Semantic Web Technologies for Innovation in the NHS

National Innovation Centre - horizon scanning and the semantic web

The NHS National Innovation Centre (NIC) is a recognised Department of Health Centre of Innovation Excellence. It supports innovators, commissioners and clinicians in their endeavours to speed up the development and use of innovations that will benefit the NHS.

In meeting this aim, the NIC has developed a number of tools to aid in the collection and dissemination of horizon scanning information. This work alerted them to the new semantic web technologies and their potential for data integration and diffusion. They therefore embarked on a demonstrator project to develop a semantic web-based horizon scanning service.

Customer Challenge

  • Answer the question "What needs to happen to make the NIC semantic web service a success?"
  • Write a detailed report advising how to develop information systems which can support the development and effective use of metrics for innovation.

Our Approach

  • We conducted interviews with NIC staff and contractors, in order to understand current NIC systems and priorities. We then conducted extensive research into the current state of the art with respect to semantic technologies, documenting evidence of best practice. This allowed us to deliver a report answering the initial question.
  • How to develop effective metrics for innovation is very much a socio-technical question, which we addressed with socio-technical tools. In particular, we used open, elite interviews in order to understand existing stakeholder practices to complement classical requirements techniques.

Customer Benefits

  • A report answering the question posed, including specific recommendations for ongoing projects.
  • Going beyond the question, identifying specific areas in which there is potential to further the aims of the NIC.
  • An analysis of relevant work and initiatives on innovation metrics.
  • A reference set of data sources used in innovation measurement and valuation.
  • A detailed set of recommendations and immediate steps related to innovation metrics.
  • An information systems framework for innovation metrics, detailing an appropriate architecture and technologies.
  • Detailed user stories against the suggested framework, clearly demonstrating its utility.

Certus has been asked to quality assure the subsequent development, which is being undertaken as a set of projects.