frugal innovationWe study emerging themes in innovation and apply the lessons to investigate real life projects, issues, and concerns that are timely and relevant to health providers and policy makers. We use methods from the social science, decision science, and political science to explore the institutional, organisational, and behavioural aspects of innovation discourse, development, and diffusion. Our objective is to foster and further an understanding of innovations that spread, within and across health systems, in and between low-, middle- and high-income settings.

Global Diffusion of Healthcare Innovation

Global diffusion of healthcare innovation

The Global Diffusion of Healthcare Innovation (GDHI) study is an ongoing research programme, funded by the Qatar Foundation, investigating the factors and behaviours, which can facilitate the rapid adoption and diffusion of innovations within health systems.  The first phase, From Innovation to Transformation, led to a framework of system characteristics, enablers and frontline behaviours that were found to be necessary for the successful diffusion of healthcare innovation within health systems. The second and third phases of the research assessed the importance and prevalence of elements of the framework within a variety of health systems in eight different countries, from the perspective of individuals inside health systems that have successfully managed the adoption and diffusion process.

Further reading

Read the annual GDHI reports launched at the World Innovation Summit for Health (WISH) in Qatar: 

Translating Frugal Innovations into the US Health System

Translating frugal innovations into the US health system

As part of its Breakthrough Health Care Opportunities programme, the US Commonwealth Fund is seeking to identify frugal innovations from low income or industrialized countries that could, if transferred to the US, offer approaches for expanding access to care and dramatically lowering costs.  The project sought to investigate:

  1. How can cost effective, high impact innovations be discovered?
  2. To what extent could these be useful to the US? 
  3. What needs to be evaluated and facilitated to improve diffusion of these innovations from dissimilar contexts?

To support this objective, the Institute of Global Health Innovation (IGHI) has conducted a study to identify potential innovations and evaluate their potential for successful adoption in the US health system, involving:

  • Developing frameworks for assessing innovations
  • Completing a global scan of frugal innovations, using the frameworks to evaluate innovations
  • Developing in-depth case studies of those innovations with the greatest potential for translation into the US.

Reverse Innovation

Reverse innovation

Reverse Innovation is the adoption, by high-income countries, of innovations developed by and scaled in low-income countries.  Rapid global geopolitical changes mean emerging economies now demonstrate impressive hotspots of innovation. Dramatic funding constraints in high-income country health systems, mean we require a sea change in how and where we source innovations. Doing more for less is business-as-usual in low-income countries, and therefore some models of care in these settings can offer high-income countries inspiration for their own delivery systems.

However, this non-traditional paradigm engenders many barriers.  Our research examines the barriers to Reverse Innovation - cognitive, social, institutional and organizational.  Current research includes: 

  1. What constitutes a Reverse Innovation and can we develop a typology? 
  2. To what extent does Reverse Innovation, as the antithesis of development studies, challenge current institutions and narratives? 
  3. How important is perception of the innovator context in the diffusion of the innovation? 
  4. Do biases and prejudices exist against low-income country research or innovations?

Frugal Innovation

Frugal innovation

Our study of innovation is motivated to make healthcare better, globally. The results of our research feeds into the formulation of policies for greater evidence based affordable and quality healthcare. The objective of frugal innovation in healthcare revolves around issues of effectiveness, efficiency, and sustainability. Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust is the country's largest NHS trust and frugal innovation has particular relevance to social and public infrastructure such as the NHS for healthcare as well as for global health systems. Through our various partnerships we advocate an interdisciplinary approach to innovation with a particular emphasis on design, engineering, and health-care technology, policies and processes that accelerate co-creation, adoption, and diffusion of innovation. Current research includes:

  1. How can we best use and apply theoretical models of frugal innovations in healthcare?
  2. What frameworks can be used to best identify, evaluate and prioritize frugal innovations in healthcare?
  3. How do we find relevant new products, processes and policies in healthcare?
  4. What is the potential for translation into other contexts and how is it different for developing and developed healthcare settings?
  5. How can co-location of interdisciplinary teams better solve problems in healthcare, sustainably?
  6. How can frugal innovations be enhanced beyond cost concerns?

Grassroots Innovation

Grassroots innovation

One pathway to frugal innovation is grassroots innovation, which involves solving community-level needs by leveraging innate ingenuity and local resources to develop self-made solutions that are appropriate and cost-effective. The objective of this research is to explore how grassroots innovation, as a source of frugal innovation, can be directed at prevention and wellness-oriented outcomes. The project seeks to investigate:

  1. Can grassroots innovation efforts redirect health systems to prevent chronic disease and promote sustained population health?
  2. Can grassroots innovation efforts foster behaviors aimed at prevention and sustained health amongst particularly vulnerable populations?
  3. How can grassroots innovation efforts be leveraged within processes for health system transformation and innovation? And, how can technology and communication networks help?