19 January 2021

On Thursday, 19 November 2020, the TO-REACH project was at EHMA 2020, the Annual Conference of the European Health Management Association (EHMA). 

The Conference took place digitally on 17-19 November 2020, through the lens of Rotterdam, on the theme ‘Health Management: realigning systems, contexts and players’. EHMA 2020 welcomed over 350 participants and was a fertile ground for exchange among representatives of academia and research, healthcare professionals, health and hospital managers, as well as policy and decision makers.

Dr. Nick Fahy (University of Oxford and European Observatory on Health Systems and Policies, UK), Dr. Johan Hansen (Nivel, The Netherlands), Prof. Ellen Nolte (School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, UK) and Ms. Sabrina Montante (Italian National Health Service and TO-REACH project coordinator, Italy) led the session ‘Lost in translation? Health Systems and innovation transfer’.

In the session they highlighted the challenges that arise in the adoption of biomedical innovations and the role of organisational innovations in facilitating said adoption. Although frameworks are being created to understand the implementation process, they remain focused on learning within one health system and not between different health systems. The TO-REACH project aims to address this gap by providing a European strategy to advance understanding of the adoption, implementation and potential scale-up of service and policy innovations, while also addressing their translation to other settings within and across countries. 

The speakers identified key priority areas where research can contribute and where European health systems can benefit most from each other:

  • The overarching priority is the transition from disease-oriented to patient-centred care, focusing on things such as self-management or health literacy.
  • For that transition to be successful, integration across health sectors and occupations is necessary.
  • This implies the development of long-term care services to meet the population needs; reforms within the roles, tasks, and structures of hospitals; strengthening of primary care services; and the reinforcement of mental health care services.
  • These goals cannot be met without investing in the healthcare workforce; adequate use of digital tools for people-centred services; continuous quality improvement and measurements; as well as effective governance and improved financing

Within each one of those elements, there are different challenges, aspects to reinforce and address. COVID-19 has also added crisis management and emergency preparedness as a priority. 

Some of the key attributes an innovation should have to allows its transfer are the flexibility to be modified by and for potential users; the range of users that can apply the innovation; and the innovation’s capacity to adapt to different local contexts.

To facilitate and improve knowledge sharing and the transfer of service and policy innovations between health systems, the relevant stakeholders need to understand the context within which the innovation is being implemented; the features of the receiving health system; the type of evidence that is needed; the factors that can facilitate and hinder the transfer of the innovation from one system to another; and the impact of the innovation transfer on the performance of the health system.

To address the gap in innovation transfer in Europe, the TO-REACH project wants to facilitate a partnership approach through a joint initiative. This will facilitate the cooperation among countries, increase the capacity-building of the stakeholders at different level, and increase the digital and health literacy of citizens and health and care actors. TO-REACH builds on the experience of related European initiatives and aligns with existing initiatives to realistically tackle the challenge that European health systems are facing.

The full recording of the session is available here.

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Better health systems and policies revealed from research and innovation – A webinar featuring TO-REACH

2 September 2020

On 1 September, To-Reach was featured in a webinar part of the EHMA Webinar Series ‘COVID-19: from Viral to Containment’. The webinar ‘Better health systems and policies revealed from research and innovation‘ focused on the challenges health systems are facing that have been further highlighted by the COVID-19 pandemic – and how having a framework that facilitates policy and innovation transfer could be a game changer.

To speak about the work conducted by the To-Reach project we had Sabrina Montante, Senior Advisor at Istituto Superiore di Sanità (ISS – Italian National Institute of Health) and Marius Ungureanu Director of Education at Babeș-Bolyai University in Romania.

The webinar opened with an overview of the To-Reach Strategic Research Agenda (SRA), which has the ambition to address the increasing health systems challenges directed to research areas of major relevance. In particular, the SRA aims to provide a European strategy to advance knowledge and understanding of the adoption, implementation and scale-up of service and policy innovations, while also addressing their translation to other settings within and across countries

Then SRA was informed by a systematic analysis of priority challenges to strengthen health systems, as identified from policy documents, as well as through consultations within Member States and a Europe-wide stakeholder survey, along with a review of the relevant academic literature.

The Strategic Research Agenda has identified the following key priority areas:

  • Person and population-centered health services and systems
  • Integration of services
  • development and integration of long-terms care services
  • Redefining hospitals
  • Strengthening primary health services
  • Improving mental health
  • The health workforce
  • Information and communication technology for health
  • Measuring and improving quality
  • Governance and financing

Also, it has identified elements for the successful transfer of innovations:

  • knowing the characteristics of the innovation and its originating system;
  • translating and adapting it to the receiving system;
  • setting up the decision-making and implementation process;
  • analysis of the effects and performance on the receiving system.

In the light of COVID-19, when thinking about the challenges health systems have been facing – such as population aging, accelerated advances in biomedical technologies, growing consumers expectations, healthcare professionals’ shortages and uneven distribution, and persistent health and financial inequalities – these challenges are not new, but have certainly been exacerbated by the pandemic. However, COVID-19 also highlighted how health and care systems are key translators of innovation, a needed feature for any organisation to ensure efficient and sustainable solutions.

The webinar recording is available at the link below.

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To-Reach featured in the EHMA Webinar Series ‘COVID-19: From Viral to Containment’

31 August 2020

Better health systems and policies revealed from research and innovation

The To-Reach project will be featured in the EHMA Webinar Series ‘COVID-19: from Viral to Containment’ on Tuesday, 1 September 2020 with a dedicated webinar titled ‘Better health systems and policies revealed from research and innovation‘. The webinar will outline the To-Reach framework and how it can be pivotal in better understanding and addressing the pandemic.

Date & Time
Tuesday, 1 September 2020 at 13:30 (CET)

The COVID-19 emergency has highlighted the importance of policymaking and research working together to achieve better outcomes. Research is key in supporting health systems and addressing challenges, identifying the areas that need improvement, and strengthening and facilitating the transfer of innovation between countries. COVID-19 has rapidly introduced changes in protocols, services, and transferability of successful innovations. However, even before this pandemic health systems faced common challenges including the increasing cost of healthcare; shortages and uneven distribution of health professionals; health inequalities and inequities in access to healthcare; and growing demand for healthcare from ageing populations and rises in chronic diseases and multi-morbidities. A framework that studies the importance of research implementation for service and policy innovation and to make innovation transferability effective has been developed by the To-Reach project. Its Strategic Research Agenda has identified the key research areas that could help to effectively understand the health system’s capacity issues and overcome structural barriers.

This EHMA webinar will discuss how what the To-Reach framework is and how it can play a vital role in addressing COVID-19 challenges and highlight areas where we can put more effort and resources to achieve quality and equitable care. The national perspective of Romania will be presented as an example of this, and we will also hear about how stakeholders are being mobilised and coordinated throughout the European Union.


  • Sabrina Montante, Senior Advisor- EU Affairs, ISS – National Institute of Health of Italy and To-Reach Project Coordinator, Brussels
  • Marius Ungureanu, MD PhD, Director of Education – Department of Public Health, Babeș-Bolyai University, Romania

Practical Information
The webinar is free and open to the public. To register please click here.

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