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The process of educating and empowering future ready health service staff starts now Header Template

The process of educating and empowering future-ready health service staff starts now

7 minutes
Posted: 14-May-2024

Executive Chair of InnoScot Health, Graham Watson discusses why honing an innovative mindset earlier is vital to NHS fortunes

We have arguably never had greater need to place a strong focus on embedding an innovation mindset as early as possible in future members of the NHS workforce.

Entering the health service must now mean not only retaining the core attributes of care, compassion, resilience, and commitment but instilling advanced thinking that is designed to hone a modern, innovative workforce – keen to spot fresh opportunities to work smarter, integrate new ideas, anticipate change, and ultimately realise better outcomes for patients.

The key to progressing that is targeted grassroots entrepreneurial education which underlines the need for them to not only become clinical leaders, but also conveys the clear message that becoming innovation-minded and developing entrepreneurial skills represents a huge career asset.

Aiming to trailblaze in NHS innovation is no longer a side project; it must be considered central to job roles in a pivotal climate of recovery and transformation where all NHS workforce members are encouraged to contribute to an ethos of doing more with less.

Quality and relevant education is the means by which that shift can take place. It is the catalyst for redefining ambitions in universities, colleges, and from the very first day of NHS careers where continuing professional development (CPD) on learning innovative approaches has to be encouraged and facilitated.

From artificial intelligence (AI) to genomic sequencing and remote monitoring, there is incredible, limitless potential in a digital age that is ushering in astonishing developments underpinned by comprehensive data.

AI in particular is changing the way students learn, with its capability to tailor educational approaches to match each student’s unique needs for improved comprehension and retention, while assisting student surgeons through precise robotic learning tools, or simply helping to collate relevant information for further reading on their particular clinical interests.

Such is the onrush of AI’s fast evolution that the learning of AI principles and potentialities must now be a central tenet of education for healthcare graduates to ensure they are prepared for its likely integration into their future work.

Of course, telemedicine continues to also grow, making more efficient use of both clinician and patient time and marking a major shift in healthcare delivery, but its ability to facilitate remote learning, including simulating virtual patient interactions for students, is less widely known.

Formal NHS Scotland partner InnoScot Health believes that entrepreneurially focused education can not only directly inform future NHS careers but can also be vital to the development and testing of fresh innovations that will be used by the workforce.

As part of a collaborative programme aiming to develop fresh innovations that can help solve clinical problems, the organisation has helped to encourage what it calls “the next generation of health and social care innovators” by providing real world project briefs to teams of Heriot-Watt University engineering students while helping them build consulting and client engagement skills.

The promising ideas from NHS Scotland innovators were first submitted to InnoScot Health, which has since acted as their client and liaison point.

The learnings of the student engineering project teams – enhanced by clinical insights from Edinburgh Napier University’s nursing students and access to its specialised clinical simulation facilities – are now expected to lead to improved co-designed projects.

There are currently three ideas being developed, each originating from different health boards across the country – a catheter redesign from NHS Fife; cannula cuff from NHS Forth Valley; and wobble stool from NHS Grampian.

Education has now become a very important driver for InnoScot Health, as we consider it essential that we empower NHS Scotland innovators to acquire key learnings while providing essential support and motivation.

Practising what we preach in delivering highly accessible advice and expertise, we launched a series of free, interactive, educational webinars last year.

Graham Watson, Executive Chair of InnoScot Health.

Advocating the value and benefit of training and development in innovation and entrepreneurship across the health and social care community is incredibly important at this time if we are to create confident, empowered agents of change for NHS renewal.

Graham Watson, Executive Chair, InnoScot Health

The accessible, bitesize ‘lunch & learn’ sessions see InnoScot Health staff regularly sharing their insights on the innovation journey, while also providing a platform for inspiring guest speakers.

The ability to share post-event recordings on YouTube means that we offer a readily available repository of comprehensive knowledge to budding NHS innovators and forward-thinking students who want to enhance their learning around subjects ranging from navigating the innovation landscape to funding, regulatory and intellectual property advice, and topical issues such as entrepreneurship.

This educational resource – complete with a diverse range of speakers, from the Scottish Government’s former Innovation Minister Richard Lochhead to successful NHS innovators and RDI staff – is key to our strategy of inspiring, accelerating and commercialising impactful healthcare innovations, both now and in the future.

It also means increased innovator engagement, familiarising NHS workers with our team’s particular areas of expertise, while signposting them to further advice, support, and opportunities.

In line with the changing face of the NHS workforce, InnoScot Health aims to continue enhancing its educational resources by establishing a programme of healthcare-focused innovation and entrepreneurship training drawing on expertise across NHS, academia and industry.

Last year, InnoScot Health also became part of a forward-thinking group of collaborative organisations supporting Scottish innovators taking part in the NHS Clinical Entrepreneur Programme (CEP).

The programme sees innovation-minded NHS staff selected from across Scotland to take part after a competitive assessment process, and its educational focus and resources can be of huge benefit to budding health service innovators.

Advocating the value and benefit of training and development in innovation and entrepreneurship across the health and social care community is incredibly important at this time if we are to create confident, empowered agents of change for NHS renewal.

An NHS Scotland member of staff framed with InnoScot Health branding elements and the green branded colouring, representing the 'ideas' concept.

Got an idea?

Every innovation starts with an idea. Ideas from people like you. People working within health and social care who can spot opportunities, solve problems, and identify ways to make things better.

If you have an innovative healthcare idea, then InnoScot Health would like to hear from you. You can start by booking a consultation or submitting your idea.


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InnoScot Health works in partnership with NHS Scotland to identify, protect, develop and commercialise new innovations from healthcare professionals. Registered Number: SC 236303. Registered address: 272 Bath Street, Glasgow, G2 4JR
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