Evaluation of the Adopting Innovation Programme

A group of health care staff meeting at a table, seen from above, photo by  Sharne T/Adobe Stock

Photo by Sharne T/Adobe Stock

What is the issue?

The UK’s National Health Service (NHS) has been under pressure for more than a decade. Financing, the shifting needs of society, including an ageing population, emerging public health threats, and the increasing prevalence of multi-morbidities, have made it increasingly challenging to deliver quality health care that is free at the point-of-service. For the NHS to cope with these pressures, it must support the spread of evidence-based innovations to generate better outcomes more efficiently. However, efforts to strengthen innovation in health and social care have been met with at best only partial success.

The Health Foundation established the Adopting Innovation programme in 2021. They hope to better understand how NHS provider organisations can more successfully identify, adapt, implement and scale health and social care innovations in ways that can be sustained over time. As part of this programme, four Innovation Hubs were established in different regions of England with the aim of promoting innovation projects and establishing wider activities and initiatives to support a culture that is more conducive to innovation. These hubs are provided with learning support through an external organisation, the Innovation Unit, and have been encouraged to share learning with each other and collaborate with other organisations within their local ICSs such as Academic Health Science Networks (AHSNs).

How do we hope to help?

RAND Europe was commissioned by the Health Foundation to conduct, first, a formative and then a summative evaluation of the four innovation hubs. Through this we hope to understand much more about how innovation can be supported in the UK health and care system and to identify practical, evidence-based and sustainable actions for Integrated Care Systems and others to consider. Our realist and solution-oriented evaluation will collect and analyse data from different sources including workshops, interviews and surveys. The research team will engage with representatives from each hub as well as supportive partners and the Health Foundation to inform the evaluation, mobilise learning and develop lessons for supporting innovation.

Some of the key questions which the evaluation will seek to answer include which features contribute to a culture that supports the adoption of innovation, what lessons can be learned about what is required to support innovation, and how the Adopting Innovation programme has been effective in adding value and promoting the adoption of innovations.