Liz Mear: Spreading the adoption of innovation into practice

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  • Posted:Tuesday 03 July 2018

Chief Executive of the Innovation Agency Liz Mear speaking at our event in June 2018, Innovation in health and care: overcoming the barriers to adoption and spread.


Sometimes across AHSNs we talk about the use of innovation as a contact sport, we need to get out there talk to people, see them, support them. So this slide is about our atrial fibrillation campaign; so this is rolling out across all fifteen academic health science networks and we started on this four years ago. We had a high number of strokes, it was really apparent to us that right across our system we needed to start to tackle strokes. So the network got behind that and set a target that we're working on at the moment to identify 85% of people who had atrial fibrillation but didn't know about it, and we've managed to get to that and we're on a stretch target of 90% at the moment, but this was the boots on the ground working on CVD prevention policies, working with all these partners and more. So this is Cheshire fire and rescue service, they're out in the community all the time doing safe and well checks and they started testing people for atrial fibrillation. 

So a lot of our work is about creating a culture that's receptive for innovation. So we've got innovation scouts, or some AHSNs call them 'intrepreneurs'. We've been setting up some innovation centres because we didn't have that in our patch, other people had them already so they don't need to do that. A lot of us run specific matching events to bring people together from universities, from NHS, from local councils, from industry. Across AHSNs we have these communities of practice; the Qs who work on patient safety, a big network right across the country. I've talked a little bit about 'intrepreneurs' and innovation scouts and the clinical evidence champions.

So these are photos of our ambassadors and we have these around our atrial fibrillation programme and if you recognise Bill Beaumont there, rugby player, and in the north west there is a rugby corridor with about twelve rugby clubs and they are really keen to support family health and men's health. So we had a willing audience there of people who would talk about this and you'll see dotted across the slides there's a number of examples of technology. So people don't just want to receive a technology or an innovation and not have any choice; they want to adapt, they want to get what works best for them in the system, and I think that's been part of our learning. 

So one of the barriers was funding for innovations and NHS England has worked really hard to think about how they do fund some fantastic innovations; and last year we were rolling out the innovation and technology tariff. So a range of products that were commissioned by NHS England and funded by them. They are free, a barrier has gone, they're great, they make a difference to patients' lives. So we're seeing a lot of uptake as we move forward. 

Celebration, one of the things we do well as AHSNs, people might recognise Penny Newman with health coaching, Lloyd Humphreys, patient knows best, but these are great innovations and every year we celebrate those with an NIA celebration event, an annual event. The people at the right are the clinic entrepreneurs, those people who are in service who have trained, they want to stay innovative, they want to test ideas and have a network round them. Again they have an annual celebration event and across AHSNs everybody will have their local celebrations and people actually really do appreciate coming together hearing what other people are doing in their region, learning from their peers and just thinking: actually I could do that, I'll have a word with them. 

So we've got funding across AHSNs from NHS England, we have funding from NHS Improvement to run the patient safety collaboratives and we're also now having funding from the Office for Life Sciences for innovation exchanges. And we were approached by the Office for Life Sciences because they could see we were doing something really good, that we're in a unique place in the system, we were that neutral party in a system that connected all these different parts of it and we also had a fantastic innovation pathway and we worked with industry; if somebody came to us with a great innovation so that they could get that to stick hopefully, be introduced and adopted into the NHS and care partners. We've come up with a range of things that we will be doing within innovation exchanges to adopt and spread innovation even further. So we'll be communicating right across systems, bringing people together, talking to them about innovations, putting them in the same room, collaborating. We're going to be doing a lot of real world evaluation. You can build on research trials but it's about very practical innovation being put into practice and evaluated. 

So this is about collaborating across partners but also collaborating across the network of AHSNs. We're a vehicle for spread and adoption, we're a vehicle that can have conversations between ourselves to say, "Actually why did that work in your patch? How can I get it to work in my patch? Let me chat to you about some of the issues that I've experienced." So this story is continuing. We'll be rolling out NHS England's programmes that the AHSN have come up with themselves, we'll be rolling out innovation exchanges and over the next two years I think the adoption and spread will be phenomenal as we work together to collaborate.