Innovation supply and demand: never the twain shall meet?

Dr Amanda Begley
Co-founder of the NHS Innovation Accelerator (NIA), Dr Amanda Begley

Co-founder of the NHS Innovation Accelerator (NIA), Dr Amanda Begley, introduces a new series of research and real-world insight from the NIA, which addresses what it will take for supply and demand for innovation in healthcare to be better matched.

I am repeatedly inspired by the great work happening both within and alongside the NHS to improve health and healthcare in this country.

The exceptional NHS Innovation Accelerator (NIA) Fellows, along with the many others that are pioneering high impact healthcare innovations independently, demonstrate this. For example, ERAS+ helps patients and families to better prepare and recover from major surgery, reducing complications and helping patients to get home faster. Serenity Integrated Mentoring (SIM) seeks to join up the police and mental health teams to understand and help manage high intensity behaviour, through a combination of clinical expertise, compassion and appropriate boundaries to those with complex needs. Meanwhile, Join Dementia Research aims to accelerate the progress of dementia research to improve treatment and care for those affected.

The innovations on the NIA span pathways, services, training, digital and devices and offer real contributions to bridging the three ‘gaps’ identified in the NHS Five Year Forward View:

  • Health and wellbeing: getting serious about prevention and community engagement

E.g. Craig Newman’s Epilepsy Self Monitor, Ben Underwood’s Brush-DJ, Penny Newman’s Health Coaching

  • Care and quality: re-shaping care delivery, harnessing technology and reducing variations in quality

E.g. Rupert Dunbar-Rees’ Outcomes Based Healthcare, Bernadette Porter’s Neuroresponse, Adrian Flowerday’s ArtemusICS

  • Funding and efficiency: to reach financial balance and realise system efficiencies

E.g. Tom Whicher’s DrDoctor, Paul Volkaert’s Nervecentre, Julia Riley’s Coordinate my Care

The Five Year Forward View and strategic initiatives from NHS England, including Sustainability and Transformation Partnerships (STPs), articulate the need for transformation in healthcare. The NHS even has aspiration to become: “one of the best places in the world to test innovations”.

Why, then, is it so difficult to match supply to demand, and see the adoption of new and better practice happen at scale through the NHS?

Much has been written on the theory of scaling innovation. The NIA is at the forefront of experiencing the challenges and enablers in real time, and as such, offers a unique opportunity to understand what it takes to spread innovation in the NHS.

The NIA and its 25 fellows are at an exceptional intersection between ‘the system’ and innovative healthcare solutions. Throughout the coming year, we are going to be surfacing the insight held within the Fellows’ experience, and connecting with the system leaders who are trying to help them realise the shared ambition of better care at lower cost.

We will be asking key questions including:

  • What role do alliances and networks play in scaling innovation?
  • What is the role of the patient in scaling innovation?
  • How do we build sustainable business models for the long-term adoption of innovation?
  • What role does evidence play in decision-makers’ choices to adopt an innovation, and therefore what does great evidence look like?

We’ll be sharing the insights we surface with innovators, patients, NHS managers and senior system leaders, and are keen to start a conversation about how to match supply and demand of innovations in the NHS in order to provide the very best care to patients.


As we seek to understand this complex landscape further, we’d love to hear your thoughts and reflections.

Join the conversation on Twitter @NHSAccelerator using the hashtag #innovationspread

Our first output collaborates insight and learning from the first quarter of the NIA’s 2016-17 Fellowship, and focusses on engagement and alliance building. Take a look here.

The NHS Innovation Accelerator (NIA) is an NHS England Initiative delivered in partnership with the Country’s 15 Academic Health Science Networks (AHSNs). It supports delivery of the Five Year Forward View by accelerating uptake of high impact innovations for patient, population and NHS staff benefit, and providing real time practical insights on spread to inform national strategy. For more information visit