A common factor that successful, ‘innovative’ organisations share is that they have internal processes that are specifically designed to support and help in the development of innovative products and services. The NHS Institute for Innovation and Improvement has linked with world leading innovation and improvement experts and organisations to develop its own innovative internal work process (pdf, 135.28 Kb). All teams in the NHS Institute use this work process to help them develop solutions to some of the key challenges that face NHS organisations. The work process also places a strong emphasis on collaborative working with other NHS organisations and staff to ensure that the solutions that are developed meet the needs of those that will be using them.

The NHS Institute’s work process is structured so that teams must carry out particular elements of work within their projects, but it is also flexible enough to allow teams quickly to develop and test new ideas. The process helps teams to identify what the real issue that needs addressing is (this is often different to what people think is the issue). Then there will be a wide search of what is already known about the area, looking for good practice within the NHS, looking at what we can learn from healthcare in other countries, and also what we may be able to learn from companies that do not work within healthcare. Teams will work with NHS colleagues to use this information to develop and test new ideas, to see if they may be useful within the NHS. Rather than taking a long time to set up large scale tests, the focus is very much on doing things quickly, making changes and then testing again (this is called a ‘prototyping’ approach). Once some good ideas have been identified, these are then further developed and put into a format that will make them easy to use by the different groups of staff who will need to be involved.

This work process is continually being tested and developed, as the NHS Institute teams use it for their projects. The experience of the NHS Institute teams has shown that following the process can lead to the development of innovative approaches that support NHS staff in developing and improving services for patients.  We have also tested out the use of the work process with some NHS teams and three case studies that outline the changes made can be found here.  innovation process NHS case studies.pdf innovation process NHS case studies.pdf (2.02 MB).

The NHS Institute