Expert View: 'The Majority Of Our Innovation Success To Date Has Been Without The Benefits Of New Technology'

We discuss innovation with Steve Bradbury, Deputy Director, Improvement and Innovation at the NHS Mersey Care Trust


Ahead of his presentation at the  Chief Innovation Officer Summit in London on April 25 & 26, we spoke to Steve Bradbury, Deputy Director, Improvement and Innovation at the NHS Mersey Care Trust.

With over fifteen years' experience with the NHS Mersey Care Trust, Steve is the Deputy Director of Improvement and Innovation for the service. He has delivered talks at multiple healthcare conferences and is instrumental in driving change.

Do you think what we used to call innovation has actually become a transformational process?

I think this depends largely on the environment in which the innovation is taking place. Working in the NHS, the need for small scale/implemental innovation still exists but ultimately will not deliver the changes required in the micro, meso, macro systems. More and more there is a desire for large scale transformational change that will offer high-quality care delivered at low cost.

How have the realities of operating within your organisation impacted your innovation goals?

As an organisation that aspires to deliver ‘perfect care’ and has set extremely ambitious goals, the reality of day to day operations have impacted significantly. Innovation goals that are fully supported at Board level, and indeed were originated at Board level, are not always aligned to the innovation needs of frontline services. This adds another complexity to an already struggling workforce, juggling competing pressures, and increasing demand, whilst expected to deliver the highest possible quality care.

What impact has new technology had during the development your innovation plan?

New technology has perhaps not had the impact we thought it might. Whilst the Trust is developing a hugely innovative mobile phone app with partners in the United States, this is a very small part of our innovation agenda.

There may be several reasons for this. Lots of new tech, particularly medical technology tends to be aimed at the acute/general adult setting with mental health somewhat of an afterthought. This does appear to be shifting, however, it is still early days and the majority of our innovation success to date has been without the benefits of new technology.

Do labs and partnerships offer businesses opportunities that in-house innovation doesn't?

I think partnerships will always offer, in my sector anyway, access to opportunities that you would never find in-house. Whether this is in the private sector, academia or science we need to find ways of maximising the opportunities that exist and organisations like the Academic Health Science Networks (in the NHS) could prove valuable in making these connections.

Do you believe that technological advancements will change the way that the economy operates in the near future, and will this have a profound impact on your innovation objectives?

I think technological advancements will most definitely have an impact on the way that the economy operates, in fact, may well drive the economy. Within healthcare, technology will continue to lead to new and more incredible ways of dealing with illnesses that we never before dreamed of. In mental health, and the innovation objectives we have in Mersey Care, new technologies would need to have a profound societal impact before they truly enabled us to meet our goals. We continue to aspire.

You can catch Steve's presentation at the Chief Innovation Officer Summit in London on April 25 & 26.


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