Blog - AHSNs working together, making an impact

Written by Tara Donnelly on 16 August, 2016

While times are tough it's clear from the latest Impact Report that across the country Academic Health Science Networks (AHSNs) are helping services deliver important healthcare improvements.

The Health Innovation Network is one of 15 AHSNs covering the full geography of the NHS in England. The following examples from the report show how collectively AHSNs are making a great return on investment – at the Health Innovation Network and beyond.

345 NHS providers and commissioners now using NIA innovations

The NHS Innovation Accelerator was set up last year to scale up some of the best ideas in healthcare. To date, some of the NIA’s key achievements include:

  • Scaling the innovations of 17 Fellows, with 345 NHS providers and commissioners now using NIA innovations, including apps, safety devices, online networks and other new technologies and services.
  • Over £17 million in funding raised, and 12 awards won.

AHSN and SBRI funding scheme 

The funding scheme run by the AHSNs and SBRI Healthcare (the Small Business Research Initiative for Healthcare) clearly demonstrates the benefit to companies of working with AHSNs. We host this programme to develop innovative products that address unmet health needs while creating UK-based industry and jobs. £20 million of support for UK health businesses has been invested to date. 

  • Over 180 contracts have been awarded and 20 products are already on the market. Activ8rlives, a home test for predicting lung infection flare ups is one of these products – developed by Aseptika, the self-care system gives patients with COPD early warning of chest infections. This means they can be treated effectively at home, avoiding unplanned hospital admissions.
  • Savings to the NHS from the funding scheme are estimated at around £50million per year.

Enabling 33,000 patients to self-manage

The Flo system uses the simple technology of text messages to very effectively support people to manage their own health and wellbeing. It has been shown to be a great tool in supporting behaviour change and better self-management of chronic disease.

  • Flo is helping people in many different ways: to manage their diabetes, to live with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, and even to support breastfeeding. Three AHSNs (East Midlands, North East and North Cumbria, and West Midlands) have helped to secure funding for trials, evaluation and further investment.
  • This system has been widely adopted across the UK, reaching over 70 health and social care organisations with 33,000 patients registered for a wide range of conditions, using clinically-approved pathways, a tripling from 11,000 registered patients in 2015.

A stroke a day prevented

Atrial fibrillation, or AF, causes an irregular or abnormally fast heart rate and affects around one million people in the UK – and it significantly increases the risk of having a stroke. It can be reduced by using anticoagulation medication.

  • Through programmes across the AHSN Network, we believe we’ve already prevented at least 365 strokes – one every day of the year – saving the NHS and social care almost £8.5m.
  • How did we do this? We worked with our teams and members to deliver programmes around the country, ranging from supporting primary care and increasing anticoagulation rates, encouraging the use of new technologies such as the mobile heart monitor AliveCor (as shown by Simon Stevens at the Confed conference – find out more here).

If you want to know how you can be part of this revolution in speeding up the best in health and care do have a look at the full report here.

Health Innovation Network successes

We have had a number of notable successes with projects across the Health Innovation Network. Here are some of our highlights:

  • Increasing Type 1 diabetes insulin pump uptake by 31% in south London since June 2014, meaning over 370 additional patients can now access pump therapy.
  • Our DeAR-GP case finding tool for care homes has been endorsed by the Alzheimer’s Society and Dr Alistair Burns, National Clinical Director for Dementia, has commended to all CCGs to use.
  • UK sites providing the ESCAPE-Pain programme (NICE approved exercise programme for joint pain) have increased from just a few in 2014 to 24 in 2015-16, with 13 of these based in south London.
  • Working with IMS Health, the Health Innovation Network is piloting their AppScript tool to help clinicians prescribe digital content.
  • Our NHS Internship Scheme now has over 50 internship placements across 14 organisations – and we currently have over 300 students on our books for internships. 
  • The DigitalHealth.London Accelerator programme has had great interest from companies and stakeholders keen to participate. Find out more about the programme here.
  • Our alcohol programme ran a ground-breaking film making competition called ‘Stories Behind the Bottle’ in 2015 to tackle the stigma people with alcohol problems can sometimes face from healthcare professionals.
  • Our Patient Safety Communities of Practice launched in April 2015, and are boundary crossing, integrative and rigorous in their practice sharing.
  • We held over 40 diverse and exciting events last year, with over 1,700 delegates.
  • We have integrated with the South West London Academic Health and Social Care System, which funds cutting-edge innovation projects, supports the education and training of the health and social care workforce, and helps to deliver cross-boundary care.