News & Updates


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.

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

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.

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

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.

TO-REACH – COVID-19 Statement

Enhanced solidarity and exchange of knowledge on service and policy innovation: crucial instruments to strengthen our health and care systems in a rapidly evolving environment

The COVID-19 pandemic is having an enormous impact on our health systems, and most of them are responding with speed and innovation. This crisis is putting an unprecedented level of pressure on all components of our systems, with new and evolving thinking on how to efficiently and effectively address the various challenges it creates for decision-makers, planners, those working at the frontline of service delivery and the wider population. Health systems are introducing radical changes in terms of emergency protocols, public health measures integrated with the reorganisation of hospital care, responding to the pressures placed on critical care in particular, innovative digital solutions, shortages of medical and protective equipment and infrastructure, and redeploying health care workers, while ensuring that the most vulnerable in the population and those providing essential services are being cared for.  The pandemic is strongly impacting on health research, too, reprioritising and revising ongoing work to support health system efforts to tackle the crisis, extraordinary levels of data exchange, collaboration between sectors, analysis and a shared need for new evidence. Connection between action and research has never been so necessary even in domains as health policy and health services research.

This emergency clearly demonstrates once again the complexity and interconnectedness of our health and social care systems, and the complexity of introducing and managing change in a rapidly evolving environment. Novel diagnostic, containment and mitigation policies are essential to reduce the demand for critical services and ensure timely treatment. But as affordability is a clear prerequisite to access diagnostics and treatment, service and policy innovation is as crucial to effectively address health system capacity issues and overcome structural barriers. The TO-REACH Strategic Research Agenda has identified a number of key areas that are at the forefront of the pandemic crisis that our health systems are currently facing and that they might need to confront again in the future. These includes sustainable health service redesign and workforce planning, information technology and data exchange for health improvement, governance and health financing, collaboration, cross-country information exchange and research. These are at the very heart of the international debate on our health systems and services.

Health systems are learning from each other in real time with COVID-19, although with great uncertainty about what experiences elsewhere can teach us about our own systems and what we should do. This illustrates anew the need for enhanced solidarity and exchange of knowledge on our health and care systems and on how we should support the effective transfer and implementation of innovative services and policies within a sustainable framework for cooperation in Europe. Improved and shared understanding of the different contexts and their impacts on system performance and structures is vital.

Within this context the TO-REACH consortium, whilst supporting EU’s coordination efforts in response to the crisis, upholds the need for even stronger cooperation and exchange of knowledge and evidence, highlighting their crucial importance in improving and strengthening our health and care systems and services; today in the face of this unprecedented crisis and in the aftermath, when we will need to ensure sustainability and quality of care for all.

The TO-REACH Consortium

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Update and Agenda – Innovations in Health and Social Care – Enhancing Health and Wellbeing in Europe (3 December 2019)

As previously shared, the TO-REACH Consortium is organising together with the Finnish Institute for Health and Welfare (THL) and Academy of Finland, the conference ‘Innovations in Health and Social Care – Enhancing Health and Wellbeing in Europe‘. 

The conference, taking place on Tuesday 3rd December 2019, is organised under under the auspices of the Finnish Presidency of the European Union.

We’re glad to share the final agenda for the event, which will bring together representatives from different policy areas, as well as stakeholders from public and private sector, and academia.


9.00–9.30 Registration

9.30–10.30 Plenary Session

Chair: Nick Fahy, University of Oxford / European Observatory on Health Systems and Policies

  • Liisa-Maria Voipio-Pulkki, Director General of Strategic Affairs, Ministry of Social Affairs and Health, Finland
  • Pekka Rissanen, Deputy Director General, Knowledge and Data, Finnish Institute for Health and Welfare
  • Martin Seychell, Deputy Director General for Health and Food Safety, European Commission 
  • Pilar Aguar Fernandez, Head of Unit, Health Innovations, Research and Innovation, European Commission
  • Walter Ricciardi, Public Health Professor, Università Cattolica del Sacro Cuore, TO-REACH Project Coordinating Team and Chair of the Mission Board on Cancer
  • Usman Khan, Executive Director, European Patients Forum

10.30–11.00 Coffee break

11.00–13.00 Parallel Working Groups

First round at 11.00–12.00, second round at 12.00–13.00; participants can attend two working groups.

  • Working Group 1: Implementing patient-centered integrated care from health to well-being
  • Working Group 2: Paying for value and innovation
  • Working Group 3: Digitalisation of European health systems
  • Working Group 4: European health and care workforce for the future

13.00–14.00 Lunch buffet

14.00–14.45 Wrap up from chairs and rapporteurs of Working Groups

14.45–15.15 Coffee break

15.15–16.00 Open discussion and closing remarks

  • Markus Perola, Vice Chair of the Research Council for Biosciences, Health and the Environment, Academy of Finland
  • Silvio Brusaferro, President of the Italian National Institute of Health, TO REACH Project Coordinating Team

Date and time: Tuesday 3 December 2019 from 10:00 to 16:00 (CET)

Venue: Stanhope Hotel Brussels by Thon Hotels, Rue Du Commerce 9, Brussels, Belgium


The event is by invitation only. For more information, please contact: Riikka Rossi, THL
+358 29 524 7436
[email protected]

More info and details:

TO-REACH responds to European Commission Consultation on Horizon Europe

On Friday 6th September 2019, the TO-REACH Consortium responded to the European Commission public consultation ‘ Horizon Europe Co-design 2021-2024’, focused on co-designing and shaping the future EU research and innovation investment framework. The consultation collected inputs from across Europe and beyond, informing the Commission’s work towards the definition of a ‘Strategic Plan’ for Horizon Europe, which will guide the work programmes and calls for proposals for Horizon Europe’s first four years (2021-2024). The consultation and its results will be further discussed during the European Research and Innovation Days in Brussels from 24 to 26 September 2019.

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Save the date – Innovations in Health and Social Care – Enhancing Health and Wellbeing in Europe (3 December 2019)

The TO-REACH Consortium is glad to share the ‘save the date‘ for its upcoming event ‘Innovations in Health and Social Care – Enhancing Health and Wellbeing in Europe‘. The conference will be organised in collaboration with the Finnish Institute for Health and Welfare (THL), Academy of Finland and under the auspices of the Finnish Presidency of the European Union.

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Join our Online Consultation – Deadline Extended to 26th July 2019

Discover our Strategic Research Agenda and join the SRA Online Consultation

The TO-REACH Consortium is pleased to share its draft Strategic Research Agenda (SRA). The SRA has the ambition to address the increasing challenges faced by health systems, directed to those research areas of major relevance in the coming years. 

In particular, the TO-REACH SRA provides a European strategy to advance our knowledge and 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. 

Read More »

Check out the TO-REACH project video!

The TO-REACH Consortium is glad to share the first version of our dissemination video, featuring statements from Walter Ricciardi, PI of TO-REACH and President of the Italian National Institute of Health (ISS); Natasha Azzopardi Muscat, President European Public Health Association; and Irene Norstedt, Acting Director DG Research – Health Directorate.

Discover our project objectives and activities, get to know our consortium and know more about the latest update from TO-REACH! Read More »