Adoption and spread of innovation in the NHS - A King's Fund report

A new report from the King's Fund, published today and commissioned on behalf of the AHSN Network, charts the journeys of eight innovations from creation to widespread patient use.

From new communications technologies for patients with long-term conditions, to new care pathways in liver disease diagnosis, to new checklists for busy A&E departments, the report charts the highs and lows of an innovator's journey through the NHS.

While thousands of patients who might otherwise have been neglected are receiving treatment for arthritis, diabetes, cardiovascular disease and chronic liver disease, thanks to successful innovations, the report outlines the significant barriers that stand in innovators' paths.

The case studies reveal common themes:

  • Some leaders within organisations still need convincing that innovation is a solution to the NHS's challenges, rather than an unaffordable luxury, and of the role they can play in supporting it.

  • Providers need to be able to select and tailor innovations that deliver the greatest value given local challenges and work in the local context.

  • Fragmentation of NHS services remains a barrier to adoption and spread of innovation, making it harder to develop shared approaches and transmit learning across sites.

  • New innovations may appear simple to introduce but can have a domino effect - triggering a series of changes to diagnosis and treatment, revealing new patient needs and resulting in big changes to staff and patient roles.

  • As long as the NHS sets aside less than 0.1% of available resources for the adoption and spread of innovation, a small fraction of the funds available for innovation itself, the NHS's operating units will struggle to adopt large numbers of innovations and rapidly improve productivity. 

Commenting on the report, Guy Boersma, Managing Director of Kent Surrey Sussex Academic Health Science Network, said:

"Innovation is vital as it transforms care and save lives, but we know that our members face a range of barriers when it comes to adopting new innovations.

"By working with them, individually and at STP level, KSS AHSN helps overcome the barriers to adoption and develops solutions that enable the spread of well evidenced, beneficial innovations.

"As the report states, barriers can be overcome and greater sustainability and transformation achieved, and the AHSN network is playing a key role in supporting its members' to  deliver better services for patients and better value for the taxpayer."  

Read the report in full here.  

The findings of the report will be discussed in depth at a live online event hosted by the King's Fund on 19th January at 10am. Register and more details here.

  • England's 15 AHSNs were set up by the NHS in 2013. They bring together the NHS, social care, public health, academic, voluntary and industry organisations to support the spread of innovation throughout the NHS and care. During their first licence (since 2013) they have spread over 200 innovations through 11,000 locations, benefiting 6 million people, creating over 500 jobs and leveraging £330 million investment to improve health and support the NHS, social care and industry innovators.