Brain in Hand, a digital self-management system for autistic people, and those with learning difficulties or mental health challenges, has been named one of 12 high impact innovations to join the NHS Innovation Accelerator (NIA) in 2021. Heather Cook, Director of Partnerships at Brain in Hand, has been awarded an NIA fellowship that will provide the opportunity to engage with policy makers and leading influencers, to gain a deeper understanding of the needs, challenges and possibilities for digitally enabled care across the health and social care system.
The NIA is an award-winning NHS England initiative delivered in partnership with the 15 Academic Health Science Networks (AHSNs) to scale high-impact, evidence-based innovations across the NHS and wider healthcare systems, supporting delivery of the long-term plan. Fellowships are extremely competitive, and the exceptional individuals and innovations identified are provided with the infrastructure, connections and shared learning needed to enable implementation at scale and pace.
Partnerships between industry, academia and the health and social care system are key to the successful digital transformation of services. Since inception, a collaborative approach has been very much at the heart of Brain in Hand’s core philosophy. The NIA fellowship affords an invaluable opportunity to work closely with stakeholders (clinicians, commissioning bodies, academia and users) to break down the barriers to the adoption of digitally enabled care, reduce health inequalities for neurodivergent people, and catalyse the integration of health and social care. This aligns closely with Brain in Hand’s vision to improve vulnerable people’s independence at all stages of their lives.
As a practical support system that combines user-led self-management, human support and digital tools, Brain in Hand helps autistic people and those with neurological differences to manage anxiety, make decisions and cope with unexpected events. This unique combination empowers people to take control of their own lives, while being able to access professional support when necessary. Fostering this revolutionary self-management approach helps users to achieve more, reduce reliance on traditional forms of support and ease the burden on overstretched care teams.
Heather Cook, Director of Partnerships at Brain in Hand, commented:
“I am delighted and incredibly honoured to have been appointed a fellow on the prestigious NHS Innovation Accelerator programme. It is fantastic for Brain in Hand to be recognised as an evidence-based innovation, with the potential to scale and be adopted more widely across the health and social care system. Deep and wide collaboration has always been important to us. Having the opportunity to collaborate with like-minded peers and to engage at a system level with decision makers and influencers within Health and Social Care will enable us to deliver a digital solution that maximises impact for both users and service providers alike.”
When asked about Brain in Hand’s collaborative approach to transforming the current model of care delivery, Lorna Green, Director of Enterprise and Growth at the Innovation Agency, the Academic Health Science Network for the North West Coast, said: “It’s exciting when we can support an innovative local company and see their hard work come to fruition. There’s a vast amount of innovative work going on in the region that has enormous potential benefit for colleagues in the health and care system. We’re really proud to have brought the two sides together, and look forward to continuing our collaboration with Brain in Hand.”
This fellowship marks the second prestigious achievement awarded to Brain in Hand, following its successful Small Business Research Initiative (SBRI) Healthcare phase 2 £800,000 award, secured in Autumn 2020. Being part of the NIA programme will provide credibility to help achieve wide scale deployment within the NHS. As Stuart Monk, Programme Director of the South West Academic Health Science Network, explains: “This is an exciting achievement for Brain in Hand and an enormous opportunity for a South West-based digital self-management solution to deliver real impact across the health and care system. With a phase 2 SBRI award already underway, the NIA will help ensure that the positive outcomes from ongoing clinical and health economic research projects will lead to greater chances of spread across the health and care system.”
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