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“How to innovate in health – applying implementation sciences”

By November 24, 2023No Comments

The Academy of Medical Sciences hosted the 2023 Sir Colin Dollery Lecture in London on Thursday called “How to innovate in health – applying implementation sciences.”  

Sir Colin was a Professor of Clinical Pharmacology and Medicine, and a founder Fellow of the Academy. The lecture is named in memory of Sir Colin’s contribution to biomedical and health research and this lecture formed part of the wider lecture series from the Academy’s FORUM Programme. The FORUM Programme provides a platform for individuals from across academia, industry, the NHS and Government, and the wider healthcare sector, to meet and discuss opportunities, technology trends and strategic choices for healthcare.

The keynote speaker was Prof Jo Rycroft-Malone OBE, who is the Executive Dean of the Faculty of Health and Medicine at Lancaster University.  Her talk explored the themes of implementation science and how we can apply it to potentially deliver innovation into healthcare, looking at how to bridge the gap between research findings and what to put into practice. The relevance here for our industry is around the successful implementation of new tests and technologies into the diagnostic pathways of healthcare systems. It is really important to look at helping to improve patient flow-through without introducing further complexity.

Often the transformation of healthcare processes and the introduction of innovation can be stubbornly challenging to implement and Prof Rycroft-Malone began by using history to illustrate her point, sharing the story of Dr James Lind who in 1753 noted that feeding scurvy patients orange and lemon juice delivered observed improvements. It was not until 1795 that the Royal Navy began to distribute lemon juice to its sailors (1 year after Lind’s death!) – We can all agree that we do not want to see it take 42 years for the implementation of innovation into our healthcare pathways!

Prof Rycroft-Malone’s talk then went on to emphasise the importance of realising the potential health benefits of such innovations in a cost- and time- effective manner. Implementation sciences can address the gap between research findings and what is put into practice, by helping to identify and address barriers to the adoption of findings into healthcare settings. These disciplines can help ensure that patients benefit from new evidence and novel innovations, while also translating to wider societal benefits, such as improved efficiency and reduced costs in the healthcare system.

Following the talk there was an expert cross-sector panel who discussed the challenges and next steps of facilitating the uptake of evidence-based practices into the UK healthcare system, this event and panel were recorded so take a look at the Academy’s website for more information, and to see dates for upcoming events www.acmedsci.ac.uk

Ben Kemp