How the FutureNHS virtual workspace enables spread of improvement and innovation through collaboration and learning

Posted by: Diane Ketley - Posted on:

Traditional models of ‘roll out’ of an improvement or innovation are replaced by an ability for adopters to learn with pioneers and their peers and to adapt and evolve the innovation.

FutureNHS is a free and easy to use collaborative virtual workspace which is enabling many teams and systems to work together to develop and spread improvement with great success.

The mission of FutureNHS is to provide a safe platform that empowers everyone working in health and social care and people with lived experience to connect, share and learn across boundaries of place, profession and position.

There are currently over 2,600 workspaces on FutureNHS and it’s constantly growing. The platform supports communities that are very small or very large, short-term or long-term, focused on a challenge or focused on a profession, entirely virtual or hybrid

The FutureNHS team and FutureNHS communities recently won the National Improvement Award for ‘Spreading change and improvement across systems’ details in video and blog.

Alice Montgomery-Reed, Head of FutureNHS explains in the recent case study how FutureNHS reflects and facilitates the seven interconnected principles for spread and adoption below and described in the NHSE Leading the Spread and Adoption of Innovation and Improvement: A Practical Guide.

Alice’s reflections are summarised in this blog and are available in full with more detail and examples here.


FutureNHS can help teams work in a complex context by helping them understand and manage the complexity of the improvement challenge.

Given the complexity of our health and care challenges, traditional, rigid methods of engagement and communications aren’t enough. FutureNHS connects the full range of people, with a stake in an issue, across boundaries allowing people to respond quickly to the changing health and care landscape. As a result of members connecting directly, interactions are speedy and responsive so improvement leaders using FutureNHS are better equipped to positively respond to emergence and the complexity of change.

FutureNHS supports engagement that is fast, fluid and iterative.


National, regional and system leaders can create virtual spaces – communities on the platform – enabling their stakeholders to connect, share and learn. Such virtual collaboration is a different way of enabling change by bringing many people together, creating power for change and communities for people to learn, share and grow together in an open, inclusive and iterative way.

Alice flags the crucial role that leaders of virtual communities should play to support change and improvement across systems. 

The leader of the future will be one who is as competent and capable in virtual connection and collaboration as they are in other skills and methodologies for leadership, change and improvement.


The perspective of the individual, patient, carer, staff member, is pivotal to enable behaviour change and hence spread and adoption. FutureNHS enables leaders to be in close touch with the individuals involved so leaders can find out what an innovation or improvement means to people and learn from any resistance to adoption to help future plans. Such close contact can help individuals feel motivated, engaged and capable of change.


Leaders can use FutureNHS to communicate clearly the ‘why’ of the innovation or improvement and to share progress and benefits achieved.

FutureNHS communities help create a pull for an innovation or improvement by building shared purpose and can generate a ‘crowd’ to provide the energy for change, generating motivation and activating agency and building and maintaining momentum.

As an example, the NHS is the first health system in the world to set a target to reach net zero carbon, the Greener NHS Knowledge Hub connects more than 1,000 members to information, tools and resources to help the NHS deliver the target, and provides a space to share knowledge, ideas and best practice.

Adopter focus 

FutureNHS communities are best when they are inclusive and involve both pioneers (or innovators) and adopters. Potential adopters can be included from the start which maximises engagement, ownership and mutual learning with pioneers and increases the likelihood of spread and sustainability.

Such virtual communities can capture and share learning on local adaption of innovation or improvements and pick up unintended consequences to inform learning. This helps co-create a meaningful narrative for change based on knowledge and experience gained from a wide range of places.


Building communities, energising and connecting individuals is the core work of FutureNHS. Communities and networks are so important because they increase communication, interaction and collaboration along with the flow of knowledge and learning.

FutureNHS enables connectivity across many systems and networks building strong links and loose links.

As Alice says

FutureNHS makes it simple to tap into the diverse minds of peers and experts who understand your world, are passionate about the same things you are and can help advance your work


FutureNHS can be used to underpin a learning system and to support a culture of continual learning by encouraging members to share, seek and use knowledge and experience.

Members of FutureNHS can seek out experience and knowledge from others, both what goes right and what does not. 

What next?

Alice calls on leaders to support staff to collaborate virtually, to make these new ways of working the norm and a core way of working within a culture of collaboration and innovation embracing trust, diversity, power sharing, risks taking and working openly.

What can we as individuals do to help make this happen?

Want more?

To join FutureNHS you need to create an account which is free. If you have the following email addresses / / / you can self-register on the platform. Visit FutureNHS website to set up your account which will take you just a minute to two. Otherwise, please email the support desk asking to join and a member of the team will respond to you. 

More information on the Leading the Spread and Adoption of Innovation and Improvement: A Practical Guide in the blog here and on the seven spread and adoption principles, including blogs and videos, available on the NHS Horizons website.

If you’re interested to read more there are previous blogs and further blogs to follow. Please follow @DianeKetley @HorizonsNHS#NHSSpread