How we work

The Lab brings together people from a wide range of professions, with various skill sets and various experience of using and working in healthcare services. Find out more about the Health Lab Team.

The Lab’s uniqueness is its use of data to clarify need and impact, and its focus on bringing the next generation of leaders into the learning process alongside current systems leaders.

Utilising the collective wisdom of these people to view current health and social care provision, the Lab looks at it through different lenses – from the business through to the user, from the process involved to the impact in localities and with populations.

The Lab change process

The model developed for the Lab is based on adaptive systems and innovation theory.

There are 6 steps:

  1. Discovering: generating a shared picture and understanding of what’s really going on in your place at locality and health and social care system levels, using data.
  2. Collaborating: agreeing collectively what you want to change – the problems you want to solve together.
  3. Journeying: undertaking visits (which could be locally, nationally, or internationally) to places that have made progress in these areas, or have ideas that might help you.
  4. Committing: bringing that intelligence back into your system to determine together what you want to commit to through testing.
  5. Prototyping: undertaking prototyping of solutions (rapid cycles of implementation and review), to determine the ones that will work. This includes the assessment of predicted and actual impact.
  6. Adopting: implementing the solution across your system.


Enabling innovation through...

  • Collating data from a wide range of sources to understand what’s really going on in this system
  • Generating a possible picture of the future with emerging leaders
  • Open thinking using established innovation techniques: both adaptive systems and innovation theory
  • Connecting innovators locally, nationally and internationally
  • Prototyping to translate innovations into practice locally
  • Research to inform policy
  • Inquiry across the partnership to inform advocacy (to policy)

Prof. Becky Malby gives a short briefing on social innovation andThe nature of innovation labs (PDF File 122 KB)
Find out more information:

Data modelling

The Lab is focused on generating a shared picture and understanding of what’s really going on in health and social care systems, using data.

Pooled data is powerful - it allows us to recognise trends, at both personal and wider levels. The Lab collects local data to analyse. Results are then collated to identify problems and solutions.

The local data is:

  • Compared internally within the system (comparisons between viewpoints, for example: localities; GP practices; consultants; speciality)
  • Benchmarked against similar places elsewhere
  • Described both in terms of the categories listed but also in terms of what it means to population segments (for example: people managing diabetes; young adults)
  • Described at the big picture level and at the personal level in terms of people’s stories

Table of data sources and processes

The following table details how we categorise and process different types of local data.

Processing data themes
Data theme Data sources (high level)Process
Demographic and geographical - our health needs
  • Population data
  • Cohort identification
  • Example personas
Much of this data has been collected already, but it requires benchmarking, from local/community level to whole system level.
How the system currently operates to meet our needs
  • GP data: capacity, access, flow and demand
  • A&E patterns
  • Elective care patterns
  • Care home residents
  • Carer and patient stories

The above data can be presented with respect to demographic and geographical attributes.

Also requires benchmarking, from local/community level to whole system level. Current data must be analysed to find key patterns.
How people behave in the current system to meet their needs

Community statistics - what people can use compared to what they do use

Mapping of citizens in different groups, from local to whole system level.
How data is currently used for change
  • Communication between professionals and patients
  • Communication between health professionals for peer review
  • Communication between health professionals and managers

Is communication used for improvement and change - personal, academic, strategic?

Survey clinicians, managers and citizens to generate data.
How the current system learns and develops

Governmental papers on system development.

Analyse governmental papers linguistically - see which terms form trends, identify developments and initiatives.
How adaptive and resilient this system is
  • The rate of information flow from management to professionals
  • The nature and mapping of interconnections
  • Diversity of thought in group memberships
  • Energy and license - the ability of people to enact change
Primarily generated by patients in real time - huge value in small data sets and observational data.
How fit the system is for the future Taking all data above and interpreting it through the perspectives of possible, imagined futures. Use scenarios from data to tell the current story, then extrapolate and model how this could play out potential future scenarios.

The Health Systems Innovation Lab brings together:

  • Places that are innovating in health and social care (in UK and abroad) alongside places that want to adopt innovation locally
  • A core team of experienced learning facilitators to deliver group-based workshops
  • A data team to support local prototyping and the development of data capacity locally
  • A development agency
  • London South Bank University, which provides the home for the collective

The Lab is further supported by a Council whose role will be to enable advocacy into policy making. The make-up of the council draws from leaders who are closely identified with the current policy context.

All ‘nodes’ have access to one another, and the ability to access the group in a way and depth that suits their needs. The composition of the Lab changes in response to external needs.