Executing implementation: why is getting new health technology into practice so difficult?
We seem to be living through a golden age of scientific and technological advance in healthcare. All around us there is news of breakthroughs in biomedical research and innovations in health technologies that promise to change our lives for the better. Yet it seems as though executing these innovations – translating them into everyday practice in healthcare systems – is often amazingly difficult. Indeed, it can sometimes take years to achieve. In my inaugural lecture, I’m going to offer a set of conceptual tools through which we can understand the implementation of innovations, and through which we can consider their consequences for patients and caregivers. As I do this, I will reflect on the ways that the new applied sciences of healthcare implementation and improvement can draw on fundamental ideas from the social sciences, and how in return applied research in these areas opens up opportunities for fundamental sociological investigations of complexity and adaptation in social systems. These combinations of applied and basic research offer new ways of understanding and intervening in enduring problems of the organisation and delivery of healthcare.