Pre-evaluation of the Communities of Practice Programme
Communities of Practice (CoPs) are self-organising and self-governing groups of people who share a passion for their working practices and strive to be better practitioners. Although CoPs are seen as valuable, measuring their effect is difficult.
Researchers examined the CoPs set up in 2015 in association with the Health Innovation Network to assess the feasibility of, and best approach to, a full-scale evaluation of CoPs. They also provided immediate evidence to help CoPs improve their effectiveness.
Communities of Practice (CoPs) are self-organising and self-governing groups of healthcare stakeholders who share a passion for improvement and strive to be better practitioners. CoPs seek to develop and spread new knowledge, practices, capabilities and organisational capacity.
In 2015, the Health Innovation Network (HIN) set up several CoPs that cover a range of domains, including medicine safety, duty of candour and acute deterioration. The aim was to initiate a vibrant network of learning and innovation that will change patient safety outcomes for the better.
RAND Europe was commissioned to collect data that will be used to assess the feasibility of, and best approach to, a full-scale evaluation of the HIN CoPs. The data was also used to provide immediate and useful evidence to help CoPs improve their effectiveness.
The study examined how the CoPs operate and how and when knowledge generated within CoPs leads to improved work.
The project team used a variety of methods, including a document review, interviews with key stakeholders, workshops with CoPs and a survey of CoP participants.
The CoPs created enthusiastic engagement and provided their members with an attractive route to greater patient safety and healthcare improvement.
Change can be delivered if the needed knowledge is contained within, or explored through, a CoP. However, if the knowledge is not accessible to the community and change cannot be delivered, the current CoP model needs to be modified to engage senior leadership, change national mandates or work with commissioners.
The report proposed a five-level maturity model for the HIN CoPs. Sustaining the rhythm of learning at a high level of maturity may be more easily done where the CoP is linked to, or embedded within, other approaches to improvement.
The report identified a number of questions that need to be considered in future evaluations.
- How is the momentum towards transformation sustained and what are the wider dependencies that are needed for this to happen?
- How is progress and value-added measured?
- How is the rhythm of learning sustained?
- How are cultures and principles nurtured and sustained?