From my past work
My career started our as a post-doc researcher working on European housing policy issues in the 1980s. On the surface this is very different from the healthcare innovation questions I am involved in now, but there are two threads running through most of my research activities.
First, the 1980s was a time a major change in housing provision, with a decline in social housing models and a rise in market solutions, prompting a major academic debate about the nature of ‘privatisation’ or the ‘recommodification’ of public housing systems – what it meant, how it was being played out across different countries.
Second, it was clear that there were important differences in the efficiencies of housing systems – their ability to control costs and prices and generally ensure that the population was able to access decent housing. These were partly related to the regulatory and institutional context for housing provision, a context which also had implications for the way the housebuilding industry operated – its processes, how profits were made and how innovative it was. Of course, all this is still the case today and these are still being rehearsed in the UK in 2016, where there is grave concern about the state of housing provision and lack of coherent policy to manage it.
We could replace the word ‘housing’ in the two paragraphs above with ‘healthcare’ and they could represent a description of many of the issues facing contemporary health systems – where the draw the boundaries between public and private provision, how to ensure the regulatory and institutional frameworks manage the system, how to ensure access to the best possible healthcare for all, how to use innovation to improve processes and efficiency.
There is, however, a specific bridge between part 1 of my post-doc career – housing policy – and part 2, on healthcare innovation. In the mid-1990s I started looking at the concept of ‘smart homes’, where information and communications technology is used to help control the functions of the home. One project involved building two smart homes for elderly and disabled people, in York and Edinburgh, and from this my interest in the then-embryonic concept of ‘telecare’ sprang.One other area I worked on in the 1990s has now returned, in the healthcare context. We carried out one of the earliest studies of ‘partnering’ in the construction industry, the use of collaborative relationships between clients and suppliers, coupled with risk and reward sharing mechanisms. This study ended with a few tentative conclusions about the then new concept of public-private partnerships (the UK’s PFI, Private Finance Initiative). At the time, we couldn’t have foreseen that PFI would be such an important concept in hospital construction.
Some publications on housing and construction:
James Barlow and Ritsuko Ozaki. Building mass customised housing through innovation in the production system: lessons from Japan. Environment and Planning A, 2005, 37(1): 9-20.
Judith Allen, James Barlow, Jesus Leal, Thomas Maloutas and Liliana Padovani. Housing and Welfare in Southern Europe. Oxford, Blackwell, 2004.
James Barlow and Moh Naim. An innovative supply chain strategy for customised housing. Construction Management and Economics, 2003, 21(6): 593-602.
James Barlow and Ritsuko Ozaki. Achieving ‘customer focus’ in private housebuilding: current practice and lessons from other industries. Housing Studies, 2003,18(1): 87-101.
James Barlow, Paul Childerhouse, David Gann, Moh Naim and Ritsuko Ozaki. Choice and delivery in housebuilding: examples from Japan. Building Research & Information 31(2): 134-145.
Bob Scott et al. Partnering in Europe: incentive based alliancing for projects. London: Thomas Telford, 2001.
James Barlow. Innovation and learning in complex construction projects. Research Policy, 2000, 29: 973-989.
David Gann, James Barlow, Tim Venables. Digital Futures. Making Homes Smarter. Coventry, Chartered Institute of Housing, 1999.
James Barlow, Michael Cohen, Ashok Jashapara, Yvonne Simpson. Towards Positive Partnering. Revealing the Realities in the Construction Industry. Bristol, Policy Press, 1997.
James Barlow. Participation in Urban Development. The European Experience. London, Policy Studies Institute, 1995.
James Barlow and David Gann. Flexible planning and flexible buildings: reusing redundant office space’. Journal of Urban Affairs, 1995, 17(3): 263-277.
David Gann and James Barlow. Flexibility in building use: the technical feasibility of converting redundant offices into flats. Construction Management Economics, 1995,14: 56-66.
James Barlow, Simon Duncan. Success and Failure in Housing Provision. European Systems Compared. Oxford, Pergammon, 1994.
James Barlow, Ray Cocks and Michael Parker. Planning for Affordable Housing. London, HMSO, 1993.
James Barlow and David Gann. Offices into Flats. York, Joseph Rowntree Foundation, 1993.Michael Savage, James Barlow, Peter Dickens, Anthony Fielding. Property, Bureaucracy and Culture. The Middle Classes in Contemporary Britain. London, Routledge, 1992.