2022 has been a busy year for the AHSN Network as we continue to work to identify and spread health innovation at pace and scale across the NHS.

The past 12 months have seen the health and care system continue to respond to the impacts of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, and across the network, we have been working to deliver our national programmes and to support health and care by championing diversity in health innovation, patient and public involvement and sustainability and the environment.

Below you can read a roundup of some of our highlights from 2022, including the launch of three new national programmes, an overview of some of our key publications and a look back at the AHSN Network presence at national events.

Launch of three new national programmes

This year, we have proudly launched three new national programmes across the network, which all AHSNs are working to deliver in their region. You can find out more about each of these on their corresponding national programme page below:

AHSN Network Impact report demonstrates wide impact of AHSNs

In June, we released our Impact Report for 2021-22, which summarises the work that we have undertaken across the 15 AHSNs on national initiatives and areas of work over the last year. The report reflects on our national AHSN Network priorities and our impacts within these areas of work, offering a snapshot of our impacts from April 2021 to the end of March 2022 on the following six key priorities:

  • National innovation spread programmes
  • Improving safety
  • Accelerating patient access to NICE-approved technologies and treatments
  • Supporting innovators and driving economic growth
  • Working in partnership
  • Cross-cutting priorities of our work.

Patient Safety Plan published

As one of the network’s cross-cutting themes, patient safety is an integral part of our AHSN Network strategy.

Published in June, the dedicated patient safety plan sets out how AHSNs and Patient Safety Collaboratives (PSCs) contribute to delivering the National Patient Safety Improvement Programme and highlights AHSNs’ focus on accelerating innovation.

The report looks at how the AHSN Network’s patient safety strategy supports the wider NHS Patient Safety Strategy and offers examples of patient safety initiatives and partnerships in the safety domain where the AHSN Network is working to influence and offer expertise.

New innovator guide to Real-World Evaluation (RWE) released

In September, we published a practical guide for innovators developing Real-World Evaluation projects. The guide aims to support innovators in gathering real-world evidence to support scale up and spread of their ideas. It clarifies the RWE process for health and care innovators and offers useful tips on best practice.

Diversity and Innovation Progress and Learning Report published

In line with the key pledges that the Network made in 2019 to demonstrate our commitment to diversity in innovation, in June we released a report that reflects on our progress to date.

Featuring a series of case studies, the report highlights our role as AHSNs and introduces our refreshed set of equality, diversity and inclusion pledges and actions for 2022, which ensure that we are championing diversity in our organisation, our staff and our work.

NHS Innovation Service now available

2022 also saw the NHS Innovation Service become available to all in public beta. Developed by the Accelerated Access Collaborative (AAC) which is hosted by the Innovation, Research and Life Sciences (IRLS) team in NHS England, the service aims to accelerate the spread of promising and impactful innovations into the NHS. The AHSN Network has supported the AAC to deliver this in addition to leading on the needs assessment service for innovators.

The service is online and aims to support innovators with their innovations, at any stage, and in turn provide innovative solutions to NHS challenges. Innovators using the service can receive coordinated support from a range of organisations, including us, that have experience, knowledge and expertise in healthcare innovation.

‘How to involve and engage patients in digital health tech innovation’ guide for patient and public involvement and engagement in health tech innovation launched

Working with Boehringer Ingelheim and the University of Plymouth, in July we launched a new evidence-based guide to support digital health innovators and leaders to conduct meaningful patient and public involvement and engagement.

The ‘How to involve and engage patients in digital health tech innovation’ guide <link to NEWS STORY NUMBER N35> combines the results of a systematic literature review, advisory panels and multi-stakeholder input to produce four clear principles around patient and public involvement and engagement (PPIE). These principles make it clear how to involve patients in product innovation and make recommendations around critical issues such as data privacy, intellectual property, inclusivity, reimbursement, useability, and recruitment of patients for health technology entrepreneurs.

The guide not only helps with the initial digital development but also puts in place processes to support ongoing product improvement, better communicate a product’s value to the system, and ultimately improve patient trust in the technologies created.

AHSN Network sustainability events

In line with our ongoing commitment to sustainability and supporting a net zero NHS, we have hosted three webinars over the past year as part of a series of sharing and learning events that aim to share best practice innovations and initiatives.

You can watch a recording of each of these webinars below.

This event focused on reducing the environmental impact of asthma inhalers, concentrating on policies and pathways for adults.

In this session, experts from the NHS and industry discussed how we can reduce waste through innovation and the importance of supporting innovations that have a direct impact on the environment.

In this webinar, delegates heard from key speakers on how they have managed to reduce nitrous oxide wastage using easy to implement methods, along with new resources and data available to Trusts from the Greener NHS team.

Launch of the inaugural Innovate awards

In April this year, we launched our new national awards in partnership with NHS Confederation. The awards celebrate excellence in innovation and transformation across the health and care system. We received more than 190 entries from health and care teams across the country in the 10 award categories.

The awards ceremony took place on Thursday 29 September at the Leonardo Royal Hotel in Tower Bridge, London, and was hosted by technology thought-leader and Countdown arithmetician Anne-Marie Imafidon. The ceremony was attended by almost 400 NHS leaders, innovators and partners and we’re pleased to share that following the success of this year’s event, organisers at the AHSN Network and NHS Confederation have confirmed the intention for the awards to return in 2023.

The Innovation Zone at ConfedExpo

On 15-16 June, the Network hosted the Innovation Zone at ConfedExpo 2022. As the largest of the five feature zones at the event, we saw hundreds of delegates join us over the two days. Attendee highlights included joining our mini-theatre content sessions, meeting the 28 AHSN supported innovators in the zone and getting to know some of our partners in the Life Sciences Hub Wales, the NHS Innovation Accelerator and the team behind the new NHS Innovation Service, created by NHS England’s Accelerated Access Collaborative.

Experts from across the Network spoke at a number of sessions during the conference, including pop up university sessions focusing on topics ranging from sustainability to levelling up health.

The zone provided an opportunity for delegates to find out more about the work of the AHSNs and our partners and how we are spreading innovation at pace and scale. Watch recordings of the 13 sessions focusing on different aspects of health innovation.

The AHSN Network at HETT

In September, the Network exhibited at the Health Excellence Through Technology (HETT) show at the ExCeL London. We were joined by colleagues from our partners in the NHS Innovation Service and the Innovation Collaborative in addition to 16 AHSN-supported innovators, and delegates had the opportunity to speak to AHSN colleagues and partners.

The event was designed to support digital health transformation within the health and care sector by providing the digital health community with the opportunity to network, learn about best practice and key themes and hear from influential figures across the healthcare community.

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