Understanding the pandemic response: an independent review into research, innovation and collaboration

The Beneficial Changes Network (BCN) and the Accelerated Access Collaborative (AAC) worked together, to better understand findings of innovative work, collaborative processes and good practice that has happened at the front line in response to COVID-19 within health and social care. This collaboration helped identify and prioritise the high-impact changes to sustain for the future, through evaluation, shared understanding and lessons learnt.

The AAC brought together industry, government, regulators, patients and the NHS to remove barriers and accelerate the introduction of ground-breaking new treatments and diagnostics which can transform care. The AAC supported all types of innovations: medicines, diagnostics, devices, digital products, pathway changes and new workforce models.

BCN and AAC jointly commissioned review

The AAC and the BCN jointly commissioned an independent review into research, innovation and partnership working in relation to the pandemic response. The review was to understand the impact of the response to the pandemic in relation to health innovation, health research and partnership working across health and care, to learn lessons from this period and recommend how potentially beneficial changes can become day-to-day practice.

It involved people with lived experience and over 80 stakeholder organisations across health and care. The review focused on the impact of the response to the COVID-19 pandemic in relation to innovation (particularly innovation in service delivery), research (particularly clinical research) and collaboration. There was a particular focus on understanding and reducing any impact on health inequalities.

Six core findings were identified, all of which spanned across the three fields of innovation, research and collaboration:

  1. Clarity of purpose: a system-wide shared understanding of the need for action mobilises partners quickly and breaks down barriers to collaboration.
  2. Leadership: beneficial change is accelerated by leadership across organisational levels, and supports innovation and collaboration.
  3. Inclusion and personalisation: addressing health inequalities requires greater inclusion and involvement of diverse perspectives, and the better personalisation of services to different populations.
  4. Skills and capability: change was enabled by those who had appropriate skills to solve problems, then adapt to new ways of working.
  5. Data and technology infrastructure: critical enablers of rapid change include the safe and timely sharing of data, and appropriate and resilient technology infrastructure.
  6. Evidence-based decision making: for the impacts over time to be fully understood, there is a continuing need for robust evaluation evidence to understand what works, for whom and under what circumstances.