IGHI’s Centre for Health Policy host side event at the NHS Health and Care Innovation Expo 2014.

This week, during the annual NHS Health and Care Innovation Expo, IGHI’s Centre for Health Policy and the Association of Academic Health Centers International (AAHCI) jointly hosted a side event focusing onAcademic Health Science Networks (AHSNs).  The aim of this meeting was to provide an international platform to reflect on the work and the role of the UK AHSNs one year on since their implementation. The Academic Health Science Centre (AHSC) movement started in the US more than 80 years ago and this meeting was an opportunity to learn from the work of the AAHCI bearing in mind they already have a 79 year head start.

The AHSN in England are very much at the beginning of their journey and were first introduced in 2013 by the Department of Health.  Their aim is to strengthen NHS collaboration in order to improve patient outcomes as well as contributing to economic growth. Their vision is to transform health and healthcare by putting innovation at the heart of the NHS.  These networks also intend to foster and spread joint research, learning, development and best practice among geographically proximate groups of providers and commissioners.

Our panel sessions combined UK and international experts and stimulated an interesting discussion surrounding the role of AHSNs as we look to the future.  Its focus was on the part AHSNs play in the innovation of translational research, population health, leadership and education and training.  We heard from panel members and speakers including Dr Steven Wartman, President of the AAHCI, Dame Sally Davies, Chief Medical Officer for England, Professor Victor Dzau, President and CEO of Duke University Health Systems, Professor Martin Paul, President ofMaastricht University and Professor Dermot Kelleher, Imperial’s Dean of Medicine and Chairman of Imperial’s Academic Health Science Centre’s Joint Executive Committee.

Professor the Lord Darzi, Director of IGHI and the Centre for Health Policy said “Getting the best from AHSNs will require new ways of working and sometimes setting aside old practices.  Our event provided the ideal platform on which to discuss the role of ASHNs and to learn from international colleagues in order to achieve the desired outcome – improved health and wellbeing for all”.

Dr Steven Wartman, President of the AAHCI said “this event was an excellent opportunity to discuss the future of AHSNs and their role in the British healthcare system.  In order for the AHSN systems to run well, we need collaborations that work and teams that are led by transformational leaders in order to inspire health professionals to work together well and at their best”.

In summing up the event, Imperial’s Professor Dermot Kelleher noted that “however difficult, groups must sacrifice short term goals for long-term benefits for patients.  This inaugural event provided a key opportunity to hear from our international counterparts on the role of AHSNs.  Our intention is to make it an annual meeting working on fine tuning the systems and processes currently in place for these highly complex and multidisciplinary networks that are AHSNs’”.