
But the real magic happens when there is local pull for innovation resulting from a real and clearly identified need in the system and we work together, bringing all those with a part to play in the innovation agenda, from within the NHS, from industry and from academia, creating partnerships to find, evaluate and deploy solutions to meet that need.
We have found that addressing the quality and safety requirements of our complex, continuously changing system can only be done effectively by acknowledging that:
- Change is complex and has both regional and national dimensions.
- The change agents and networks within the system are the same people, whether the lens we use is outcomes, safety, efficiency or any other measure of quality.
- We need to get a lot better in the NHS and social care at system change and much more astute about the learning that goes with it.
We are proud of what we are achieving across our three commissions: running England’s 15 Patient Safety Collaboratives; delivering national programmes to improving health outcomes and system efficiencies; and working with industry to support economic growth.
And due to our unique relationship with all the agents and beneficiaries of transformative innovation, these three commissions are mutually reinforcing, each stronger and more effective because of the mandate we have from our regions coupled with our commitment to collaborate nationally.