Identifying and communicating priorities

Identifying and communicating priorities

Methods to spread and scale that involve identifying and communicating priorities rely on sending clear signals to national and/or local systems or bodies about the need for spread and scale in a specific area or for a specific intervention.

Four methods have been identified in this category and are summarised below.


The effectiveness of these methods will vary depending on context, but key strengths of methods which identify and communicate priorities include: 

  • Large choice of methods and tools that can be used to reach different audiences
  • May not require additional resources – but priorities and resources overall must be aligned to support delivery[i]
  • May influence system culture and senior leaders across the system
  • Local needs identification allows a co-ordinated call for partnership with industry and others to collaborate to tackle the challenge

However, there will be limitations to these methods which may include:

  • Will not be effective unless targeted and purposeful – there are a limit to the number of ‘signals’ that can be sent before they risk getting lost in system ‘noise’ or become competing priorities[ii]
  • Reasonable degree of clinical and professional consensus required to be effective
  • Where barriers to spread relate to funding, or there is entrenched resistance other methods may be required as well

Methods and Levers

Local Needs identification

Production of report outlining local needs for innovation or improvement – sends signal to local or regional commissioners on priorities and to others to develop possible solutions. Solutioning here is a key step as part of ideation generating coproduction and local ownership. Examples include:

Horizon Scanning

Analysis of regulatory database, clinical trials data, industry database, or investment reports to produce pipeline of near to market innovation/research in key priority areas. Communicated to system to raise awareness/increase planning for adoption. Examples include:

National Clinical Guidelines

Development of clinical guidelines (non-mandatory) placing an intervention as part of best practice in a particular pathway. Publications setting out position of new innovations or improvements in new pathways. Examples include:

Commissioning Guidelines

Inclusion of intervention in commissioning guidance or governance. Examples include:

Practical considerations for use

Method or approachStage of development *Audience and scale **Resources neededTimeframe
Local needs identificationIdeation, proof of concept, prototype/testingNational, regional or local, targeted by clinical speciality / problemLocal consensus and buy in6 -18 months
Horizon scanningPrototype/testing and spreadNational, regional or local, targeted by clinical specialty / problemAnalytical resource; Communications channel and support, industry input6-18 months
National clinical guidelinesSpreadNational, regional or local, targeted by clinical specialtySufficient evidence base and clinical consensus6-18 months, plus additional time for implementation
Commissioning guidelinesSpreadLocal, targeted by clinical specialtySufficient evidence base and clinical consensusVariable

[i] and [ii] Department of Business, Innovation and Skills and Department of Health. Accelerated Access Review: Interim Report. Available from: