NHS Test Beds programme

NHS Test Beds programme – initial impact and next steps

The Test Beds programme brings NHS organisations and innovators into partnerships to see how combinations of technology and pathway redesign can improve quality of life and experience for patients and carers.  Seven Test Beds from Wave 1 of the programme have brought testing and evaluation of their innovations to a close, and pioneered learning on how to set up NHS-industry partnerships, data sharing and information governance arrangements, as well as effective evaluation of real world innovations.  To build upon this learning, NHS England and the Office for Life Sciences have decided to fund Wave 2 of the Test Beds programme.  These new Test Beds will tackle a new set of health and care challenges, including learning and self-management support for people with diabetes.

Hear what to expect with Wave 2 of the Test Beds programme, and the difference Wave 1 has made to patients, carers, clinicians and innovators involved.

Sharing learning from Wave 1 of the Test Beds programme

The seven Test Beds from Wave 1 of the programme pioneered learning on how to set up data sharing and information governance arrangements, as well as evaluations of real world innovations. Their experiences have been captured in learning handbooks so that future Test Beds and the wider health and care system can benefit from their learning.

Information governance learning handbook

Information governance is a key enabler which supports effective sharing and management of information in the NHS. Establishing and maintaining information governance arrangements is a crucial part of the set-up and successful operation of digital innovation projects like Test Beds. The Test Beds programme team has produced a handbook which is designed to support projects like the Test Beds which implement combinations of digital technology and pathway redesign in order to improve patient outcomes.  The information governance learning handbook is relevant for programme leaders, project managers and information governance staff working on similar projects and will enable them to:

  • Understand common information governance challenges, like those faced by Wave 1 Test Beds, and benefit from their learning
  • Plan information governance activity across a project’s lifespan
  • Access tools and guidance that can support their work

Competition for a second wave of Test Beds

Following Simon Stevens’ announcement at NHS Expo last September (2017), NHS England and the Office for Life Sciences are delighted to launch the expansion of the NHS Test Beds programme with a competition to select a second wave of Test Beds.

Since 2016, seven Test Beds – NHS-innovator partnerships – have been building infrastructure and testing innovative combinations of technology and pathway development with the aim of improving patient outcomes and experience at the same or lower cost than current practice.

The first wave of the Test Beds programme was unprecedented in scale and included 40 innovators, 51 digital products, and five voluntary sector organisations.  Over 4,000 patients have been recruited to test innovations to date. Patients and healthcare professionals have been ‘active designers’, giving businesses their insights as product users, allowing businesses to make their products a better fit for the healthcare system and wider market.

The Test Beds currently testing innovations in the NHS have also produced valuable learning, particularly in regards to information governance and appropriate evaluation methods, from which the second wave will benefit. Further information on the current Test Beds programme, and the kind of projects we have funded, is available in the Story So Far.

Once selected, the second wave of Test Beds will be funded to implement and evaluate combinations of digital products with pathway development until March 2020, with up to £6 million available to allocate across successful partnerships.

About the second wave of Test Beds

The second wave of Test Beds has two strands: (1) up to £4.5 million will be available from the Office for Life Sciences to support successful Test Beds addressing relevant health and care challenges and (2) up to £1.5 million from NHS England to support Test Beds that tackle a challenge specifically on learning and self-management support for people with Type 2 diabetes. Both of these streams will be supported by one central programme team.

The health and care challenges tackled by prospective new Test Beds must be informed by national and local priorities, including:

Small and medium enterprises participating in a second wave Test Bed partnership will be remunerated for some costs in line with Innovate UK’s grant funding rules.

Successful applicants for the second wave of Test Beds will be supported by a national team consisting of members from across NHS England and the Office for Life Sciences, alongside subject specific guidance on technical areas, such as evaluation, information governance and partnership formation.

Details about the competition

The competition is being managed by Innovate UK with an online portal for expressions of interest open from Monday 26 February until Tuesday 27 March 2018.  There are separate expressions of interest portals for businesses and NHS organisations.

The first stage of this process is to ask NHS organisations / partnerships to identify a health and care challenge that could be resolved through digital technology and for innovators to set out how their product(s) will address this. This information will be collected during the expressions of interest phase and used to match businesses with NHS organisations at collaboration workshops ahead of the full opening of the competition in April 2018.

Shortlisting and final interviews for prospective Test Beds will take place in summer, and we expect to announce the successful Test Beds in September 2018.

Wave 2 Application/ Assessment Timeline

Application submission deadline: 20 June 2018
Line draw (following assessment): 23 July 2018
Invite to Interview: 25 July 2018
Interview date 1: 13 August 2018
Interview date 2: 14th August 2018
Interview date 3: 15th August 2018
Interview date 4 (diabetes projects only): 16th August 2018
Interview date 5 (diabetes projects only): 17th August 2018
Notifications to successful applicants: 24th August 2018
Projects set-up phase: 27th August to 28th September 2018
Projects Commence: 1st October 2018

Please note these dates are approximations which may be subject to change.

Further information