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Innovating across boundaries

This 50-hour online course is aimed at doctors, nurses or allied health professionals working within the health service at various stages in their careers. It is intended to be taken after earlier courses. If you have already done some thinking about the current strengths and weaknesses of the service/ services you work in, and are now ready to think about the wider system of care/care pathway and how it might be reconfigured to improve quality of care and the effective use of resources used, this course can also be usefully studied on its own to help you make progress with your innovation ideas.

Standalone study only

You will not be awarded credits for studying this course. It is available for standalone study only and cannot be counted towards an OU qualification.

Short course

Short course code
This is a non-credit bearing course.
Study method
Distance Learning
Short course cost
See Registration
Entry requirements
See Am I ready?

What you will study

Innovating across boundaries is the fourth of six 50-hour online continuing professional development (CPD) courses in the series 'Leading Health Care Innovation'. This course challenges you to think about the part your service plays within the whole healthcare community, across patient pathways from prevention, early diagnosis and better treatment through to supporting patients living with chronic conditions. Many currently argue that it is by considering this wider view, moving beyond the constraints posed by existing boundaries, that innovations that significantly improve performance and improve health can take place. Working across boundaries and even rethinking where they lie is arguably the key to real innovation.

This course, like the whole series, is for clinicians who want to understand what leadership in service innovation means for them. But it is not intended only or even primarily for clinicians who wish to take on full-time medical or clinical management positions. It is for those who recognise that developing and health services and finding innovative ways to meet current and future challenges require practising clinicians to show leadership in a variety of ways, working alongside health service managers, planners or commissioners. 

To obtain the maximum benefit from this course, you should previously have completed the sequence of short courses making up the series 'Diagnosing and Improving Your Service', within the overall BMJ-OU clinical leadership programme. Ideally, you should also have already completed the 50-hour short course {Understanding service innovation [GB087]}, which helps to crystallise your thinking on various kinds of innovation and their relevance to your service. However, this course can also be meaningfully studied on its own. 

You will learn

On completing this course you will be able to analyse the main boundaries or divisions that currently exist within the system of care which your service or specialism forms a part of. You will be able to identify where initiatives to improve the service through cross-boundary collaboration are currently underway, and where overall service performance could be improved though further collaboration across professional and/or organisational boundaries. You will also evaluate the relevance of different mechanisms for cross boundary working to these opportunities. You will analyse the relevance of NHS policies and local conditions to supporting or impeding cross boundary working relevant to your service. In addition you will be able to explain typical barriers and dilemmas that make collaboration across boundaries and explore how these may affect progress with cross boundary initiatives in your service. You will also identify and justify some initial steps for expanding cross-boundary working relevant to your service and explain how these can contribute to the longer-term development of integrated care.

Learner support

Expert, confidential learner support is available when you need it from a learning adviser, who will respond to you direct within 24 hours. Other support is available via the GB090 forum, library, StudentHome website and computing helpdesk.

Work-based activity

The work-based activity for this course has been designed as an integrated ongoing activity that you submit at the end of your study. It will enable you to reflect on your learning and apply it to your professional work.

Outside the UK

This course has been written primarily for a UK context, but will have relevance to other contexts.


Although there are no formal academic requirements to study any of our CPD courses, you are expected to have some experience in the field and the course assumes a familiarity with the subject. However, if you want to go on to complete the Postgraduate Certificate in Clinical Leadership (K04) it is required that you hold an honours degree or equivalent. Please note that if you are a new student intending to study for the postgraduate certificate you will need to study a different selection of courses, see Postgraduate Certificate in Clinical Leadership (K04) for details.

This course has been developed in conjunction with BMJ Learning. If you register for this course, they would like to contact you about further learning opportunities. If you do not want to receive information from BMJ, please mark the relevant opt-out box on your registration agreement.

You can register and begin this course at any time during the life of the course. You can study at your own pace and submit your work-based activity at any date before the final submission date for the course. Information about the final submission date is available when you register for the course.

This course counts towards the assessment module Leading health care innovation (B833), which forms part of the Postgraduate Certificate in Clinical Leadership (K04).  If you are working towards this postgraduate qualification you have two choices. You can either complete some or all of the requisite CPD courses prior to registering for B833 or you can register for B833 and the CPD courses at the same time, following a recommended study pattern. Please be aware that the latter option will require you to commit to approximately 12 hours of study per week so you may wish to consider this when making your choice.

If you have any doubt about the suitability of the course, please contact our Student Registration & Enquiry Service.


Start End England fee Register
At anytime Flexible - see Entry requirements for more detail £530.00 Register

Ways to pay

Credit/Debit Card - We accept American Express, Mastercard, Visa/Delta or Visa Electron.

Sponsorship - If the qualification you’ve chosen is geared towards your job or developing your career, you could ask your employer to sponsor you by paying some or all of the fees. Your sponsor just needs to complete a simple form to confirm how much they will be paying and we will invoice them.

Gift Voucher - Vouchers are currently available in the following denominations: £10, £20, £50 and £100.

What's included

All learning materials, exercises, study support and work-based activity are delivered entirely online.

If you have a disability

The study materials are delivered online. Learners who use screen readers or who cannot use a mouse will not be able to access some materials or some activities without assistance. Written transcripts of the audio interviews are available on the website. If you are a new learner with the OU, make sure that you have our publication Meeting Your Needs .