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Innovation in Healthcare: A Collaborative Future

University of St Andrews and NHS Fife Collaboration

“Imagining the Future of Healthcare” was an interactive workshop attended by 57 attendees, designed to bring together NHS Fife staff, University researchers at all levels, and industry or community representatives. The goal was to identify joint projects focused on health innovation, including the development of new or improved health policies, systems, products, technologies, and services to enhance healthcare delivery.

The Genesis of the Innovation Event

The Second Annual Collaborative Research and Innovation Symposium, co-hosted by NHS Fife and the University of St Andrews, marked a significant step towards integrating innovation with research in healthcare. The symposium focused on fostering collaboration between the two institutions, with discussions centred on aligning their innovative efforts.

Following the Symposium, Bonnie Hacking, Programme Manager for the University of St Andrews Entrepreneurship Centre and Neil Mitchell, Innovation Manager for NHS Fife, convened a strategic group, including University of St Andrews Professors, Professor Frank Sullivan, Director of Research, Professor Colin McCowan, Professor in Health Data Science and Professor Frances Quirk, Honorary Professor and Associate Director at NHS Fife, to devise a comprehensive plan to enhance our institutions’ collaborative efforts. The group collaborated with NHS Fife executives to determine the discussion topics aligned with the Reform, Transform, Perform initiative. This initiative, developed in response to the latest NHS budget announcement, aimed to streamline healthcare processes and foster innovation.

Attendees employed the World Café methodology to share ideas

The Event: Imagining the Future of Healthcare

The workshop featured 13 proposed topics, which participants whittled down to 10 through a weighted voting system on the day of the event. These topics included managing demand and reducing unnecessary referrals, redesigning unscheduled care, expanding outpatient treatment options, and enhancing patient engagement through technological solutions.

The event was opened by Carol Potter. Chief Executive, NHS Fife; Professor Tom Brown, Vice Principal Research, Innovation and Collections. Professor Tom Brown, said: “The relationship between St Andrews and NHS Fife is really exciting to see, we are two of the three biggest employers in Fife, as much as anything else, we are two of the leading institutions in Fife that have the capacity to make a difference to the lives of the people that live here or around Fife as well, so to see that come together is fantastic”. Carol Potter, Chief Executive, NHS Fife said that she was “Hugely excited to work with our partners within the University and industry”.

The event employed the World Café methodology to foster an environment of dynamic interaction and idea exchange. Participants engaged in multiple rounds of discussion, both divergent and convergent, to explore the topics deeply. This format allowed for a broad range of perspectives and ideas, ensuring that the resulting projects were well-rounded and comprehensive.

The event was closed by remarks from Derek Watson MBE, FCCA, Quaestor and Factor, Chief Executive St Andrews Innovation and Dr Christopher McKenna, Medical Director, NHS Fife.

Key Discussion Topics and Initial Outcomes

  1. Managing Demand and Reducing Referrals: Designing interventions to minimise unnecessary referrals and streamline patient pathways.
  2. Redesigning Unscheduled Care: Expanding the Hospital at Home program to manage unscheduled care more efficiently.
  3. Outpatient Care: Using case studies to identify treatments that can be administered as day treatments, reducing hospital admissions.
  4. Automating Operational Processes: Implementing automated systems to handle adverse events, complaints, and legal challenges.
  5. Minimising Waste: Developing strategies to reduce waste in healthcare processes.
  6. Technological Solutions: Reviewing and evaluating current digital technologies to enhance patient records and enable cultural change.
  7. Wound Management: Creating innovative approaches to wound care.
  8. Junior Doctor Rotas: Optimising schedules to improve efficiency and reduce burnout.
  9. Early Intervention: Exploring proactive measures to prevent health issues before they escalate.
  10. Personalised Medicine: Designing lifestyle medicine interventions to promote a preventative approach to health.
  11. Patient Engagement: Developing a visible and meaningful health record for patients and providers.
  12. Cross-Sectional Collaboration: Encouraging collaboration through co-creation across various sectors.
  13. Redesigning Systems for Long-Term Conditions: Using data to develop predictive models for treatment optimisation.

Post-Event Outcomes

The workshop identified 9 projects with detailed plans at various stages of development. These projects were geared towards addressing key healthcare challenges through innovative solutions.

NHS Fife Innovation will now undertake a thorough review and analysis of these projects to select 2-3 for further development. This process will involve forming project groups from both institutions and seeking funding to bring these innovative ideas to fruition. The collaboration aims to create a pipeline of joint projects that will drive innovation and improve healthcare outcomes.

Next Steps

To ensure the momentum from the event is sustained, follow-up meetings will be held to refine the identified projects and establish clear aims and deliverables. Named individuals from the event will be contacted to further explore these projects and form dedicated teams. Additionally, meetings with the NHS Fife Innovation and University Research Business Development teams will be conducted to discuss potential funding options.

Participants and interested parties are encouraged to contribute further expertise or express interest in the identified projects. Continuous communication and updates will be provided to all attendees and key stakeholders to maintain engagement and progress.

Event Attendees at Walter Bower House


The event’s success highlights the transformative potential of collaborative innovation in healthcare. By fostering partnerships between NHS Fife and the University of St Andrews, this initiative sets the stage for impactful projects that promise to enhance health outcomes and drive systemic improvements in healthcare delivery. Progress on these initiatives will be showcased at the upcoming joint research symposium in the autumn, ensuring the conversation and collaboration continue.