The Eastern Academic Science Network (EAHSN) is here to spread innovation at pace and scale – improving health and generating economic growth.

As the only bodies that connect NHS and academic organisations, local authorities, the third sector and industry, EAHSN are catalysts that create the right conditions to facilitate change across whole health and social care economies, with a clear focus on improving outcomes for patients.

This means they are uniquely placed to identify and spread health innovation at pace and scale; driving the adoption and spread of innovative ideas and technologies across large populations.

What is the role of EAHSN?

As the only bodies that connect NHS and academic organisations, local authorities, the third sector and industry, they are catalysts that create the right conditions to facilitate change across whole health and social care economies, with a clear focus on improving outcomes for patients. This means they are uniquely placed to identify and spread health innovation at pace and scale; driving the adoption and spread of innovative ideas and technologies across large populations. Although small organisations – which ensures they remain flexible and responsive to emerging opportunities and challenges – they lead large regional networks. Hence their impact rests in their ability to bring people, resources and organisations together quickly, delivering benefits that could not be achieved alone. This Innovation Pathway summarises how AHSNs support the entire innovation life cycle.

How are AHSNs different and distinct?

Everything AHSNs do is driven by two imperatives: improving health and generating economic growth in our regions.

They are the only partnership bodies that bring together all partners across a regional health economy to improve the health of local communities.

They have a remit from NHS England to occupy a unique space outside of the usual NHS service contract and performance management structures. This enables us to foster collaborative solutions.

They use their local knowledge and harness the influence of their partners to drive change on the ground and integrate research into health improvement.

They are as interested in seeing healthcare businesses thrive and grow, creating jobs and bringing in investment to the UK, as they are in seeing the healthcare system improve.

What difference are AHSNs making?

Each AHSN works within its own area to develop projects, programmes and initiatives that reflect the diversity of their local populations and healthcare challenges. However, they all share the following priorities:

  • Promoting economic growth: fostering opportunities for industry to work effectively with the NHS
  • Diffusing innovation: creating the right environment, and supporting collaboration across boundaries, in order to adopt and spread innovation at pace and scale
  • Improving patient safety: using their knowledge, expertise and networks to bring together patients, healthcare staff and partners to determine priorities and develop and implement solutions
  • Optimising medicine use: ensuring that medication is used to its maximum benefit – improving safety and making efficient use of NHS resources
  • Improving quality and reducing variation: by spreading best practice they increase productivity and reduce variation, thereby improving patient outcomes
  • Putting research into practice: their strong links with academia mean they  are uniquely placed to support the translation of research into clinical practice
  • Collaborating on national programmes: their unified programmes focus on delivery of the SBRI Healthcare initiative (supporting SME interaction), the NHS Innovation Accelerator, Patient Safety Collaboratives and medicines optimisation.

Theirs is not a short-term challenge, but as the AHSN Network impact 2017 report demonstrates they are already making a difference for patients and the public, for innovators, for clinicians and for the healthcare system.

The impact they are making is already clear: for example a survey of EAHSNs commissioned by NHS England found that 73% of respondents would recommend working with us.

There is a wealth of information, resources and support available on the EAHSN website, which can be found using the link on the right hand side.