Embedding Innovation in Healthcare: official launch of the Centre for Healthcare Innovation Research (CHIR)

A unique interdisciplinary venture by Cass Business School and the School of Health Sciences at City, the new centre is focused on building a diverse community of partners to further its mission.

On Wednesday 30th October, City, University of London was delighted to host the official launch event for the new Centre for Healthcare Innovation Research (CHIR), a unique interdisciplinary venture by Cass Business School and the School of Health Sciences here at City.

The CHIR team works across a range of academic fields such as the health sciences, organisation studies, implementation research and the social sciences, and seeks to build a strong community that bridges disciplines and professions across City and our partners to support the embedding of innovations in healthcare.

Professor Andrew Jones, Vice-President Research and Enterprise at City welcomed everyone to the evening’s proceedings, citing the University’s 125 year history in the local area, it’s continued commitment to research excellence, and contribution to the social good.

Professor Andrew Jones, Vice-President Research and Enterprise at City

Professor Harry Scarbrough and Dr Charitini Stavropoulou, Co-Directors of CHIR, delivered a joint presentation outlining the need for the Centre, its mission and its structure. Professor Scarborough focused on how the Centre will tackle both the challenges of ‘spread’ and sustainable ‘implementation’ of health innovation in healthcare systems; not solely within the NHS, but health systems worldwide.

Professor Harry Scarborough, Co-director of CHIR (Cass) at City

Dr Stavropoulou discussed the current core research projects of the centre, which included collaboration with the Royal Marsden NHS Foundation Trust in the UK, and internationally around policy reform in China.  She reminded the audience that whilst research is the key pillar of Centre, it is by no means an ‘ivory tower’ just for academics, but aims to engage with diverse partners to create a wider community of researchers, professional groups, service users, companies and policymakers.

She added that the final pillar to the Centre’s mission is to enhance the educational proposition of City; currently of its MSc in Health Management (School of Health Sciences) and Executive masters in Medical Leadership (Cass) courses through internships and projects at the Centre, as well as dissertation supervision.

Dr Charitini Stavropoulou, Co-director of CHIR (SHS) at City

Keynote Speakers

Trish Greenhalgh, Professor of Primary Care Health Sciences, University of Oxford, was our first keynote speaker of the evening. She shared her insight into the challenges of embedding healthcare innovation at scale, reflecting on her depth of experience in the field.

Professor Trish Greenhalgh, University of Oxford

She stressed how rather than the process following an ordered repeatable structure, it is generally ‘messy’, and reminded the audience to beware of diagrams illustrating a smooth transition from point A to point B.  To illustrate its complexity, she shared the ‘nonadoption, abandonment, scale-up, spread, and sustainability’ (NASSS) Framework she co-developed in 2017.

She raised the importance of conflict, and how it is not necessarily a bad thing. Indeed Professor Greenhalgh said she looks forward to more research into how we can harness conflict productively, and how it can be channelled in a positive way to create multifaceted solutions which can be stronger and more vibrant than solutions which settle on a false consensus.

She also highlighted how we don’t do enough work on infrastructure, which includes not just the physical aspects she called ‘the material scaffolding’, such as the wiring and the buildings, but networked relationships and practices.   Professor Greenhalgh stressed that infrastructure is also patchworked, with new parts added to very old parts. Indeed, she highlighted how its past dependence extended to such factors as previously signed contracts.  She said she was amazed that when we think of health innovation, we very often look at the new technology without really focusing on how it will interface with the infrastructure that already exists.

Diagrammatic representation of the NASSS Framework

Professor Marcel Levi, Chief Executive Officer of University College London Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust (UCLH) delivered the second keynote speech, focusing on leadership in healthcare innovation.

Professor Marcel Levi, CEO of UCLH

Professor Levi celebrated the current ‘golden age’ of medical advancements we are living in, but warned that ageing populations are ‘collecting’ co-morbidities of chronic disorders, which is making medicine more difficult and more complex.

He stressed that a different doctor for every different disease is an unsustainable model that needs to be changed, citing the need for clinicians often described as either ‘superspecialists’, ‘versatilists’ or ‘deep generalists’, who maintain the deep knowledge of one area of medicine, but also have adequate knowledge of a range of other areas.

Reflecting on his experience in professional leadership, he noted that there is nothing wrong with accidental leadership, which happened to him as a junior doctor when working in a hospital. He shared how he looked around him and saw how a lot of things could be done better. Plus, he added it is not rocket science. Lots of learning can be done on the job, whilst some formal education also helps.

With the aim of dispelling a myth, he argued that being the ‘boss’ of an organisation doesn’t mean everybody does what you want, but it does allow you to start conversations, put things on the agenda, and is ultimately about convincing and enabling others and taking responsibility.

UCLH is working with The Alan Turing Institute to transform the delivery and organisation of their services.

Professor Zoe Radnor, Vice-President of Strategy and Planning at City, provided the concluding remarks to the event, saying:

"We can't do this in our 'ivory tower', as Harry said, as researchers, so what we absolutely need to do is do this with everyone, all stakeholders, patients clinicians, carers, all the people that are part of our healthcare systems today."

Professor Zoe Radnor, Vice-President of Strategy and Planning at City

Reflecting on the launch event, Harry Scarborough, Professor of Information Systems and Management at Cass Business School and Co-Director of CHIR said:

We had people from lots of different backgrounds at our launch event, including academic researchers, doctors and hospital managers, so it was really gratifying that so many of them applauded our focus on embedding innovation into front-line practice. This is absolutely critical to delivering the benefits of new technologies and treatments to patients. At the moment, too many innovations suffer from ‘pilotitis’; being taken up by one hospital or local area, but never spreading to other parts of the country.

Dr Charitini Stavroupoulou, Senior Lecturer in Health Management, School of Health Sciences at City, and Co-Director of CHIR said:

“Our research portfolio is informed by questions that are relevant to practitioners, policy makers and ultimately, patients and the public. We were therefore very happy to see so many attendees representing different sectors, disciplines and groups and we do look forward to collaborating with them.”

Find out more & get involved

For more information and to contact the Centre for Healthcare Innovation Research, visit their page on our website.

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