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At the Q community event on 18 and 19 November 2020, we explored what it will take for us to sustain momentum behind the positive service changes that have accelerated during the pandemic.

The event started with a call to update our strategies for achieving impact through improvement and focus on some on the big issues thrown into relief by COVID-19. We shared the findings from Q’s survey into the role of improvement during this time to bring this to life, alongside sessions exploring how improvement approaches have helped in a crisis.

NHS England and Improvement provided an overview of key themes emerging through 3000 submissions describing positive change since March. The energy and stories shared through the event are testament to this proliferation of service innovation.

Conversations often turned to the enablers of change underlying innovation in many diverse settings. We regularly touched on the need for a balanced assessment of the potential of new service models alongside commitment to really understand what’s needed for them to work for all.

The shift to virtual working and digital service delivery was covered in a number of sessions. There was discussion throughout of the need for iterative evaluation and redesign, with greater involvement of patients and the public than Q’s survey tells us has been happening so far.

Here you can browse the sessions from the event on this theme. As the breadth of content shows, we made connections across themes, countries and service areas. While this can make it hard to draw neat boundaries around specific issues, it brings richness and reach to the discussions and, I predict, to the action that follows.

Watch the sessions

Reflecting on our experiences of COVID-19: a supportive space for sharing and learning

COVID-19 has changed all our lives, personally and professionally. This session provided a space to connect with each other to reflect on what recent months have meant for us individually and as a diverse community of improvers.

Effective digital change

COVID-19 is accelerating the shift to virtual care and use of technology. Implementing digital innovation in a way that benefits all demands we consider service design, technology and roles in an integrated way; but this is rarely the case. We’ve formed new teams quickly as a result of COVID-19: how can we optimise the way different aspects of service change come together over the coming months? This session explores what the digital revolution we’re in the midst of means for the work we’re doing now as improvers.

Implementing technology in a complex system

To effectively implement technology in health care we need to recognise that processes, technology and roles co-evolve. The success or otherwise of technology projects is also heavily influenced by the team, organisational and wider context. Hear from Trish Greenhalgh, Professor of Primary Care Health Sciences at Oxford University: a leading expert on the adoption of service and technology change in health care. Understand more about the theory and practice behind calls to take a more integrated approach to digital change in a complex system.

Scaling and spread: how do we use what we know in the context of COVID-19?

There’s a critical imperative to make the most of key service innovations that have accelerated through COVID-19. How can we use what we know about how to adopt innovation successfully, including the hard work required to adapt interventions to different contexts, to ensure the NHS continues to spread and embed these innovations effectively for the long term? Tim Horton, lead author of The Spread Challenge shares top tips on how to approach scaling and spread well in the context of COVID-19.

How QI is helping through this crisis

Improvement methods have come into their own for many people during the pandemic. In this session, Amah Shar and John Fitzsimons explore the way that improvement methods help address the challenges of rapidly unfolding crisis situations. Discover the ways QI techniques are being used by other Q members to introduce changes under pressure, and take away inspiration for your local work.

Beneficial changes: Learning from COVID-19

Learn about some of the system-wide beneficial changes which came out of the first wave of the COVID-19 pandemic, consider some of the innovations which have been highlighted in primary and secondary care and hear reflections on their alignment with system priorities. Explore opportunities for innovation and scaling that can help work you’re doing locally now and consider how we can maintain momentum behind innovation despite current pressures on the system.

What are the big priorities for improvement looking forward?

COVID-19 is having a profound impact on health and care and on how we think about improving it. This session sets out a vision for the impact we should be seeking through improvement given what we’ve learnt since March and the urgent need for radical change to face future challenges. Find out what hundreds of Q members said we should be prioritising, and think about where we need to focus individually and collectively.

What Q said about improvement during COVID-19: highlights from Q’s annual insight survey

Drawing on results from over 200 members’ experiences, this session explores the role improvement is playing during COVID-19. What methods are being used most often and for what purpose? Are broader improvement approaches and mindsets more important? What contexts and support are enabling collaboration and improvement and what is holding it back? What do members think this means for the future of improvement, their organisations and those leading improvement at the system level? This session is an opportunity to step back, look at what your peers have been doing and spot things that might help your work.

Confronting the challenges ahead: what’s the real scale and nature of change needed in health and care?

The health sector is in the midst of unprecedented upheaval. Achieving sustainable health and care will require bold action on workforce and service design, and making the most of accelerating technological advances, all while keeping current services running. This session provides a deep-dive into key patterns in the health service: support, demand, supply and changes in professional roles, and approaches to management and strategy. Take some time to reflect on broader changes that set the context for improvement work. How can we ensure our improvement efforts are equal to the ‘big picture’ changes and challenges ahead?

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