Research and Technology

30.01.18

Health Foundation awards largest-ever grant to healthcare improvement institute

A new research institute is hoping to create a world-leading asset for the NHS by improving the science behind healthcare organisation and delivery.

The Healthcare Improvement Studies Institute (THIS Institute), led by the University of Cambridge, follows the principle that efforts to improve care should always be based on the highest quality evidence.

Some evidence will be created by NHS patients and staff through citizen science methods in large-scale research projects, building a digital platform to crowdsource research ideas and collect data from NHS staff and patients, including their opinions on quality indicators and equipment design.

The institute is the result of the largest single grant ever made by independent charity the Health Foundation.

Professor Mary Dixon-Woods, director of the THIS Institute, said: “If you ask people to describe the future of healthcare, they might describe a shiny vision of new treatments and technologies.

“These kinds of innovations are important. But how healthcare is organised and delivered, including its basic systems and processes, has perhaps just as much impact, and sometimes more, on patient outcomes and experience.”

She explained that the institute is looking for expertise in new places to address the challenges of healthcare, which needs to involve a greater variety of people with diverse experiences.

“Some of this expertise will come directly from patients – us, you, me – working alongside healthcare staff and other professionals such as engineers and designers,” she added.

Dr. Jennifer Dixon, chief executive of the Health Foundation, explained that the UK population wants a sustainable, high quality NHS.

She said: “Understanding what works, in which contexts and why, is crucial, as is obtaining that evidence fast so it can be acted on.

“There couldn’t be a more important time to do this, and that is why the Health Foundation has put its money where its mouth is.”

The institute, which will formally launch tomorrow, will be based at the Cambridge Biomedical Campus, alongside Cambridge University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust and world-leading research institutes.

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