Chair, Health Innovation Network
The NHS must represent the communities it serves for it to truly cater for all. How we develop and adopt health innovation must also reduce — not widen — health inequalities.
Across all economic sectors, there is a strong correlation between diversity within an organisation and improved business performance. While the evidence tends to be business-focused, there are clear lessons for us in the health and care service.
Enabling inclusive innovation
At the Health Innovation Network, the innovation arm for the NHS, we are a collective of 15 organisations dedicated to ensuring the health service benefits from the latest in health innovation. Our workforce includes clinicians, academics, project managers, patient engagement experts, commercial specialists, health economists and data analysts, to name a few.
As a Network, we are passionate about ensuring we spread innovations that advance social change and promote a fair and inclusive society. This includes actively recruiting more innovators who identify as female and/or are from Black, Asian and minority ethnic backgrounds to our NHS Innovation Accelerator (NIA) as well as celebrating and promoting diverse role models in innovation through the Innovate Awards, hosted in partnership with NHS Confederation.
Across all economic sectors, there is a strong
correlation between diversity within an organisation
and improved business performance.
Tech made for diverse populations
We work collaboratively with innovators globally to ensure that their products are universally beneficial. This includes contactless blood pressure technology that works well on all skin types and culturally appropriate diet recommendations for diabetes self-management. We have built international partnerships to ensure that the NHS can benefit from innovations relevant to our diverse UK population.
How to ensure healthcare benefits all
We also play an active role in delivering innovation that tackles health inequalities. We support the uptake of innovative, evidence-based medical technologies focused on clinical areas of inequity such as sickle cell disease, cardiovascular disease and prostate cancer, which disproportionately affect more diverse, more deprived communities.
Such activities are strengthened immeasurably when there is diversity in the skills and backgrounds of the team delivering them because it allows us to look at the challenges differently — and with more people in mind.
There has never been a greater need for innovation in the NHS, but for transformation to benefit everyone, we must ensure that we have both diverse populations delivering the change and a commitment to delivering change for all.