The first group we spoke to were clinical and managerial representatives from more than 18 healthcare organisations about what they saw as critical to a successful network.
- Excellent staff who are able to work well at a distance but who know when to escalate.
- Organisational buy-in: a clear, strategic narrative on the purpose of your network is required and may need to change as your network evolves.
- Professional buy-in: do your consultants believe in your network model and do they support each individual venture?
- Choice of partner: be clear on the terms of your relationship
and align your understanding of what a successful partnership will look like.
- An understanding of the health needs of the population you are seeking to serve and the expectations of those who commission/purchase care.
- The importance of reputation: identify red lines to protect your brand.
- A well thought-out management structure with clear lines of responsibility, communication, reporting and escalation.
- Standardised processes with tightly controlled variation to ensure consistent quality.
- Excellent links between sites and the centre to spread learning.
- A central learning and development team who move between sites.
- A values-based culture, embodied by strong leadership.
- Clear agreements with host sites.
- Excellent remote connections and systems.
We thought it was also important to know what assurance trust boards would need that a networked care model was delivering the required improvements. To understand this, we commissioned 25 board level executive interviews.
Their observations included:
- standardisation across the network is key but hard to deliver consistently.
- balancing network standardisation and local flexibility to support innovation is challenging.
- collating data across the network in a meaningful way is important but complex.
- there is a complexity of relationships with multiple commissioners and host organisations.
In non-networked hospitals executives would expect to see evidence of:
- the maintenance or improvement of clinical quality.
- good patient experience.
- transparent clinical governance.
- service standardisation.
- a better range of services.
Existing networked care provider executives said their regular assurance processes looked for evidence of:
- direct support of the trust’s strategy/objectives.
- the right experience and care for patients.
- greater organisational resilience, for example contributing to overheads and the bottom line, increased skill base, increased catchment and market, increased influence and reputation.