Exploring the Added Value of the Oxford AHSN

Biomedical researcher analizing DNA

Monika Wisniewska Amaviael/Fotolia


An evaluation of the Oxford Academic Health Science Network (AHSN) found that it is capable of promoting high quality care and delivering projects which improve patient outcomes at a cost that appears to represent good value for money.


There are fifteen Academic Health Science Networks (AHSNs) across England, established by NHS England in 2013 to spread innovation at pace and scale – improving health and generating economic growth. Responsible for connecting NHS and academic organisations, local authorities, the third sector and industry, they can be catalysts that create the right conditions to facilitate change across health and social care economies, with a focus on improving outcomes for patients.


The Oxford AHSN wanted to assess the value of various projects and programmes that the network has developed and implemented since it was established in 2013, to signal to external stakeholders that the Oxford AHSN delivers value for money, and in some cases cost savings. RAND Europe and the Office of Health Economics (OHE) were commissioned by Oxford AHSN to prepare evidence on the value of the network.


The project team’s methodology involved scoping assessments of six pre-specified case studies and a workshop to explore methods of attributing the value of the Oxford AHSN with AHSN employees. The workshop was held at the AHSN in November 2015.

Based on the workshop, four case studies were selected for further analysis as ‘phase two’ of the project:

  1. Anxiety & Depression Clinical Network: 5% improvement in recovery rates
  2. Maternity Clinical Network: Improving referral pathways for preterm babies
  3. Energy project: Quantifying the value of energy savings and carbon reduction
  4. Intermittent Pneumatic Compression (IPC): Increasing utilisation of IPCs in immobile stroke patients.

Case studies 1 and 2 were selected for full economic analysis; case studies 3 and 4 were selected for a ‘light touch’ analysis. The four case studies were chosen as examples of areas in which the Oxford AHSN has played a crucial role in projects to improve patient care, and areas in which analysis of added value is feasible. The analyses were based on local data collected within the Oxford AHSN region as far as possible.


Of the four case studies, three revealed improved clinical outcomes, achieved with moderate cost increases (or in at least one case cost savings), and demonstrate a tangible, positive, added value of the Oxford AHSN. The remaining case study indicated energy and carbon savings, as well as a high financial rate of return. In all cases the analyses were designed to assess the added value of the Oxford AHSN in relation to the case studies, and not to assess the ‘cost-effectiveness’ of the treatments being used.

Overall, there is evidence that the Oxford AHSN is capable of promoting high quality care and delivering projects which improve patient outcomes, at a cost that appears to represent good value for money.