For NHS staff with innovative ideas, the key to success is to create a powerful value proposition. Sig Mikladal, senior project manager at TRUSTECH, the NHS innovation experts, shares the best way to support staff to develop strong value propositions and why it can make or break an idea.
At TRUSTECH we have a close hand in helping NHS innovations thrive. Many remarkable ideas originate from people who work in healthcare, and as NHS innovation experts, one of the areas we specialise in is helping staff turn their ideas into new services or technologies to improve patient outcomes.
Ensuring a constant innovations pipeline is imperative, and senior leaders can foster and support innovation in a number of ways; by encouraging staff to share their ideas in the first place and to think about the actual value that their innovative ideas could have. Ensuring a strong value proposition for instance is critical to success.
What is value proposition?
The value proposition conveys a clear, jargon-free statement about what makes an innovation attractive, why it’s unique, and what problem it addresses. Sounds simple enough, yet the real challenge is to allocate sufficient time and effort to articulate a compelling message.
In today’s NHS, the emphasis on value dominates. This generally centres on quality such as patient experience and clinical outcomes, efficiencies in terms of operational KPIs and utilisation of resources, and finance from maximising income and minimising expenditure to new income streams and appropriate funding.
To address these areas, senior leaders and line managers can guide staff in the right direction by emphasising the five key features of a robust value proposition. This will help ensure their innovations stand out in the crowded, well-established healthcare market.
Value proposition: five steps
Innovators must focus their attention on the five key features that underpin a powerful value proposition:
1. Address the issue
Anyone working in the NHS can come up with innovative ways to solve problems they identify in their field of expertise. Encourage these staff to fully describe the issue faced by NHS organisations or patients, and the scale of the problem that is being addressed, such as the number of patients affected or the cost of the current solution.
Persuade staff to think beyond your own organisation and whether other NHS organisations face the same problems, or if it’s indeed unique to your locality. Leverage their unique expertise and knowledge and press them to ask questions like: “What is the cost to the NHS of doing nothing?” Think further afield too, is the problem evident outside of the NHS or overseas?
2. Summarise the solution
Advise your in-house innovators to explain how the proposed product or service provides a solution to the problem. They will need to detail how the new product can address all, or some, of the issues.
Innovations help solve various problems and issues in the NHS, and even if it does not necessarily re-invent the wheel, a new or improved solution for an already existing concept can be equally as valuable. Here, the question to consider is: “How does the proposed solution offer an advantage over currently approved or existing solutions?”
3. Clarify the benefits
Stress the need to identify, demonstrate and differentiate the innovations’ advantages.
Time should be spent ensuring there isn’t an existing solution to the problem currently available, or where there are solutions, understanding how the idea is an improvement over existing solutions. Think about the clinical effectiveness. Detail the clinical benefits for patients delivered by the innovation, over and above current clinical practice; what are the unique selling points?
4. Crunch the numbers
Here detail the financial case, and cost effectiveness. Focus attention on the resource use and cost savings for the healthcare system delivered by the innovation over and above current clinical practice; it’s about costs versus savings.
Address questions such as: “What is the cost of this solution and how will it be funded?”, “What savings will the innovation realise?” or “What benefits will be delivered?”
Of course, cost will always be a major consideration when adopting new innovations. Sometimes, a product or treatment may cost more per unit than current methods. However, if the innovation reduces a patient’s length of stay in hospital or drastically reduces procedure failure rate, it may represent an overall saving.
5. Demonstrate evidence
To be considered and successfully adopted, an innovation has to be supported by clinical evidence demonstrating how it can make a positive difference to existing treatment pathways. Therefore, substantiate all claims with real evidence demonstrated from validated evaluations, and perhaps even consider whether you have the resources to influence a small-scale test.
Despite the current financial climate, patient care will always be the most important factor when selecting the best innovations.
Support your innovators
Senior leaders are in a prime position to champion innovation inside the NHS and to encourage and support individuals to develop their ideas. Over the years, thousands of healthcare professionals turned inventors from across the sector have revealed some ground breaking, world class ideas; isn’t it a major accolade to have an innovation adopted in the NHS that was originally created and developed by an innovator in your NHS organisation?
Sig Mikladal is senior project manager at TRUSTECH. Follow the organisation on Twitter @TRUSTECH_NHS