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Why innovation is everyone’s business

16 December 2019 | Professor Mike Roberts
Our Interim Managing Director Professor Mike Roberts reflects on the part we can all play in helping new ideas to be adopted.

One of the key principles of UCLPartners is that we innovate and then take that innovation into the NHS and care settings to adopt at scale for the benefit of our population.

The Oxford Dictionary defines innovation as:

Innovation (in something): the introduction of new things, ideas or ways of doing something.

Oxford Dictionary

In my first few weeks as interim Managing Director of UCLPartners I’ve been reflecting on the part we can all play in helping new ideas to be adopted.

On December 4th our commercial and innovation team hosted the UCLPartners Innovation Network, which draws together a range of individuals – including directors of transformation, chief clinical information officers and a host of other people involved in fostering innovation in the NHS trusts, CCGs and STPs in our region.

There was a great turn out and huge enthusiasm for how we can better support our NHS partners to find out about what innovations are out there that might help meet some of their challenges, and how they (as part of the NHS) can start to share some of their learning across organisations in that forum. This is something that cannot easily be done in isolation.

The same week also saw the Westminster Forum on innovation with Amanda Begley, Director of Innovation and Implementation at UCLPartners as a keynote speaker. Amanda related the huge success that is the NHS Innovation Accelerator, which promotes and coaches entrepreneurs to deliver new products for the NHS. It has added huge value nationally in terms of new jobs, economic growth and patient benefit.  Launched in 2015, the NIA have supported 49 fellows and brought 52 innovations to scale, with 2121 NHS organisations now using NIA innovations. Hosting the NIA at UCLPartners, on behalf of the national AHSN Network, gives us unique insights into the challenges of adopting innovations in the NHS and some of the ways that entrepreneurs and innovations can be supported to help them gain traction for innovations that can make a big impact on patients’ lives.

Finally, in early December the AHSN Network hosted a Test Bed Innovation Exchange Day – a great day of sharing and learning on value and scaling up of innovation across the health and care system. Our interim commercial director Rob Berry spoke at the event on the importance of considering scale up early on for innovators. Real world validation is key to the later adoption of innovation within the NHS and we can facilitate this via our partner test bed Care City and using our NHS partnerships.

It’s a privilege to work alongside these leaders in innovation, but I see innovation as also being a primary role for everyone working in health and care. Our success across the system will depend upon how we adapt to change and manage to be one step ahead of the future challenges we face: we need to innovate in everything we do.

The NHS Long Term plan, published at the beginning of 2019, highlighted that ‘Almost everything in this Plan is already being implemented successfully somewhere in the NHS’. The implication is that adoption and spread are significant problems.

My challenge to you – whatever your role – as we enter 2020 is to say:

What can you do differently? What can you suggest that you, as a team or as an organisation, do to introduce new things, ideas and ways of doing things?

Innovation is key to the success of the NHS and it is everyone’s business.