The NHS test bed programme brings together NHS organisations and industry partners to test combinations of digital technologies and pathway redesign in real world settings. As part of the programme, NHS England is investing over £2 million to support interventions aimed at improving the management of diabetes, which will be used to fund three test beds. The Department of Health and Social Care together with the Office for Life Sciences (OLS) is investing £5 million in other priority areas – which will support four test beds.
The Nuffield Trust has been commissioned to evaluate Care City – a test bed in East London with a particular focus on using new technologies to support people with long-term conditions. The test bed is made up of three clusters:
- Expert carers – domiciliary carers using digital diagnostics and data to spot deterioration and to better manage medication.
- Digital prescribers in primary care – GPs, with support of health care assistants, prescribing digital applications, and supporting people to benefit from them, to prevent deterioration of long-term conditions.
- Administrator patient supporters in acute care – administrators using digital pathway tools to support patients to change their lives.
The evaluation will run over 18 months and will draw on quantitative and qualitative methods to evaluate impacts on patients, the workforce and the health care system. We will also evaluate how the innovations are implemented, drawing out lessons for successfully spreading effective innovations at scale.
Project update - Dec 2019
Almost all of the digital interventions which are part of the Care City Test Bed are now live. Because many of these interventions started later than expected, Care City is applying for an extension to the project up to September 2020 and, consequently, our wider evaluation will finish at the same time. With regard to our process evaluation, baseline data collection from interviews with senior staff and observations of training and co-design sessions is now complete and we are starting on early post-implementation interviews and surveys with frontline staff and patients. For our outcomes evaluation, we are starting to receive individual-level data from domiciliary care agencies and some of the innovators and are expecting to receive patient data from GP practices soon. Our framework for calculating intervention costs has been developed and is being tested on one of the interventions. Our Interim Report is due in January and will mainly draw on our observations of the Test Bed set-up and our analysis of the first tranche of interviews. The early evaluation findings and methods are generating significant interest among wider stakeholders working to promote and evaluate innovations in the NHS.