Connected Health Cities helps health professionals to develop evidence-based approaches to commissioning

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Posted on the 7th June 2019

Healthcare professionals are developing evidence-based approaches to commissioning digital services thanks to Connected Health Cities (CHC).

As one of CHC’s main aims is to help to develop the workforce in health and care sectors, the Innovation Agency helped to fund and design a postgraduate course focused on evidence-based commissioning.

The Postgraduate Certificate in Professional Practice (Evidence-Based Commissioning) was delivered by Lancaster University’s Centre for Training and Development (CETAD).

It enabled participants to develop and deliver work-based projects using evidence to support the case for commissioning new and improved patient services featuring data and digital technology.

Eighteen healthcare professionals, from clinicians and data analysts to commissioners and quality improvement leads, completed the year-long course earlier this spring.

Combining academic learning with collaborative working, coaching and mentoring, alongside a schedule of workshops to put theory into practice, the course allowed the students to explore approaches, barriers and opportunities within their own workplace and across the NWC.

Participants were tasked with creating work-based projects to enable learning within a ‘real-world’ context. They were challenged to identify service commissioning or delivery projects which, would not only meet their development and learning needs but would also have the potential to improve services in their workplace.

Examples of projects include:

  • Addressing non-attendance in maternity services
  • Evaluating the impact of a GP hub to manage same day urgent home visits
  • Improving postural care of people with learning disabilities through implementing postural care clinics.
  • Exploring the impact of professional apprenticeships on recruitment and retention within a perioperative environment

As a result, the health system is expected to benefit from enhanced patient experience, service improvements, cost efficiencies, clinical outcomes, community care initiatives and increased staff and stakeholder engagement.

The course leaders hosted a celebration lunch at Lancaster University for the students who completed the course which allowed them to showcase their learning in project posters they had created.

Helen Williams, Head of Integrated Commissioning at St Helens Council showcases her project poster


Dr Julia Reynolds, Associate Director for CHC, congratulated the students. She said: “We are delighted to see the enthusiasm of students in developing innovative projects in health and care organisations that will clearly benefit patients and supported evidence in commissioning.

“These students are at the forefront of innovation and supporting their organisations to find solutions to issues and push forward improvements. They are a credit to our public sector.”

Juliette Kumar, Associate Director for Improvement and Education at the Innovation Agency, one of the partners in the CHC programme, added: “It was wonderful to see the outputs of the programme, to understand the personal and organisational challenges faced and how they were overcome by applying simple and effective QI and change management tools.”

The course was considered to be a real success with students benefitted from networking, reviewing and sharing experiences with fellow professionals in the NWC, as well as reflecting on their current working practices and exploring new ways of working.

Listen to their feedback here.

Meanwhile, the course’s lasting impact on the wider system will continue to support improvements and innovation across health and social within the NWC.

Partners are now seeking further sources of funding to continue offering the postgraduate certificate.

For more information on future courses call CETAD on 01524 593318 or email

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