BHP Rapid Evaluation Centre

The Birmingham Health Partners Rapid Evaluation Centre was established in 2022 to provide time-sensitive, formative evidence on innovations in healthcare and capacity building. It carries out rapid and effective service evaluations, often running in parallel with service implementation; helps spread learning to other sites; and helps build local capacity for in-house evaluations. 

In response to Covid-19, the NHS implemented innovation at a pace and scale never before seen. To harness and maintain this momentum, there is a pressing need for an effective evaluation service which is as agile and flexible as the innovation environment itself.

Effective evaluation does not always require an expensive and lengthy approach. In the same way drug discovery is identifying novel and rapid routes to develop, evaluate and approve new therapies, service evaluation requires a agile approach to evaluation.

The BHP Rapid Evaluation Centre brings together considerable expertise from across its member organisations, providing bespoke programmes of evaluation tailored to the precise needs of partners – designing appropriate measures, performing stakeholder analysis, collecting key data, analysing findings and delivering high-impact dissemination activities to support the uptake of findings into NHS practice. 

The team is supported by evaluation and research experts from across BHP’s academic and NHS members, and works closely with NIHR BRACE.

Innovations and improvements in the organisation and delivery of care services are integral to addressing the priorities of all care systems.

The last decade has seen unprecedented experimentation in new service models and ongoing efforts at service integration, but the evidence of whether such innovations are effective and how they work can be partial.

Too often the emphasis is on formulating and implementing change rather than determining whether change works and how change happened. With the establishment of system-wide approaches, these innovations are becoming even more complex –  but the potential impact (and cost) will be higher. Such evaluations need to be carried out in real-time and with a focus on formative learning as well as summative evidence.

Service evaluation often benefits from being embedded alongside improvement projects so that learning can feed more directly into ongoing change, refinement and real-time evaluation. Similarly, there is a need to build capacity for evaluation within care services so that innovations are the focus of routine appraisal without the need for external experts, in much the same way that clinical audit is embedded in routine practice.

The BHP Rapid Evaluation Centre aims to increase collaboration across partners, developing a process for clinical-academic leaders to collectively set evaluation priorities with the region.

The service evaluates changes in health and care services rapidly, and disseminate knowledge of successful innovations to other parts of the health and care system – underpinned by a commitment to move at pace.

The centre – managed by the core BHP team – is responsible for:

    • Co-ordinating the most appropriate and effective collaborations to answer service evaluation questions in a timely and cost-effective manner
    • Providing responsive expertise to support the design of evaluation and/or to carry out evaluations for locally developed service innovations
    • Enabling capacity building for evaluation through developing a suite of capacity development workshops and, in time, an accredited programme in evaluation methodologies

Each evaluation programme provides a model for designing, undertaking, and reporting evaluations, with the goal of enabling service leaders and teams to develop their own independent evaluations. This can be operationalised as a step-by-step framework of linked activities or can be tailored to the specific needs of relevant stakeholders:

    • Co-production – ongoing collaboration and involvement in evaluation process
    • Rapid scoping reviews – working out what we already know about an issue
    • Stakeholder analysis – who needs to be engaged in the innovation and the evaluation
    • Logic models – what are the assumptions underlying the innovation
    • Measurement – what evidence can and should be collected
    • Implementation analysis – how does change happen
    • Organisation and delivery – what is the impact on the service
    • Professional and patient experience – how is change experienced
    • Communication and feedback – formative and summative learning

The BHP team is building dedicated in-house capacity led by a Research Fellow with substantial experience of and a passion for health service evaluation, who will contribute to planning and establishing the new centre as well as its ongoing development and management. 

There is considerable expertise in evaluation methodologies including rapid evaluations across BHP which the team can also draw upon where required, including: