While ‘person-centred Care’ Has Been The Mantra For Many Years, Now More Than Ever Is The Time To Make It Actually Happen.”- Natasha Swinscoe
With over 20 years’ experience in the NHS, Natasha Swinscoe joined the West of England AHSN in 2015 and became Chief Executive Officer in 2018.
Under her leadership, the AHSN has earned a reputation for its ambitious, system-wide vision for healthcare innovation and transformation, improving patient care and driving economic growth.
The need to rethink how we deliver health and care services to improve the health of our population has never been more urgent.
Covid-19 has highlighted the stark health inequalities faced by too many in our communities.
Report after report has shown the disproportionate impact of the pandemic on – amongst others – Black, Asian and minority ethnic groups, young people, the LGBT+ community, and disabled people.
But important to remember these inequalities existed long before the outbreak of the coronavirus, which has served to shine a spotlight on them.
It is now incumbent on all of us working in health and care to make sure that we learn from this experience and that these unfair disparities in health outcomes for different communities do not become ‘hidden figures’ once more.
I believe all of us in the innovation space have a real opportunity here to use our skills and expertise, our creativity and connections, to rise to this challenge.
So while ‘person-centred care’ has been the mantra for many years, now more than ever is the time to make it actually happen.
The gauntlet I’d like to throw down to healthcare (and indeed all) innovators is this: what can you do to be a force for positive change in making health and care services more inclusive and equitable?
This is an exciting moment in time where we can explore how our new and emerging technologies and solutions can help to ‘level up’ some of the divisions in our society, designing healthcare products and services that place underserved communities at their very heart. If you are an innovator, I’d like to challenge you to:
• Ask more questions of diverse communities and genuinely take on board what they tell you
• Not make assumptions based on your own perspective; try walking in other people’s shoes
• Build in more opportunities for co-creation with all those with expertise, whether lived-experience, clinical or professional
• Be open to continued testing, adaptation and full-scale change of your initial ideas
• Be mindful of unintended consequences – both the benefits and drawbacks – of your innovation for different communities.
Research has evidenced that the more diverse we can be in our thinking and the more inclusive we can be in our approach to the creation, testing and developing of innovation (whether in healthcare or beyond), the more successful and impactful our innovation will be.
By being more inclusive in our thinking and engagement at every step of our innovation journeys, then the more diverse will be the people that stand to benefit. And I for one am extremely excited at this prospect.
West of England Academic Health Science Network