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Q Lab workshop, Birmingham

About Q Lab UK

What is Q Lab UK?

Q Lab UK offers a bold new approach to making progress on health and care challenges. Working on a single challenge, we bring together organisations and individuals from across the UK to pool what is known about a topic, uncover new insights and develop and test ideas. Previous projects have focussed on peer support, and mental health and persistent back and neck pain.

For a more comprehensive overview of the Lab, read our ‘What is the Q Improvement Lab?’ essay.

Alternatively, watch our 90-second video:

What methods does the Q Lab UK use?

Q Lab UK draws on approaches and tools from quality improvement, and disciplines such as social innovation and design. Using a range of methods means that we use approaches that are best suited to the outcome that we are trying to achieve.

We also draw on Q’s Creative Approaches to Problem Solving resources and Liberating Structures tools.

What does the Q Lab UK hope to achieve?

During the Lab’s first year an impact model was developed which identifies four direct areas of impact that we aim to achieve:

  • Build a deep and rounded understanding of the issue
  • Generate and test ideas for improvement
  • Develop skills and capabilities for action
  • Disseminate learning widely

If you’d like to learn more about what we hope to achieve and how we aim to achieve it, take a look at our ‘Impact that Counts’ essay – an overview of how the Lab seeks to support people and make change happen.

Who does the Q Lab UK work with?

There is a small, dedicated team that work on the Lab but collaboration is central to its approach; working across geographical, organisational and professional boundaries to bring together a diverse set of people with relevant experience and expertise.

The Lab also works in partnership with organisations who bring expertise and are best placed to take forward ideas and insights that emerge from the Lab process.

The Lab is currently working with NHSX on how to build staff and patient trust and confidence in technology-enabled remote monitoring, so that it can be scaled across the health and care system.

How does Q Lab UK decide which health and care challenges to work on?

The Lab draws on existing research and evidence, while also bringing in insights from a wide-range of perspectives. The Lab looks to identify a topic that is a high priority area, but also where it can make progress over a set amount of time. It is a collaborative process, working with a range of experts, project partner(s) and other stakeholders, including Q members, to refine the topic area.

The first challenge that the Lab worked on was on how peer support could be more widely available to those who need it (April 2017 – May 2018).

The second Lab project worked in partnership with Mind – the mental health charity, on how care can be better designed for people living with both mental health problems and persistent back and neck pain (September 2018 – October 2019).

The Lab is currently working in partnership with NHSX, on how to build staff and patient trust and confidence in technology-enabled remote monitoring, so that it can be scaled across the health and care system.

What is the role for patients and users?

Q Lab UK is committed to working closely with experts through lived experience, who will have the opportunity to participate in all the Lab’s activities. We recognise that there are financial barriers that can make it difficult for patients to contribute to additional pieces of work. To reduce this issue, the Lab will pay out of pocket expenses for patients and experts through lived experience working with us. For further details, please contact the team QLab@health.org.uk

How can I get involved?

Opportunities to get involved with Q Lab UK’s project, in partnership with NHSX, are currently open. Please take a look at Project three: Technology-enabled remote monitoring for details on how to sign-up.

Is Q Lab UK just for Q members?

No, you do not need to be a Q member to participate in the Lab.

The Q community play a key role and the Lab draws on members’ insights, expertise and experience. However, a vital part of the Lab methodology is to work with people and organisations from across a wide range of disciplines and sectors. Non-Q members (or people thinking about applying to Q) are very much welcome to be part of the Lab

About Project 3

Why are we looking at technology-enabled remote monitoring?

Even before the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, technology and digital transformation were priorities for the health and care system. Although the pressures of the pandemic have accelerated the scale and pace of adoption of digital care in some settings, pre-existing trends and challenges have intensified. This means that care enabled by digital is a key part of the vision for improving value and access for patients, and recovery of the health and care system following the acute stage of COVID-19.

We believe that by bringing together teams with digital expertise and improvement expertise, we can create sustainable models for different settings and population needs that prioritise staff wellbeing and make progress on this vital challenge for the system.

What’s the difference between a test team and a contributor?

There are two main roles for Q members and others to play in this project: as a test team or as a contributor.

Contributor: A contributor is an individual who has experience, expertise or an interest in the topic. Through the Lab process, you’ll be supported to connect, collaborate and learn with others who have a shared passion for the topic. You’ll contribute and gain new insights in the topic area and develop skills for collaborative change.

Test teams: A test team consists of people who will undertake improvement work in their local areas to see what works. You’ll play an active role as a participant and, in addition, Q Lab UK will support you to go beyond understanding the challenge to take practical action. You will receive upfront funding and support to follow a six-month design process to experiment and develop ideas to improve care. There will be potential for further funding for successful ideas after these six months. You will build new connections, share and develop your learning with other test teams and contributors, whilst developing the skills and capabilities to lead collaborative change.

Please take a look at Project three: Technology-enabled remote monitoring and ‘Be part of Q Lab UK’, for details on how to sign-up.

Is there a deadline for applying to become part of Q Lab UK?

The deadline for test team applications is 13 October 2021, 12.00pm. To apply, please download and complete the Test team application form.

Completed application forms need returned by email to QLab@health.org.uk

What are the offers available for contributors?

Alongside the workshops there will be additional opportunities for contributors to come together to hone design skills, explore peer learning and undertake sense making. Further information about these sessions will be shared nearer the time.

Is there funding available through Q Lab UK?

Yes, teams who are successful in their application to be part of the Lab will receive seed funding throughout the six-month process. At the end of the process, there will be a grant funding phase where the teams that have been part of the Lab will be eligible to bid for follow on funding in 2022. We will share more information closer to the grant funding phase.