NHIP: Asking the right questions?

In this blog, NHIP Chief Operating Officer Peter Noble discusses the role and function of Newcastle Health Innovation Partners and the benefits AHSCs bring to regions.

Establishing a new Academic Health Science Centre (AHSC) is not a trivial exercise. Having navigated several high-level bars to secure national accreditation though an international panel of experts, you then need to demonstrate how the system will function differently to create new value for citizen benefit. Often Centres at an early stage of their development raise the question “what will the AHSC do for me?”, rather than “what I can do for the AHSC?”

Given accreditation of Newcastle Health Innovation Partners joins a club of the world’s best AHSCs, it might be helpful to reflect on the following questions:


Why do we have Newcastle Health Innovation Partners?

There are two main benefits:

  • AHSCs produce higher quality research, reduced mortality rates, lead on cutting edge research and education, achieve higher staff and citizen satisfaction, accelerate research and innovation at a faster pace than other centres and rapidly learn from other institutions and which improves patient and citizen outcomes. Do we need to say more!
  • AHSCs exclusively focus on new activity and value that individuals and teams cannot do alone within their own organisations.

AHSCs do not just reflect the world’s best ranking institutions through their performance and outcomes, they move at pace and culturally adapt their working practices and culture to improve health outcomes.


How should Newcastle Health Innovation Partners function differently to existing ways of working?

These are the main considerations:

  1. Individuals, teams and organisations proactively consider how they might solve problems and target collective opportunities that need to be addressed. What might I personally bring to NHIP is an important question!
  2. It is important that Partners (the five organisations that make-up NHIP) are able to ‘let go’ at all levels of their institutions and seek the wider benefit to society that comes from collaboration and integrated working. Where this occurs there can often be spectacular benefits to the overall ecosystem and to Partners themselves. The mechanisms to achieve this are greatly enhanced by:
    • Pooling resource
    • Asking individuals to lead activities on behalf of others across the system
    • Recognising that NHIP was accredited on its capabilities of regional research and innovation assets and function that thinks globally and functions locally, across the city/region.

Over the past ten to fifteen years, rapidly growing AHSCs such as Manchester, Melbourne, Singapore, Toronto and a number in North America have exercised their maturity and capability to move at pace, build regional presence and rapidly adopt structures to accelerate growth, performance and improve health outcomes.

NHIP has not yet reached its second birthday but there is growing intervention from individuals and teams on new value activity. Placing a traditional fit around organisations and entities will not fully exploit this ‘new collaborative value’. So perhaps we can shift the question on what will the AHSC do for me to what I am doing for the AHSC? Where this latter approach has been applied over the past 12 months, the results have been very encouraging. Here are a few examples:

  • New educational initiatives in long-term conditions, digital literacy, the emergence of new career pathways and collaborative grants across partners.
  • In research; new satellites in robotics and advanced therapeutics; pooling of infrastructure (Bio-Banking) and ways of strengthening the infrastructure for research translation and innovation.
  • In our People and Culture programme, addressing new approaches to protect academic time, addressing classical barriers across the HE/NHS Interface and considering the emergence of new roles for service delivery.
  • Adopting a more consistent approach of a number of high level case studies which are now present on the NIHR national website.
  • Delivering ‘lightning talks’ designed by staff for staff, on cutting edge practice in research and education and establishing a growing network of international events so we can learn and share with others.
  • Cultivating a more joined up approach to digital through the National Innovation Centre for Data.
  • Establishing a more joined up approach to industrial engagement across partners through case studies and better systems of connectivity from discovery to adoption and implementation.
  • How our approach to patient and citizen engagement will provide new value in industry, where case studies demonstrate improved outcomes and where our future annual reports are built around patient and citizen impact studies.

Come and join us and make it happen.

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