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Health and social care innovation, research and collaboration in response to COVID-19

The COVID-19 pandemic was a catalyst which sparked new partnerships, accelerated research, and increased the speed at which innovations were adopted across the health and social care system. The Accelerated Access Collaborative and the Beneficial Changes Network (both part of NHS England and NHS Improvement) have commissioned Frontier Economics, Kaleidoscope Health and Care, and RAND Europe, to help learn lessons from this period and recommend how potentially beneficial changes can become day to day practice.

What’s it about?

The NHS England and NHS Improvement’s Accelerated Access Collaborative (AAC) brings together leaders from industry, government, regulators, and the NHS to identify and address barriers and get the best new treatments and technologies into the hands of the patients and clinicians who need them. The AAC is working with NHS England and NHS Improvement’s Beneficial Changes Network (BCN) to ensure that innovations are spread and adopted as we look to identify and understand the high impact opportunities from the COVID-19 response.

The Beneficial Changes Network has come together to build on the incredible ways in which people and systems have responded to COVID-19 through innovation, research and collaboration, whilst safeguarding effective health and care delivery.

To support this work, Frontier Economics, Kaleidoscope Health and Care, and RAND Europe have been commissioned to lead an independent review in order to:

  1. Understand the impact of the response to the COVID-19 pandemic in relation to innovation, research and collaboration across health and care
  2. Identify any methods/practices which would support the development and adoption of high impact changes identified across stakeholders/workstreams of the BCN, whilst considering the impact on health inequalities, and
  3. Propose recommendations to support current activities and inform future priorities of the AAC, NHS England and NHS Improvement and the wider health and care system

The team aims to identify potentially beneficial interventions, technologies and tools deployed during the pandemic which may bring further benefits to patients, clinicians and systems. There will be a particular focus on understanding and reducing any impact on health inequalities.

This work is ongoing from October to December 2020. It builds on the considerable work already undertaken by members of the Beneficial Changes Network since April 2020.

Who’s it for?

Across October and November we spoke to a wide range of stakeholders. This included stakeholder interviews as part of the evidence collection and analysis, and expert validation of the findings and recommendations at the end of the process.

What’s happening?

The team will review and synthesise available Beneficial Changes Network data alongside other published material in relation to innovation, research and collaboration across health and care in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. They will focus on a small number of potentially beneficial changes for deep dive analysis, bringing together informant interviews and document review.

The deep dives will highlight evidence of benefits unlocked, key barrier and enabler factors, conditions and contexts for success, likely sustainability of changes, and potential unintended consequences. They will include real-life vignettes of those changes in practice. A suite of monitoring metrics will be proposed to allow delivery, progress and outcomes to be tracked. Insights and learning from international contexts will also be offered to draw out common learning.

Three expert online workshops were held in late November and early December to engage key stakeholders, present evidence, share findings of the relevant deep dives, and shortlist a series of practical and pragmatic recommendations.

An online Summit was held in early December to bring together a range of health and care leaders to deliver priority recommendations for achieving sector-wide impact.

Synthesis of findings, deep dives, metrics, implications and high impact recommendations for action will be disseminated in a final report.

In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, radical changes were made to the way research, innovation and collaborative working were undertaken. This review will be essential in capturing the core mechanisms that led to high-impact changes which we can harness for the future. We will use the review to inform the AAC’s future priorities and meet our commitments: to get more proven innovations into the hands of clinicians and patients faster and to make the NHS a great place to innovate.

Matt Whitty, Interim Chief Executive of the Accelerated Access Collaborative

Since the start of the pandemic we’ve seen an incredible shift in the way that health and social care partners have come together to innovate and adapt in response to the challenges presented. This collaboration between the Beneficial Changes Network and the AAC gives us a fantastic opportunity to ensure that the impact of these changes are beneficial to all.

Dawn Chamberlain, Clinical Improvement Director, Beneficial Changes Network Lead