Innovating for improved healthcare: the current context and ways forward for quality and productivity in the NHS
Jan 27, 2020
Sociotechnical and Innovation Systems Perspectives and Lessons from the NHS
Published in: Science and Public Policy (February 2020). doi: 10.1093/scipol/scaa005
Healthcare systems with limited resources face rising demand pressures. Healthcare decision-makers increasingly recognise the potential of innovation to help respond to this challenge and to support high-quality care. However, comprehensive and actionable evidence on how to realise this potential is lacking. We adopt sociotechnical systems and innovation systems theoretical perspectives to examine conditions that can support and sustain innovating healthcare systems. We use primary data focussing on England (with 670 contributions over time) and triangulate findings against globally-relevant literature. We discuss the complexity of factors influencing an innovating healthcare system's ability to support the development and uptake of innovations and share practical learning about changes in policy, culture, and behaviour that could support system improvement. Three themes are examined in detail: skills, capabilities, and leadership; motivations and accountabilities; and collaboration and coordination. We also contribute to advancing applications of sociotechnical systems thinking to major societal transformation challenges.