It is with immense pleasure that we introduce the 2022-23 annual impact report of Health Innovation West Midlands (HIWM) (formerly West Midlands Academic Health Science Network).

As the NHS celebrates its 75th year, 2023 also marks an important milestone for the Health Innovation Network which was established by NHS England 10 years ago to spread innovation at pace and scale. Our purpose remains to lead, catalyse, and drive cooperation, collaboration and productivity between academia, industry, health and care providers and citizens, to accelerate the adoption of innovation to generate continuous improvement in the region’s health and wealth. 

As we come to the end of another successful year at Health Innovation West Midlands, we are pleased to share with you significant strides in advancing the quality and accessibility of healthcare services in our communities as a result of the work we have been involved in.

Through our partnerships with our commissioners, colleagues across the Health Innovation Network and our academic, industry, and health and care stakeholders, we have been able to power the development of health technology and services and facilitate the adoption and spread of innovative solutions that have improved patient outcomes and experiences. 

Click here to explore the full report

April 2023 marks 10 years since the Health Innovation Network (formerly the AHSN National Network) was established by NHS England to transform the way the NHS identifies, adopts, and spreads promising innovations. During this time, HIWM has undergone significant growth and transformation, and we are excited to share our journey with you through this infographic. 

The last decade has witnessed significant changes in the health and care sector, with rapid advances in medical technology driving transformation across the industry and increasing efforts to provide equitable access to care for all. While the COVID-19 pandemic presented significant challenges for the sector, HIWM are proud to have supported the opportunity it presented to spur innovation, collaboration, and resilience in the face of adversity. 

As we progress through the timeline, you will see how we have evolved in response to changes in the health and care sector and some of the major milestones and achievements that have shaped our organisation into what it is today. 

Our Overall Impact

Total inward investment achieved
Reduction in hospital bed days as a result of our managing deterioration programme
Healthcare sites in the West Midlands introduced to a national innovation by HIWM
Lives saved per year following emergency laparotomy
Staff receiving improvements through IMpulse CVD training workshops
Registered users on Meridian Innovation Exchange
Healthcare sites in the West Midlands who have adopted a national product, service or technology in collaboration with the HIWM
Collaboration agreements signed
West Midlands patients benefitting from Focus ADHD
Staff receiving improvements through NHS Insights Prioritisation Programme (NIPP) Community of Practices
Maternity and Neonatal Optimisations adopted by West Midland Trusts
PCSK9i patients benefitted from prescribing inhibitors
Click here to see the full results

Case Study Spotlight

Junior Innovation and Skills Incubator

The UK continues to face a skills problem, due to the mismatch between the skills employees possess and those employers need. This has resulted in knowledge gaps and talent shortages, which are compounded by the need for businesses to improve their digital competencies to survive. 

The implications of this problem for economic growth and productivity are significant, requiring a coordinated effort. We have worked with Digital Innovators and responded to this with the Junior Innovation and Skills Incubator, which aims to unlock untapped potential and accelerate education and training among young professionals. 

Digital Innovators is a training provider specialising in giving young people access to fulfilling job opportunities and bridging the gap between education, skills, and employment.

Working in partnership with Digital Innovators, the aim of the Junior Innovation and Skills Incubator was to attract and retain skilled employees with the ability to adapt and develop skills to support changing technological, social, and demographic trends.

The programme supports young innovators by providing examples of healthcare challenges in need of solutions, while building workplace skills to help build confidence and ensure they are ready for employment. In doing this, we are linking the minds of the future to shape the solutions of our current healthcare challenges by collaborating within the system.

Three workshops were held to introduce innovators to a range of real-life health and social care challenges and attendees were asked to come up with solutions to these challenges. The sessions were monitored by members of our team and the Digital Innovators team, with us acting as both customers and sector experts for the purpose of the workshop. 

Following the sessions, the students continued to receive support and insight from the sector experts as they refined their initial ideas into potential viable solutions. This included milestone touch bases and access to experts, giving them opportunities for their ideas to become viable propositions to start-ups.

Once the project teams had completed their thinking session and formulated some ideas, they spent the following weeks refining these ideas into proof of concepts. They then had the opportunity to present their solutions to our team in a Dragons Den-style pitch, where we provided feedback and agreed a route to take their projects forward. 

Through the Junior Innovation and Skills Incubator, we have helped to support the next generation of SMEs, innovators and workforce, shaping the minds
of the future. 

Working in collaboration with Digital Innovators, HIWM hopes to build on this pilot, providing an exciting and innovative solution to skills development and apprenticeships based on the principles of Change Management. We will present a unique approach to solving business problems, whilst providing people in vocational, education, or community settings, with the digital skills employers need. In doing so we create alternative career pathways to apprenticeships for young people, additional resources to implement new and innovative business solutions, and help address the NHS vacancy challenges.


NHS England’s MedTech Funding Mandate (MTFM) policy supports the NHS Long Term Plan to accelerate equitable patient access to The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) approved devices, diagnostics, and digital products. Thopaz+ was one of seven new technologies added to the MTFM 2022/23, and one of three which focuses on the patient experience during procedures.

Thopaz+ is a portable digital chest drainage and monitoring system, which enables patients to be monitored via digital readings. This supports clinical decision-making and assists patients’ recovery helping to reduce the length of their stay in hospital.

Through the MTFM Policy, we supported NHS providers to implement Thopaz+ in the West Midlands as well as the other Health Innovation Networks in our role as National Lead.

The first aim was to develop a national offer, including a repository of tools and resources to help all 15 Health Innovation Networks across England to support the local implementation of Thopaz+ within their geographical remit. These tools and resources provided equity of access to, and realisation of, the clinical and cost benefits of utilising the technology.

The second aim was to support the implementation and adoption of Thopaz+ in the 13 trusts in the West Midlands with the ability to utilise the technology.

Working with clinical advisors we developed three workstreams for our national lead role:

The above workstreams were underpinned by data from three sources including: 

  • Supplier uptake and sales data 
  • NHS England provider data on number of pulmonary resections and pneumothoraces and associated length of stay 
  • ‘On the ground’ clinical survey of Thopaz+ usage and potential need 

At the beginning of the project, this provided a national baseline level of usage and helped to identify gaps in access and prioritise trusts where the greatest benefits could be realised. 

We utilised our national support offer to create local cases for change and adoption of Thopaz+ and to support implementation. Our local implementation role involved engagement with key stakeholders within each trust that possess the expertise, influence, and enthusiasm to facilitate progress. 

In 2022/23, national quarterly reporting metrics have demonstrated an increase from 28% to 46% of trusts implementing or adopting Thopaz+. This is predominantly composed of thoracic centres, of which there are 28 in England according to the Getting It Right First Time (GIRFT) Cardiothoracic Surgery Programme National Specialty Report 2018. 

Regionally, 92% of applicable acute trusts are in adoption Stage 1 (knowledge of Thopaz+) to Stage 5 (adoption of Thopaz+). This represents a 38% increase from Quarter 1 baseline, demonstrating the success of our engagement to date, ensuring widespread local awareness of Thopaz+. 

This includes facilitating two product demonstrations in two separate trusts with no previous knowledge of Thopaz+. We have seven trusts (54%) either implementing or adopting Thopaz+ where six of these (46%) have already adopted the technology. To date, we have helped to progress West Midlands trusts through eight implementation stages. 

Managing Deterioration in Care Homes 

Being able to identify early signs that a person’s health is deteriorating helps to ensure timely treatment can be sought, before the condition becomes more serious or even life threatening. The ability for care home staff to do this is particularly important, as the patients they care for are often affected by multiple health conditions. 

The West Midlands Managing Deterioration Programme worked with 1,679 care homes across the region to support the training, adoption, and sustainability of deterioration management tools. The approach is to improve the quality of care for residents and ensure medical treatment is delivered at the right time and in the right place. 

The aim of the programme was to reduce deterioration-associated harm by improving the prevention, identification, escalation, and response to physical deterioration through better system coordination. 

Our objectives were for 95% of care homes to be aware of and begin to engage in the use of deterioration tools, 85% of care homes to adopt a deterioration tool and 40% of care homes to show sustained use of over a year of a deterioration tool. 

We took a whole systems approach as we recognised that the implementation of deterioration tools would only ever create long-term and sustainable change if we involved stakeholders across the whole pathway of care. This included care home staff, primary care, ambulance trusts, senior leadership, pathway leads and the local authority. 

Deterioration networks were established at both regional level and Integrated Care System level to accelerate learning, share best practice, and roll out
a deterioration strategy that was bespoke to each area. 

We supported in the creation of a Care Home Deterioration Pack for each Integrated Care System to help develop sustainable training for care home staff and signpost services in their area. We also produced a webinar series targeted at care home staff to increase their confidence, knowledge, and level of adoption of deterioration tools. The series was also aimed at General Practitioners and Advanced Nurse Practitioners to support system alignment. 

We worked with the Midlands and Lancashire Commissioning Support Unit to explore a minimum data set to demonstrate the impact of the Managing Deterioration Safety Improvement Programme.

A modelling evaluation by Unity Insights of the West Midlands suggests that between January 2021 and September 2022, there were 2,236 fewer 999 calls, which resulted in savings of £19.94 per care home.There were also 3,232 fewer emergency admissions, resulting in a saving of £13,590 per care home, and 34,900 fewer bed days. The modelling report also noted that adopting deterioration management tools within care homes across the six Integrated Care Boards within the West Midlands exhibited a potential non-cash releasing total saving of £8.5 million.

If scaled up and a deterioration management tool was adopted using the same approach by the 7,040 care homes who are using tools in England, in the same 21-month timescale there would be 31,116 fewer 999 calls, 44,969 fewer emergency admissions and 485,654 fewer bed days.

The individual case studies in this report reflect the organisation’s priorities, which are aligned with the National Health Innovation Network, as well as the needs of our local system and showcase our impact in these areas of focus from April 2022 – May 2023: 

Click here to explore all case studies