Innovation, News

Implementing digital innovations: Nuffield Trust shares top 10 tips

The Nuffield Trust has shared its learnings and lessons on how to integrate digital health innovations into health and social care services, using findings from a ‘large-scale evaluation’ in East London.

According to the think-tank, patients and staff are still not seeing the full potential and benefits of the digital technologies available, due to the complexity of integrating them and a lack of guidance for those who wish to.

As a result, Nuffield says, many innovations are ‘not embedded into care pathways effectively or adopted successfully’.

In response, Nuffield has published its 10 key lessons to help support everyone from policy makers, through to innovators and interested service providers, with advice on how to embed and integrate new tech successfully. The findings cover a broad range of areas in the innovation integration life-cycle, from encouraging co-development, through to emphasising ongoing data analysis beyond implementation.

The tips are based on real-world evidence from the NHS England Test Bed programme, specifically the Care City test bed site in East London, which trials ‘market-ready’ innovations.

Nuffield’s 10 practical lessons are as follows:

  • Dedicate sufficient time and resource to engage with end users
  • Co-design or co-production with end users is an ‘essential tool’
  • Identify the need and its wider impact on the system, not a need for a technology
  • Explore the motivators and barriers that might influence user uptake
  • Don’t ignore information governance requirements
  • Tailor the innovation along the journey
  • Ensure adequate training is built in
  • Ongoing data collection and analysis is key, post-embed and integration
  • Ensure there is sufficient resource, capacity and project management support to facilitate roll-out
  • Recognise that variation across local areas exists and adapt the implementation accordingly.

Alongside its top 10 list, there are three complementary sets of slides for different areas of care – domiciliary, primary, cardiac rehab – that act as case studies from and an evaluation.

For example, the primary care section looked at three innovation journeys – from implementation pathway, scaling and implementation costs, patient uptake levels and demographics, all the way through to patient outcomes.

Technologies tested include an automated digital programme providing cognitive behavioural therapy for insomnia patients, a digital behaviour change programme for the self-management of diabetes, and a smartphone-based diagnostic test for chronic kidney disease.

Domiciliary care innovation case studies outlined encompass early warning instruments for detecting vital signs and health problems and a smartphone app urinalysis kit, while cardio rehab focuses on digital lifestyle interventions through a cloud-based app.

To find out more about the benefits, barriers, challenges and successes of implementation for each innovation or broader topic area, visit to view or download the full report.

Citation: Sherlaw-Johnson C, Crellin N, Hutchings R, Oung C, Rolewicz L, Kumpunen S and Scobie S (2021) 10 practical lessons for implementing digital innovations – learning from the Care City test bed. Research report, Nuffield Trust.