“The NHS in England could realise savings of at least £4.4 billion a year…” according to a report

People with plugs

Signpost with savings on itIf NHS England adopted people powered health innovations, it could make at least £4.4 billion savings a year according to this report, published by NESTA, an independent charity and the UK’s innovation foundation.

This is part of a series of reports due for publication following this one, including:

  • People Powered Health: health for people, by people and with people: making the case for system-wide change
  • More than Medicine: new services for People Powered Health
  • People Helping People: peer support that changes lives
  • Redefining Consultations: changing relationships at the heart of health
  • By us, For us: the power of co-design and co-delivery
  • Networks that Work: partnerships for integrated care services
  • People Powered Commissioning: embedding innovation in practice

This series is relevant to everyone involved in achieving the best possible outcomes, including patients and their families, clinicians, commissioners, decision-makers, and local communities, across the health and social care system. As the rest of the series is published, links will be added to this post.

PowerPeople powered health

One of the biggest challenges for the NHS and health systems around the world, is the management of long-term conditions so that patient satisfaction is increased and savings made. This area of medicine, long-term and chronic conditions, makes the biggest demands on health services and finances. If everyone is involved in changing the way we operate and integrate, a significant impact will be made for patients, carers, and health systems, in terms of better outcomes, reduced hospital stays and readmissions, and cost savings. People Powered Health proposes changes to three components of the current system:

Consultations – these should incorporate clinical expertise and patient preferences so that the decision-making is shared and everyone understands their responsibilities with regards to managing the condition. Patients should be encouraged to self-manage with support from local networks and the health service.

New services – not additional medical services, but supporting services to work with clinical care. Peer support groups, coaching, mentoring, and buddying services should be commissioned so that patients and carers are not just left to their own devices following consultations. Long-term conditions are stressful for the individual and their families and carers, and it is vital that they have a network of support to help them, not just medically but also socially.

Co-designing pathways – this should be done by patients and health professionals, as clinicians may assume that they know the path the patient wants to follow, but that is not always the case. Two-way communication will lead to a more robust pathway, which patients are more likely to adhere to.

Time to changeThis report is very comprehensive and looks at the evidence for how people powered health interventions do reduce costs and improve outcomes. It provides evidence of direct cost savings as a result of specific programmes from around the world, including the Expert Patient Programme in the UK, and the Mental Health Care Improvement Initiative in Australia.


This report clearly sets out the benefits of people powered health, breaking them down by the roles of commissioners, providers, service users, and local authorities. It is a very thought-provoking document and should prove valuable to decision-makers as they think about how to improve services while making savings. It also provides some costs per patient together with the benefits that your organisation and the patient will receive.

Read through this paper and the rest of the forthcoming series and see how it maps to your experiences. Is there a programme here that might fit into your organisation for example? Are you a patient, keen to be more involved with your healthcare?

This report provides the evidence and the examples to demonstrate how changing practice can and will improve the National Health Service.


The business case for people powered health (PDF)
April 2013

Additional material

Innovation Unit

Series publications:

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Caroline De Brún

Caroline De Brún

Caroline has been a medical librarian in a variety of NHS and academic roles since 1999, working in academic, primary and secondary care settings, service improvement, knowledge management, and on several high profile national projects. She has a PhD in Computing and currently develops resources to support evidence-based cost and quality, including QIPP @lert, a blog highlighting key reports from health care and other sectors related to service improvement and QIPP (Quality, Innovation, Productivity, Prevention). She also delivers training and resources to support evidence identification and appraisal for cost, quality, service improvement, and leadership. She is co-author of the Searching Skills Toolkit, which aims to support health professionals' searching for best quality clinical and non-clinical evidence. Her research interests are health management, commissioning, public health, consumer health information literacy, and knowledge management. She currently works as a Knowledge and Evidence Specialist for Public Health England, and works on the Commissioning Elf in her spare time.

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