Adoption and adaptation: Repurposing innovation in the NHS

Driving innovation in the NHS can be notoriously difficult. There are lots of good reasons for that, not least the fact that it’s a huge organisation under pressure, or that migrating from legacy systems can be a massive undertaking.

Even still, it’s important to try and understand how innovation can be encouraged, so as to help the organisation continue moving forward.

That’s exactly what a recently published King’s Fund report, commissioned by the AHSN Network, has done. The King’s Fund is an independent charity working to improve health and care in England and its report looks at what can be done to facilitate faster adoption and spread of service innovation given the current configuration of the NHS.

The report highlighted eight case studies in which innovation had been spread successfully and pulled together findings about what helped innovation and what hindered it. In the words of the AHSN Network, some of the ways that the report found to support the adoption and spread of innovation within the NHS are “embarrassingly simple,” such as good access to funding for rapid adoption, simpler processes for adopting innovative services and the introduction of roles for encouraging adoption.

Of course, the adoption and spread of innovation within the NHS can also be encouraged externally from innovators themselves, by ensuring that the products or services that are being pitched are tailored towards the needs and nuances of the organisation, with co-production of innovations facilitating uptake.

Of course, the NHS and social care can also benefit from products that have been developed for other sectors that are adapted or “repurposed” for health. One example of this is the heating technology that makes needles safe in Needlesmart’s technology, a Liverpool based SME which moved from the engineering sector to the sector.

The principle is simple: it can be easier to adapt innovative products or services that have proven successful in other industries for use in the NHS that it is to innovative from scratch for the NHS

This is the one of the underlying bases of the Health Innovation Exchange. The programme seeks to provide support for businesses in the Liverpool City Region that have a product or service that could be reapplied for use in health and care sectors. The word ‘’entrepreneurship’ might not often be used in the NHS, but it’s spirit is strong.  The desire is there but too often innovative ideas are stifled however through our programme we want to ensure that colleagues in the local healthcare system see innovations as a solution to their challenges.

If you think you have the specialism, ambition and growth potential to be part of the Health Innovation Exchange, join us today.