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How Does Innovation Happen in the NHS?


Innovation refers to the process of creating new ideas, methods, products, or services that bring about significant improvements or changes in how things are done.

With this in mind, innovation has surged across the NHS in recent years and is crucial for shaping the future health and care system. The NHS’s growing interest in innovation was highlighted in both the AHSN Network Health and Care Reset report and the Best Practice and Innovation report, a collaborative effort by the AHSN Network, NHS Confederation, and The Health Foundation.

The AHSN Network’s report emphasises critical factors for effectively adopting and spreading innovation: the importance of embracing change, fostering decentralised leadership and empowering the workforce, and recognising and promoting innovative initiatives.

Innovation Within the NHS

Innovation in the NHS occurs through a collaborative effort involving healthcare professionals, researchers, and technology developers. It starts with identifying challenges within the health system and seeking solutions through research and development. The NHS fosters innovation by supporting pilot projects, clinical trials, and partnerships with academic institutions and private companies.

Funding and resources are allocated to promising ideas that demonstrate the potential to improve patient care, efficiency, and cost-effectiveness. Moreover, innovation is driven by feedback from patients and staff, which helps refine and implement new technologies and practices. This continuous cycle of evaluation and adaptation ensures the NHS evolves to meet future healthcare needs.

The Link Between Health & the Economy

It is evident that innovation within the NHS has accelerated during the pandemic and holds a crucial role in shaping the future health and care system. To sustain this momentum, we must leverage lessons from the pandemic and maintain the rapid advancements in fostering an innovative culture and environment.

Additionally, there is a pressing need for a deeper understanding of the interplay between health and the economy. Despite the pandemic’s severe economic impact, prioritising health presents an opportunity to enhance public health outcomes, stimulate societal progress, and position the life sciences sector as a pivotal driver of economic growth in the UK.

Examples of Innovative Products in the NHS

Let’s explore some examples of innovative practices or technologies within the NHS.


The use of telehealth technologies has expanded greatly, allowing remote consultations, monitoring of patients at home, and delivering care remotely, which has been particularly valuable during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Surgical Retractor

An innovative surgery retractor combines advanced design, materials, functionality, and safety features to improve surgical outcomes, streamline procedures, and enhance overall patient care in the operating room.

Mobile Health Apps

Apps for monitoring health metrics, medication adherence, and providing health education directly to patients’ smartphones, promoting self-management and preventive care.

Robotics in Surgery

Robotic-assisted surgery allows for more precise and minimally invasive procedures, reducing recovery times and improving patient outcomes.

Blockchain Technology

Used for secure sharing of patient records, tracking pharmaceutical supply chains, and ensuring data integrity in clinical trials.

In conclusion, innovation drives significant advancements in the NHS, enhancing patient care, operational efficiency, and healthcare delivery. Highlighted by collaborative efforts and supported by technological advancements like telehealth, robotic surgery, and mobile health apps, innovation is pivotal in shaping a resilient healthcare system.

Embracing change and leveraging these innovations will ensure continued progress and adaptation to future healthcare challenges.

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