Health innovation and COVID-19 pandemic: Defining the need and response.
A question heard on the wards recently – how can we capture all the innovations that have emerged from the COVID-19 pandemic? I’m sure that there are similar questions in hospitals, GP surgeries and other organisations across the world.
In order to answer this question we need to start by defining innovation. The World Health Organization (which might want to drop the American spelling in light of recent political decisions) defines health innovation as follows:
“Health innovation is to develop new or improved health policies, systems, products and technologies, and services and delivery methods that improve people’s health, with a special focus on the needs of vulnerable populations.
- WHO engages in health innovation in the context of universal health coverage
- Health innovation adds value in the form of improved efficiency, effectiveness, quality, safety and/or affordability
- Health innovation can be in preventive, promotive, therapeutic, rehabilitative and/or assistive care”
In classic Public Health style WHO identifies 3 overlapping domains necessary to capture health innovation fully – science innovation (R&D), social innovation, and business innovation – each of which we can see in evidence in the wider pandemic response.
This is a useful definition for a number of reasons: