Here’s a preview of some of the big things we’ve got planned for 2022, set out under each of our five strategic priority areas. You can also find out more about opportunities to get involved with our work through our grant and fellowship programmes in 2022. 

1. Promoting healthy lives for all 

We believe whole government and whole system action is needed in order to improve health and wellbeing. In 2022 we will continue to provide analysis, evidence and policy recommendations to help the UK create and value good health.  

We’ll be continuing to explore how the circumstances in which we live shape our health. We will soon launch a landmark review into health inequalities in Scotland. We’ll also be adding new data, insight and analysis to our Evidence hub: what drives health inequalities? – building on our recent work on health inequalities and on debt and health.   

Local and regional authorities have a central role in improving health. In spring, we will publish a report looking back over the last 10 years of local government public health teams and the lessons for the future. We will share materials to improve public understanding of and support for wider action to improve health, including findings from the Frameworks Institute. We will begin drawing on findings from our Economies for Healthier Lives and Shaping Places for Healthy Lives programmes which are exploring how local partnerships can work to improve health. 

We will continue our work to ensure the whole of government works together to improve health and health equity. And outline the evidence-based policy approaches that can be taken to improve health across the whole of the UK. We are also working with a range of organisations to strengthen the policy agenda for young people’s future health. We are working with Shareaction to promote positive action on health among businesses and investors. 

The Collaboration for Wellbeing and Health will move into its action phase, recruiting a wider group of cross-sector allies, and launching its first campaign to influence policy and amplify the case for action on the wider determinants of health.

2. Data analytics for better health 

We want to ensure that everybody’s health and care benefits from advances in analytics and data-driven technology such as artificial intelligence (AI). So we’ll continue to drive forward innovations in analytics in 2022, informing the national conversation about data and health.  

Look out for studies on multiple long-term conditions, international comparisons of health care quality with international partners, and our NIHR-funded project to define a national minimum data set for care homes. We’re also planning new work using novel techniques to improve understanding of poor health outcomes for people in more deprived areas.  

Our work will continue to develop and enhance skills and capacity in analytics across the health and social care system through our grants and support, including for the NHS R Community. We will also be active through our existing partnerships. Our work with the Ada Lovelace Institute will examine the impacts of data-driven technologies on inequalities, and our research programme with the NHSX AI Lab includes supporting a community of practice on AI and racial inequalities. 

In 2022, the Improvement Analytics Unit (our innovative partnership with NHS England) will complete studies on digital first primary care and integrated care. We’ll also begin a new strand of evaluation work, potentially looking at how AI can help to address the NHS backlog. Meanwhile, our Networked Data Lab will be publishing findings from a project around inequalities in access to children and young people’s mental health services, and beginning a new project on social care.

3. Supporting improvement 

Our supporting improvement work aims to influence approaches to system recovery, demonstrate how better management and improvement approaches can improve quality and productivity, and how innovation and technology can enable new models of care.  

2022 will see continued investment in some of our existing initiatives, including the Flow Coaching Academy, Common Ambition programme and the Health Anchors Learning Network. We will also continue to develop more recent initiatives, including the new IMPACT Centre and our Adopting Innovation programme.  

We’ll be launching a funding programme to support the use of technology to enable new models of care, particularly those that support more care at home or in the community. We will also undertake new research on this topic, as well as sharing learning through our insight work on learning health systems, NHS management, elective recovery, and the innovation landscape. 

Expected to reach the milestone of 5,000 members this year, our Q initiative also has big plans. We are supporting peer-learning for national and regional leaders in improvement, providing support for learning and innovation through Special Interest Groups and our events programme. Q Lab and Q Exchange also have exciting work underway, bridging the worlds and methods of improvement and digital (with Q Lab UK looking at what’s needed for staff and patient confidence in tech-enabled remote monitoring). 

And finally, in 2022 we will work with THIS Institute as they plan their future strategy at a five year review point in the Foundation’s funding. This will include work to develop their online research platform, Thiscovery.  

4. Health and care sustainability 

The REAL Centre (Research and Economic Analysis for the Long term) produces research and analysis to help make health and care services more sustainable, enhancing our understanding of trends in health care supply and demand, and supporting better long-term decision making.   

Look out for two major reports in 2022. The first, our workforce projections report, will look at the outlook for both the demand and supply of health care staff over the next decade. It will look in detail at the impact of trends in nursing and general practice. The second, on health care demand, will provide a deep dive into healthy life expectancy. This report is part of the foundational work to develop a comprehensive health care demand model in partnership with the University of Liverpool. The final model will allow us to link risk factors to morbidity and health care activity, providing an improved base for future funding projections reports.  

With projects from our Efficiency Research Programme coming to an end, we’ll be sharing their knowledge and learning on technology and productivity.  

We will also host the third in our REAL Challenge lecture series, where prominent speakers share innovative thinking and ideas on the key challenges facing health and social care in our annual lecture and associated thought paper. Look out for further announcements on the speaker and topic later this year. 

Finally, 2022 will see us launch a major funding call for two new REAL Centre research units. With total funding of £14 million, the units will develop research programmes in our areas of interest (demand for and supply of health and social care) and support the development of a linked fellowship programme. 

5. Improving national health and care policy 

We want to support the development of more evidence-informed policies on health and social care in England, contributing to better population health and higher quality care.  

In 2022, we will continue to produce responsive analysis on some aspects of the national COVID-19 policy response – focusing on lessons from the pandemic for future health and care policy. But the main focus of our work will be on broader policy issues related to health system recovery and reform, including analysis of changes to NHS structures and policies on prevention and inequalities.  

Look out for new work synthesising evidence on approaches to NHS reform and national policies to reduce inequalities in general practice. We’ll also be producing analysis on the current reorganisation of the NHS in England, including the development of integrated care systems and the approaches they are developing to improve population health. 

We will maintain a focus on international comparisons of health system policies and performance, continuing to fund major external programmes in this area, including Sciana, Harkness Fellowships, QualityWatch, and the European Observatory on Health Systems and Policies.  

Other areas of focus for 2022 will include analysis of national health and care performance data, analysis of international survey data on primary care physicians and a new programme of long-term public polling on attitudes to health policy and performance. 

This content originally featured in our email newsletter, which explores perspectives and expert opinion on a different health or health care topic each month.

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