Rapid evaluation for healthcare solutions

Promising innovations that are transforming the way that health services are provided will benefit from rapid evaluation to ensure their impact is fully and more quickly understood.

The University of Birmingham reports a new national Rapid Service Evaluation Centre, known as BRACE, has been launched following the award of £2m in funding over five years from the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR), the largest national clinical research funder in Europe. The initiative is a partnership between the Health Services Management Centre (HSMC) at the University of Birmingham, RAND Europe, a not for profit research organisation, the University of Cambridge, and the charity National Voices.

The NHS across the country is developing and implementing new and innovative models of care and BRACE aims to work with the NHS to ensure that their impact is fully understood. All of the evaluations carried out by BRACE will aim to provide timely findings to the highest research standards that seek to address the concerns of NHS patients, staff and managers.

BRACE will be led by Professor Judith Smith, Professor of Health Policy and Management and Director at the HSMC at the University of Birmingham. She said “We believe that the work of BRACE will make a real difference to patients and staff of the NHS. Across the NHS, there is great interest in looking at current and new services and how they could be delivered in a way that improves people’s experiences of care and their overall health, while ensuring that the funding is used as efficiently as possible. Throughout the work of BRACE, we will listen to and involve people who plan, deliver and use health services. We want our evaluations to focus on the things that matter most to people working in and receiving care from the NHS. We will produce rigorous, timely and useful evidence about what works, and what doesn’t, which can inform the transformation of services and outcomes. Our evaluations will also support the sharing of learning and good practice by asking whether services that improve patient care and outcomes in one part of the country could be scaled up across the NHS.”

Jon Sussex, the Chief Economist at RAND Europe and health economics lead for BRACE, said “The timing for BRACE could not be better. Local efforts to change health services are widespread within the NHS, but there is a pressing need to understand if and how these are working and to spread that knowledge nationally. BRACE will allow for the rapid evaluations of these services, with the findings shared in a timely and efficient manner across the NHS.”

Dr Alex Georgiadis, a Research Associate at the University of Cambridge and one of the researchers for BRACE, said “Central to the BRACE team approach is our understanding of and closeness to the health and care sectors, as well as the issues and concerns within the NHS. The team has experience conducting high-quality, theoretically sound and methodologically rigorous studies that have real practical implications for the roll-out of new services within the NHS.”

BRACE is one of two national Rapid Service Evaluation Centres funded in parallel by the NIHR. The other centre, RSET, is led by Professor Naomi Fulop at University College London, in partnership with the Nuffield Trust.

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