Sometimes I close my eyes and imagine how in a perfect world innovation in health and social care would be easy. Now don’t get me wrong I know how the system is being improved and that it takes time to really make changes. The NHS is a mighty big ship to turn around in a short time.
I came into nursing to make a difference, to do what other had done for me when I was ill. Nurses that sat with me in the middle of the night, listened to my story and gave me hope.
Being a patient really focusses the brain, you notice things, recognise good and bad care and you understand the things that matter. There were lots of painful experiences as a patient, too many to mention in a blog post. Yet simple things such as reducing the times that I needed to have a new cannula needle inserted in my arm would have made a difference.
I remember the dread that washed over me if my IV fluids stopped flowing, or if someone removed the cannula too early when it was still needed for my treatment. There were times when the IV would catch on something in the night and that could pull out the cannula, leaving the fluid to flow out over the bedclothes. The challenge for the clinician was to get another cannula in my arm by hopefully finding a vein in the middle of the night. It starts to become painful after a while when your veins decide they have had enough.
I started this post with the question – The tipping point, are we there yet? Much has been written by Malcolm Gladwell and others about the conditions required to get to the tipping point. A combination of factors that swing together as if by magic to make change happen. John Stepper work is a great case study for tipping points covering how he started a work out loud #WOL movement.. Check out his TedTalk for more details.
This week I started to believe that we have finally reached a tipping point for clinical innovators. Why do I believe this? Well, Monday I was part of a national tribe of innovators, entrepreneurs and the go to team for innovation in the NHS at the launch of the first ever Clinical Entrepreneurs programme. The event was inspirational and no one could doubt the passion for innovation in the room. Talking with Dr Tony Young on the night I was pleased to hear that the plan is for future programmes to extend beyond a medical model and include other clinical professions and patients. There is at last a real appetite for innovation in health and social care with a structure in place to support the difficult journey from having an idea to healthcare innovator and entrepreneur. BBC Click covered more on innovation in health, interviewing Dr Tony Young and showcasing the great projects that are being supported.
To put the national picture in context with what is happening at the frontline I want to zoom down now to my role as Clinical Innovation Lead at Salisbury NHS FT where I manage an innovation portfolio of products. As an innovator myself I have an understanding of the tenacity and enthusiasm you need to push through the challenges and finally ship a product. This helps me to challenge the status quo in a positive way and mentor other innovators. I have worked with a brilliant clinical innovator Richard Laughton who has been shortlisted for a patient safety award. Linking back to my patient experience Richard looked at a real patient concern, safety and cost issue by developing his innovation whilst working on a medical ward. The innovation called Safebreak, provides a low-cost way to prevent cannula being pulled out as identified in my narrative and ensure patient care not compromised. I intend to ask Richard to blog on this site about the device in the next few weeks. The device is incredible and shows that we need to support nurse innovators and give them the head space they need to develop their innovations. .
The Safe break device is unique in other ways too. Normally we would develop a specification for a prototype company, this would be an expensive and lengthy route to having an actual prototype in our hands to show to companies. We have a 3d printing company on site and I decided to see if we could disrupt the normal prototype route by printing the device. This reduced costs, enabled us to produce a prototype in a short time and adjust as necessary. Real disruptive innovation happening at local level.
To sum up my week in two ways – National and Local innovation has been helpful. It is my attempt to show that there is now a tangible tipping point with innovation in the NHS. My challenge to you is to reflect on this blog post and see what you can do to think different!