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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