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New guide on evaluating healthcare system innovations

Date: 23 May 2016

A new report published in Health Services and Delivery Research today is the first to comprehensively address the challenges faced by healthcare providers in evaluating system-level innovations in healthcare services in an evolving landscape.

If innovations can be better evaluated, then better, evidence-based decisions can be made by healthcare providers to improve the quality of health services in the UK.

Entitled ‘Challenges, solutions and future directions in the evaluation of service innovations in health care and public health’, the report is the result of a partnership between the NIHR, Medical Research Council (MRC) and the Health Foundation, together with Universities UK and Academy Health.

The report, edited by Professor Rosalind Raine at UCL and Professor Ray Fitzpatrick at the University of Oxford, brings together opinions from experts around the world following a two-day symposium in London last year. The event saw over 90 world-leading applied health researchers and methodologists debate how to address increasing complexity, diversity and pace of change within health systems. The report captures and advances those discussions in a series of essays which set out a repertoire of methodologies for evaluation.

Healthcare and public health services are under pressure from rising costs, an ageing population and chronic disease. Innovations in service delivery, needed to respond to these pressures, require robust and timely evaluation before they can be commissioned and adopted more widely.

In 2014, the NHS published its five-year forward view, highlighting the urgency of service reform. It has actively encouraged local and regional health services in the UK to experiment and bring about change and improvement in healthcare – with evaluative research recommended as part of this process.

Until now, there has been no clear consensus of how to evaluate innovation in this complex and continually changing landscape. This new report will act as a living document offering ‘state of the science’ methodologies for such evaluation.

‘With terrific support from key funders and impressive contributions from the community of leading researchers, the result is an invaluable route map for health services research to inform how we improve quality and outcomes of services’ commented Professor Ray Fitzpatrick.

Professor Jo Rycroft-Malone, HS&DR Programme Director and Chair of the HS&DR Commissioning Board, said:

'This exciting collaboration has brought a unique report providing an extensive overview of the challenges, and future possibilities in the delivery of healthcare. The evaluation methods included in this publication have the potential to lead to change and improvement of crucial healthcare services, which lies at the heart of the HS&DR Programme's ambition’

View the full report