GDHIThe diffusion or spread of innovations over time through a specific population or social system is important to unlock the potential benefits of an innovation. There has been much study of how to encourage the uptake of innovations so that they become part of everyday practice and benefit many, rather than a few. In this research, we explore this from the demand side. This report, ‘Global Diffusion of Healthcare Innovation: Making the connections’ looks at how frontline health workers (FHWs) and leaders find solutions to their everyday challenges, and which sources are the most influential. It considers how these groups are sourcing solutions to their problems in six countries and how healthcare organisations can source innovations more effectively to meet the needs of FHWs and leaders. The study also explores the role that ‘curator organisations’ – a specialised set of organisations that source innovations from around the world – are playing in helping to diffuse innovations into clinical practice. It considers what role these organisations could play in future to ensure that they are relevant to frontline needs.

The study builds on previous findings from 2013 GDHI research that showed how certain system characteristics, enablers and frontline behaviours are critical to diffusion. It follows on from the 2015 GDHI study that assessed the importance and prevalence of these elements in eight case studies of rapid, successfully scaled innovations. This year, the study focuses on how FHWs and organisation leaders source innovation in the first place.

Report insights

The study explores the role that ‘curator organisations’ – specialised organisations that source innovations from around the world – are playing to help diffuse innovations into clinical practice.

Data is drawn from quantitative surveys of more than 1,350 frontline health workers in major urban centres of six countries (England, the US, Qatar, Brazil, India and Tanzania), as well as over 90 personal interviews with healthcare leaders in these locations and in-depth conversations with the managers of 10 curator organisations.

What is clear from the survey of healthcare workers and from the interviews with leaders is that healthcare organisations in each country are grappling with a very specific set of needs. The report finds that FHWs hold huge potential for improving healthcare delivery and that FHWs most often source ideas close to home.

One surprising finding is that patients are cited almost as frequently as professional colleagues as sources of ideas for FHWs. Recognising that patients are an important source of ideas for improving healthcare highlights the fact that ideas and solutions can come from anywhere.

Further Reading

Read the full report here.

Read all the WISH forum reports here.