Week 5 reflection

Thank you for completing week five of the course. In this week we focused on the question of how innovations in healthcare arise and how knowledge about promising practices that develop in one setting might be disseminated and adopted more widely. Specifically, we looked at the role played by networks as a way of engaging clinicians both within and between organisations.

To explore the potential of networks you were first introduced to the wider issue of innovation in healthcare, differentiating between innovations in technology and in service design. We looked at where innovations come from and at how they are sustained (or not) over time. We also heard from Dr Lynne Maher, previously working for the NHS in England, how innovations may be more sustainable if there is a clear plan or leadership vision and also efforts to integrate changes into existing routines or ways of working. Lastly, Professor Oborn from Warwick Business School, raised questions about the need for radical change and innovation and whether, in some contexts, it makes sense to preserve organisational routines and practices that seem to work.

Drawing on these ideas, week five of the course went on to consider the role of networks in fostering innovation. You heard from Professor Currie, at Warwick Business School, how the differences in the structure of networks can either facilitate or hinder knowledge sharing and knowledge mobilisation. Specifically Professor Currie suggests that networks that emerge in a ‘bottom up’ way are likely to exhibit more extensive knowledge sharing. We then explored various examples of successful ‘managed’ networks, looking at a Clinical Information Network (paediatric care) a network with substantial resources – the Agency for Clinical Innovation (ACI) – in Australia.

A final objective of week five was to explore how the capabilities of these clinical networks might be enhanced. While this may have much to do with the resources available, the design of networks and style of managing could also be important. Here Professor Gerry McGivern, at Warwick Business School, explained how successful networks are often those that create open or ‘relational’ spaces to facilitate free exchange of ideas. We also returned to the Kenyan example look at how clinical engagement in networks is enhanced by non-judgemental or directive styles of management which aim to foster a sense of ownership and participation. To conclude, this week has emphasised the innovative potential of clinical networks which is so often ignored by policy makers and managers.

Next week we will move on to discuss how this potential might be further extended by also involving the users of healthcare (patients themselves) in decision-making.

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Leadership for Healthcare Improvement and Innovation

The University of Warwick

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