Building on the six principles

Page last updated: 12 May 2022
Organisations we regulate

The organisations involved in researching and developing this publication are committed to encouraging innovation in the health and social care sector – and doing this in a way that delivers the most benefit to people who use services.

Each organisation has a different role in the system, so will build on the findings of this work in a different way. This section of the publication sets out the next steps for each organisation and explains the support that the Health Foundation offers for the adoption of innovation.

Care Quality Commission: Getting better at recognising good innovation

CQC is the regulator for health and social care organisations in England. CQC recognises the importance of innovation as a tool that organisations can use to improve quality and looks at innovation as part of its assessment of whether a service or organisation is well-led.

CQC will use this publication to continue to build an approach to regulation that encourages innovation and is consistent with the principles set out in this publication. This means that where innovations have failed, CQC should recognise that as part of the innovation process and explore whether providers have mitigated risks and learned from failure.

It also means recognising that innovation is something that all providers can do, not just those with outstanding ratings, and it means ensuring that adopting ideas that have worked elsewhere is given as much importance as inventing new ideas.

Alongside the development of an improved methodology, CQC will continue to develop its capability and capacity to implement these principles consistently in its regulation and encourage innovation and improvement, while ensuring that people get safe, high-quality care.

The Accelerated Access Collaborative and the Academic Health Science Networks: Working with providers and systems to improve their capacity to adopt

The AAC was formed in response to the independently-chaired Accelerated Access Review published in October 2016. The AAC brings industry, government and the NHS together to remove barriers to innovation and the adoption of innovation in the NHS so that people have faster and less varied access to innovations that can transform care.

Historically, focus has been on supporting innovators to enable them to drive adoption of their innovations within the NHS. In early 2020, the AAC, NHS England and NHS Improvement and the Academic Health Science Networks (AHSNs), engaged local NHS providers and integrated care systems to explore a strategy that would increase the health system’s capacity to adopt. This paper outlining ‘what good looks like’ in terms of innovation and the adoption of innovation at the provider level is one element of this strategy.

The coronavirus pandemic demonstrated the vital role that innovation plays in the NHS and challenged traditional barriers to adoption. The AAC is now exploring what lessons from the pandemic can be used to shape the future of innovation and adoption in the health system.

Health Education England: Building capability for digital and innovation

HEE exists for one reason only: to support the delivery of excellent healthcare and health improvement to the patients and public of England by ensuring that the workforce of today and tomorrow has the right numbers, skills, values and behaviours, at the right time and in the right place.

HEE, as commissioned by NHSX, has established a programme of work around digital readiness, recognising that many innovations and improvements in health and care involve digital technologies and data. The programme has developed a suite of products including board development sessions and tools for organisational development, and learning and development teams to use to improve the digital literacy of their staff, create a digital and adaptive culture and provide focused training in digital for generalists and specialists.

National Association of Primary Care

NAPC is a not-for-profit, social purpose development and support organisation – making primary healthcare better for all. Their mission is to improve the health and wellbeing of defined populations locally, nationally and internationally.

Driving and supporting innovation is at the heart of NAPC’s priorities – They have a range of innovation projects and programmes designed to improve patient care and influence the shape of future health and care developments and policy. For example, the primary care innovation network was established to support members to become pioneers of primary care. In the first wave, 10 practices came together to innovate locally and through this our primary care navigation programme was born. Their primary care navigation programme provides tailored training for frontline staff to signpost people to local community resources, empowering them to manage their personal needs and reducing their reliance on GPs.

They help communities work together to focus on the local population needs and provide care closer to patients’ homes. With over 500 professionals on our National Primary Care Network programme, they help local and national leaders across the NHS to shape the future of the NHS together. NAPC will use the findings in this publication to continue to develop innovative solutions across health and social care and encourage colleagues to come together to think differently.

National Care Forum

The NCF is the leading voice for not-for-profit organisations in the care and support sector. NCF supports over 130 members to improve social care provision and enhance the quality of life, choice, control and wellbeing of people who use care services.

The NCF is a leader in supporting the care sector to embrace innovation in care delivery as well as digital technology to improve the quality of care for those using care services. They play a leading role in Digital Social Care, which is a joint Care Provider Alliance and NHS Digital project, run by social care providers for social care providers, offering a dedicated space providing advice and support to the adult social care sector on technology and data protection. Digital Social Care has recently set up a dedicated helpline to support providers during the coronavirus crisis, helping navigate NHSmail, Microsoft Teams, Capacity Tracker as well as cyber security and data protection.

Building on some of the key principles in this paper, NCF has also just launched a new project, with funding from NHS Digital’s Digital Pathfinders Programme, which will help care providers to understand the benefits of technology, how to build a business case for investment, and how to successfully introduce, use and evaluate technology.

The Hubble Project offers senior decision-makers the chance to virtually visit ‘innovation hubs’ to learn how other care providers have introduced, used and evaluated digital technology to improve care. NCF has just completed the first 30 webinar sessions as part of the Hubble project and is currently drawing on lessons learned to create a sustainable version of the project. The innovation hubs are based in three care settings in England and showcase a range of technologies which include electronic care planning, electronic medical records, acoustic monitoring, circadian lighting, sensor technology and telecare.

For the webinar sessions NCF used a mixture of pre-recorded content and live Q&A, with managers and staff demonstrating the technology that they use and their digital journey. This included how they came to adopt technology, the challenges and the benefits of implementing and using it, and the use of data to improve the quality of care.

NHSX: Accelerating the adoption of digital technology

Established in July 2019, NHSX brings together teams from the Department of Health and Social Care and NHS England and Improvement. NHSX aims to support the health and care system to digitise services, connect them to support integration and, through these foundations, enable service transformation:

  • Digitise – Building smart digital and data foundations, level up all NHS and social care services to ensure they have the core infrastructure in place and a minimum level of digitisation;
  • Connect – Join services together through technology, allowing health and care providers to share information with one another; and take a shared approach to procurement and implementation; and
  • Transform – Use the platform of a digitised, interoperable, connected health and care system to deliver services more effectively and productively, and with the citizen at the centre.

A key part of NHSX’s role is helping the health and care system identify and scale proven innovations. NHSX promotes digital innovation across the system by working with partners such as CQC, NICE, HEE and Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency to coordinate work that underpins the digital ecosystem and promotes the adoption of innovative technology across the country.

NHSX’s digital innovation team works with digital companies that have relevant, proven innovations to help them as they scale across the NHS.

The team has established innovation surgeries and national events to help developers and innovators navigate the adoption of digital services, and it works to address the hurdles for innovation across the NHS and social care. Its report, Listening to Innovators, outlines the top five themes that digital innovators need to help accelerate and scale change, as well as the work that NHSX are undertaking to support this agenda.

The NHS Artificial Intelligence Laboratory (AI Lab), set up by NHSX over a year ago, will accelerate the safe and ethical deployment of AI technologies that can solve some of the toughest challenges in health and care. It seeks to create an environment for collaboration and co-creation, while ensuring the right guidance and regulations to protect patients are in place. For example:

  • the Artificial Intelligence in Health and Care Award (run by the Accelerated Access Collaborative(AAC) in partnership with NHSX and the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR)) is making £140 million available over three years to accelerate the testing and evaluation of technologies that support different categories of technology to address clinical and patient need.
  • the AI Skunkworks team will support the health and care community to take ideas from scratch to a ‘proof of concept’. The most operational and valuable proof of concepts may be adapted into a minimum viable product for further development within the NHS and care settings.
  • a new multi-agency advisory service aims to give innovators and health and care providers developing AI technologies a one-stop shop for support, information and guidance on regulation and evaluation.

To support innovation within the social care sector and to foster joined up care between health and social care, NHSX is working as part of wider digital collaboration in conjunction with the Local Government Association and the Association of Directors of Adult Social Services.

In addition, NHSX is working with others, such as care provider associations, to increase the sector’s access to the fundamentals that underpin digital transformation, such as adequate and reliable wi-fi and NHSmail. NHSX is also supporting the sector to develop the digital maturity and skills required to realise the gains for the organisation and the benefits in the care of people who use services.

The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence

NICE is the independent organisation responsible for providing evidence-based guidance on health and social care in England. NICE guidance, standards and other resources help health and public health professionals, and social care practitioners, to deliver the best possible care within the resources available.

NICE will continue to work with system partners to encourage and support a quality and safety-focused approach, in which commissioners and providers use NICE guidance and other NICE-accredited sources to improve outcomes. For example, supporting the work of the AAC, NICE works in partnership with NHS England and NHS Improvement (NHSEI), AHSNs and industry, to identify the challenges and solutions to the wider scale adoption of selected NICE recommended health technologies. NICE also collates real life examples of how NICE guidance and standards have been used to improve the quality of health and social care services around the UK.

The Social Care Institute for Excellence: Developing networks for innovation in social care

SCIE is a national charity that improves the lives of people of all ages by co-producing, sharing, and supporting the use of the best available knowledge and evidence about what works in practice.

SCIE is leading a partnership delivering the Social Care Innovation Network (SCIN), which explores how how to scale community and asset-based approaches to providing care and support. It supports a number of local organisations to embed innovations. The SCIN will apply this shared view of innovation in shaping the support it provides to innovation in the sector.

Health Foundation support for adopting innovation

The Health Foundation is an independent charity committed to bringing about better health and health care for people in the UK. As part of this, we invest in improving health service delivery, supporting innovation and improvement, and the spread of successful ideas.

Over the last decade, the Health Foundation has invested over £25 million in major programmes to encourage the spread of innovation and improvement, supporting many individual spread projects across hundreds of adopter sites. Our recent report The spread challenge uses first person extensive learning from these programmes to shine a light on the challenges facing the NHS in effectively taking up new ideas and innovations. This analysis supports the view that national and local programmes need to do more to support effective adoption in order to maximise the benefits of new ideas for service users and staff.

Charitable foundations are an important part of the landscape of organisations supporting innovation and adoption in healthcare. Over the next three years, the Health Foundation will be contributing to this agenda through first person new UK-wide programme Adopting Innovation, which, through the creation of four local innovation hubs, will help NHS providers and local health systems create the conditions for more effective adoption. The goal is to support providers to take up and implement new innovations successfully, so they can provide better care for people no matter where they are based. This includes adopting new approaches and ways of working in order to meet unprecedented demands on the health service in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic.

In addition, in partnership with NHS England and NHS Improvement, the Health Foundation will continue to develop the Q Community, connecting and supporting people with improvement experience in order to accelerate the spread of ideas and knowledge across professional and organisational boundaries.

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