Leading the spread and adoption of innovation at scale : an Academic Health Science Network's perspective

Walker, Andrew, Dale, Catherine, Curran, Natasha, Boaz, Annette and Hurley, Michael V. (2021) Leading the spread and adoption of innovation at scale : an Academic Health Science Network's perspective. BMJ Leader, 5(3), pp. 155-158. ISSN (online) 2398-631X


Background: There is virtually no limit to the number of innovations being developed, tested and piloted at any one time to improve the quality and safety of care. The perennial problem is spreading innovations that are proven to be effective on a smaller scale or under controlled conditions. Much of the literature on spread refers to the important role played by external agencies in supporting the spread of innovations. Academic Health Science Networks and the spread of innovation: External agencies can provide additional capacity and capabilities to adopter organisations, such as technical expertise, resources and tools to assist with operational issues. In England, the National Health Service (NHS) established 15 Academic Health Science Networks (AHSNs) to help accelerate the spread and adoption of innovation in healthcare. However, formal clinical-academic networks (such as AHSNs) themselves will not deliver positive, tangible outcomes on the ground (ie, evidence-based innovations embedded at scale across a system). This begs the question of how do AHSNs practically go about achieving this change successfully? We provide an AHSN’s perspective on how we conceptualise and undertake our work in leading implementation of innovation at scale. An AHSN's perspective: Our approach is a collaborative process of widening understanding of the innovation and its implementation. At its core, the implementation and spread of innovation into practice is a collective social process. Healthcare comprises complex adaptive systems, where contexts need to be negotiated for implementation to be successful. As AHSNs, we aim to lead this negotiation through facilitating knowledge exchange and production across the system to mobilise the resources and collective action necessary for achieving spread.

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