About Nesta

Nesta is an innovation foundation. For us, innovation means turning bold ideas into reality and changing lives for the better. We use our expertise, skills and funding in areas where there are big challenges facing society.

People Powered Health: putting it into practice

People Powered Health is about people and professionals working together towards better health. 

It's about connecting people with similar health conditions to share emotional and practical support. It's about addressing the social causes of some long-term conditions, such as debt and poor housing. And it's about everyone being supported to live better with their condition, including the often difficult steps to improving diet and exercise.

These elements may seem straightforward, but they add up to a large-scale systemic change; because the current health and care system is primarily designed for short, episodic medical interventions, not long-term symptom management, behaviour change and the creation of social networks to improve health. 

This means the implications of implementing People Powered Health at scale are significant. From what is discussed in a medical consultation, to what kind of prescription is drawn up. From how healthcare professionals are trained, to the expectations and behaviours of patients.

There are also implications for the hard-wiring of the system in terms of how clinicians are remunerated, how services are commissioned, how budgets are structured and what outcomes are measured.  

Change of this complexity feels daunting and it's hard to know where to start. But there are many clinicians, patients and others in the health and care system who are already doing this in their daily lives.

Indeed, People Powered Health builds on a body of existing practice that has emerged over the past twenty years and is already reflected in the agendas of shared decision-making, care planning, social prescribing and expert patients. Yet the reality is that this approach has yet to transform mainstream medical practice.

At Nesta, we want to help the full scale shift towards a People Powered Health system - at a strategic level but also at the level of individual practice.

For this reason we have developed a series of practical guides to the main elements of People Powered Health and we are publishing the first of these today focused on how to fully involve patients in the design and delivery of services. The guides are based on what we've learnt directly from the six sites in the People Powered Health programme and also from the wider evidence base.

The reports bring together stories of patients living better with their conditions, professionals reflecting on their changed practice and the key features that are needed for success to be replicated elsewhere. The reports also signpost other reports and how-to guides and are intended as a resource for practitioners, service users and commissioners who want to take the steps towards putting People Powered Health into practice. 

Over the next few weeks we will be publishing the whole series, covering how to build 'More than Medicine' services to complement clinical care, change what happens in a medical consultation, create peer support that connects people with similar lived experience, commission People Powered Health services, and create networks of providers to deliver People Powered Health locally.

We think that, together, these guides represent the core of what is needed to shift practice towards People Powered Health. We hope you find the guides useful and do let us know what you think. 


Halima Khan

Halima Khan

Halima Khan

Executive Director, Health, People and Impact

Halima was the Executive Director of the Health, People and Impact. She led Nesta’s work in health and also oversaw people (human resources) and impact for the organisation.

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