This programme encourages employees in public sector organisations to support new ideas within health care.
The HELIUM project recognises there is a need across EU regions to increase the sustainability of healthcare systems that address societal challenges through innovation. The Innovation Scouts is to translate ideas into sustainable solutions that address specific healthcare problems and is underpinned by a robust working model. The Innovation Scout is a vibrant community of practice that gives an opportunity to begin to build a culture of innovation across our system. This initiative was developed in response to NHS England’s 5 Year Forward Plan “creating the conditions and cultural change necessary for proven innovations to be adopted faster and more systematically through the NHS.
The scout role is voluntary and they come from a wide range of health and social care organisations and are nominated by their Chief Executive for possessing the following characteristics:
• Being motivated to bring about improvements to patient outcomes, cost effectiveness and patient experience through the use of new techniques, products or treatments.
• Be a member or have access to the Executive team
• Have a comprehensive network throughout and outside of their organisation
• NHS England
• Health Education England
• Provider health care organisations
• Clinical Commissioning Groups
• Universities
• Local authorities

Resources needed

Funded by Innovation Agency core funding and awards.
Depends on group size, but 1-2 days per week staff time and face to face meeting costs (space, food, etc.), possible speaker fees, and maybe online sharing platform (some are free). These costs are really variable.

Evidence of success

• About 70 active innovation scouts across health, academia, local authority.
• Development of a ‘Putting Innovation into Practice’ support tool in the innovation pathway.
• Established an ‘Innovation Exchange’; a searchable database of proven innovations.
• Facilitated partnership working between industry and health care (i.e. 3dLife Prints).
• This initiative has been adopted in other Academic Health Science Network regions in England.

Difficulties encountered

Time and finance.

Potential for learning or transfer

A lessons learned from the process of developing this community of practice is that a) there must be active facilitation of the group to maintain motivation, b) they must be allowed to self-manage and set direction for topics that interest members, and c) the community of practice requires a degree of management if it is to be used to support diffusion of innovations, this includes
-Understanding the needs and setting up collaborative work.
-Maximises the institutional knowledge of individuals within a region or system
-Opens ‘fresh eyes’ for spotting and spreading innovation outside of usual channels
-Builds a network of like-minded, forward thinking individuals
-Creates a learning pathway for individuals not always tasked with innovation work
-Deepens relationships within existing partnerships
-Encourages civic growth through an innovation mindset

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Main institution
Innovation Agency, the AHSN for the North West Coast
Bedfordshire and Hertfordshire, United Kingdom
Start Date
March 2015
End Date


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