Global health innovation summit offers new approach through behavioural science


The World Innovation Summit for Health Behavioural Insights Forum

The World Innovation Summit for Health Behavioural Insights Forum

Harnessing new insights about behaviour leads to better health outcomes, says new report released this week at the World Innovation Summit for Health.

Much of the global burden of disease arises from unhealthy behaviors, which people struggle to change even if they have the awareness, intention and ability to do so.  Research from the last 40 years shows that our decisions are often not deliberate and considered, but habitual, automatic and heavily influenced by the environment in which they are made. 

Our behaviour is also strongly influenced by what we observe others doing in the same situation. For example, studies have shown that when a person’s spouse quits smoking, it sharply increases their own chances of quitting by 67 per cent.  Evidence also shows that obesity is similarly linked to social networks.

A new report published this week by the World Innovation Summit for Health (WISH) in Doha, Qatar, outlines of how we can use behavioural science as a tool to help improve global healthcare.  By gaining insights into new and innovative ways in which to promote healthy habits and negate risky behaviour, we can work towards the prevention of diseases like cancer, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, chronic respiratory diseases and musculoskeletal disorders.

These conditions account for the greatest disease burden in industrialised nations and increasingly worldwide and are estimated to cost $30.4 trillion in lost output and treatment costs over the next 20 years. The leading causes of mortality in developing countries can also be greatly reduced through actively encouraging behaviours such as breastfeeding; using mosquito nets effectively; using oral rehydration therapy; and attending vaccination appointments.  

Global innovation 

WISH LogoThe report is part of a series of 11 reports which were discussed at WISH on 29th and 30th November 2016. WISH, an initiative of Qatar Foundation for Education, Science and Community Development (QF) and in partnership with Imperial’s Centre for Health Policy within the Institute of Global Health Innovation (IGHI) was launched in 2013.  The aim of WISH is to create a community where the world’s leading health innovators, researchers and policymakers can share their ideas and work together to implement best practices for the benefit of local and global populations. In the years since, WISH has proven itself to be a platform for action around the world. 

As well as behavioural science, various panel discussions were held on topics including accountable care, autism, cardiovascular disease, healthy populations, health professional education, health economics, Islamic ethics and precision medicine, each chaired by experts in the field.

Keynotes were heard from Chief Medical Officer for the UK Department of Health, Dame Sally Davies, who updated us on the global action plan for antimicrobial resistance. President of the University of Miami, Dr Julio Frenk, talked about the importance of educational innovation whilst Dr Lawrence Summers, President Emeritus at Harvard University, addressed best practices in financing global healthcare.  The final keynote was presented by Mustafa Suleyman, co-founder of Google DeepMind Health, who updated us on upcoming and new technologies in global health and big data application. 

In addition to the annual summit, WISH has several ongoing projects, including Global Diffusion of Healthcare Innovation (GDHI),an assessment of how healthcare systems around the world adopt new innovations and spread them successfully, with the aim of inspiring other countries to adopt the best methods and ideas.

Next generation  

Young innovator

Each year WISH hosts a Young Innovator competition.

Each year, WISH highlights innovations in healthcare through its Young Innovators Competition and Young Innovators and Young Leaders programmes, which serve as platforms to showcase tomorrow’s most promising healthcare leaders.

The WISH 2016 Innovation Showcases provide a chance for entrepreneurs to exhibit their healthcare innovations and enables delegates to engage with ideas that are changing healthcare from the ground up. 

Health systems

Also, WISH’s Leading Health Systems Network (LHSN) is a collaborative network of healthcare leaders and organisations dedicated to improving healthcare delivery by effectively and efficiently using available resources. LHSN is an initiative of WISH in partnership with the Centre for Health Policy. Its network brings together the best ideas, models of care and strategies to drive sustained improvement, and connects healthcare leaders to a like-minded community of peers that share the same goals and challenges.

The World Innovation Summit for Health brings the world to Qatar and Qatar to the world - as a convenor, innovator and leader in health to discuss some of the most prevalent healthcare challenges.

– Professor the Lord Ara Darzi

Executive Chair of WISH and Director of IGHI

Professor the Lord Ara Darzi, Executive Chair of WISH and Director of IGHI said “Around the world our health systems face enormous challenges. Never has the need for innovation been greater nor opportunity to work together larger. The World Innovation Summit for Health brings the world to Qatar and Qatar to the world - as a convenor, innovator and leader in health to discuss some of the most prevalent healthcare challenges.  Only through an ethical, collaborative and innovative approach can we make the progress our societies need and improve global healthcare for generations to come.

Further reading

Read all the WISH reports here
Find out more about the topics discussed by reading our blog  

View a selection of photos from the summit on Flickr here 

To find out more about WISH, visit the website.


Jo Seed

Jo Seed
Institute of Global Health Innovation

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