Cisco UK & Ireland Blog

Supporting the future of healthcare through a programme of innovation

September 27, 2023

I worked in the NHS for close to 35 years – so reading the challenges facing the health service today is tough.

There’s a backlog of ‘non-urgent’ cases in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic. There’s an ever-increasing demand for services. And the current physical and digital infrastructure for the NHS is not working the way it needs to.

These are big challenges. And it’s clear to me they are too big for the NHS to face alone – and industry must play a supporting role.

Collective support, collaboration, and co-design from the ground up are needed – where technology considers the needs of patients and practitioners alike.


Enter the Lister Alliance – offering a new approach to healthcare innovation

Despite these tribulations, help is at hand. The Lister Alliance is an innovation programme developed and funded by Cisco’s Country Digital Acceleration (CDA) programme.

We are a consortium of technology specialists, academic institutions, and healthcare leaders, working in direct partnership with NHS Trusts.

Our overall goal is to improve patient outcomes and make life better for healthcare practitioners, through more accessible, efficient, and personalised healthcare services.

How do we do that? The programme is seeking to challenge ‘top-down’ approaches to technology implementation – instead, we foster innovation from the bottom-up.

This programme will be brought to life in ‘living labs’ – where new services can be developed on the frontline – such as developing the next generation of smart ambulance services in partnership with paramedics. The living labs create a safe space for innovation to happen – when time, budget and resources can often be in short supply.

We’re taking this approach to acknowledge the intense pressure experienced by frontline staff. One where a lack of time or headspace to think about new technology has been a barrier to innovation.

Instead, we involve those practitioners from the very beginning, allowing them to work through any challenges with a deployment – while designing the solution around their day-to-day needs and challenges.

A co-creation approach to innovation is tried and tested in other sectors – we’re here to show this is also possible for the NHS.

Aligning with the UK’s New Hospital programme

We believe there is a clear need for an efficient, integrated care system which supports the alignment of patient services – with faster treatment times and better experiences for both patients and practitioners.

The UK government is trying to take steps to address this. The highly publicised ‘New Hospital Programme’(NHP) is expected to represent £20bn of investment in new hospital infrastructure, with the ambition to develop new ‘smart hospitals’ of the future. To achieve this, NHS Trusts will need to rethink digitally while redesigning physically.

Smart building management is one such opportunity for the programme – driven by a convergence between physical infrastructure and digital estates – with the potential to save thousands in heating and energy costs.

We’re exploring how low-energy smart lighting can make a direct impact on the bottom line – an issue that feels pertinent as trusts face a continued squeeze on budgets following the energy price increases of the last 18 months.

Through the Lister Alliance, we’re confident some of the findings of the programme will help inform the wider strategy for the NHP as new builds and refits get underway.

We are inspired by a vision of a better way of delivering healthcare with technology, one that maximises and supports the talents and efforts of an overstretched workforce.

I feel excited to share more stories on the innovation happening already through the Lister Alliance soon.

In the meantime, if you work in the NHS and feel like your services could benefit from the funding and expertise of Cisco and our consortium partners, we are inviting you to come on board.

You can register your interest on the Lister Alliance website.

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