Lost in translation? Health systems and innovation transfer – TO-REACH presents at EHMA 2020

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 representing academia, research, healthcare professionals, health and hospital managers, and policy makers.

Lost in translation? Health systems and innovation transfer

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‘.

They highlighted the challenges that arise in the adoption of biomedical innovations and the role of organisational innovations in facilitating said adoption. Frameworks are being created to understand the implementation process, but they remain focused on learning within one health system. TO-REACH aims to address this gap. The project provides a European strategy to advance understanding of the adoption, implementation and potential scale-up of service and policy innovations. Additionally, it addresses their translation to other settings within and across countries. 

Priority areas

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.
  • 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; and effective governance and improved financing

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

Transferring innovations

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. They should assess the features of the receiving health system; the factors that can facilitate and hinder the transfer of the innovation; and they should evaluate 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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