Patients must be at the heart of the NHS – and of innovation

Sep 28, 2017 · In the third instalment of the NHS Innovation Accelerator (NIA) series sharing research and real-world insight, Dr Amanda Begley explains why health innovators must adopt the core principles of the NHS Constitution, ensuring that the patient is at the heart of everything they do.

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The NHS Constitution, first published in 2011, holds as one of its core principles: "the patient will be at the heart of everything the NHS does". And so it should be for innovation. Patients should be at the heart of the development of innovations, and with the outcomes they seek to achieve, in order to radically improve the way in which the NHS engages with, supports and cares for people. This could be through new treatments, more accessible and effective care, or more efficient processes that free up resource to reinvest into patient care.

It is widely recognised that patients play a powerful role in successfully developing and scaling innovations - as well as benefiting from them.

The recognised roles for patient involvement in health innovation include:

- Paying close attention to patient experience to identify opportunities for innovation

- Inviting direct feedback to learn how to make an innovation successful

- Using patient stories to make a more compelling case for adoption of an innovation

- Leveraging spread of innovation through patients actively demanding change to address unmet need

These all hold true in much of the NIA experience. In addition, NIA Fellows offer three key insights for how patients can actively support the adoption and scaling of innovation in the NHS:

- Intrinsic - not just instrumental - involvement of patients can accelerate engagement with potential adopters

- Involving patients beyond design and evaluation can drive more sophisticated scaling strategies

- Scaling strategies involving both patients and clinicians - rather than either in isolation - is key to creating sustainable demand for innovation

Intrinsic - not just instrumental - involvement of patients can accelerate engagement with potential adopters

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