Current projects
Developing a global index of health care innovation
Developing a global index of health care innovation

Health care innovation is considered essential for meeting the challenge of providing affordable high quality health care for an ageing population with rising rates of chronic disease. Improving the speed at which effective and affordable health care technologies are developed and diffused is critical. There are a number of reports comparing how different countries perform in relation to their health care innovation capacity, i.e. their capabilities for adopting innovative solutions developed elsewhere and for originating innovations themselves. A tool that enables countries to be compared on a range of innovation indicators would: a) focus attention on the relative performance of the UK (or any other country's) health system, pinpointing its strengths and weaknesses, identifying bottlenecks and issues for attention; and b) help medical technology and life sciences companies by providing an understanding of the attractiveness of each country's health system as a market for products, as a source of innovations, and as a location for R&D.

In order to develop a health care innovation index, the PIRU team worked with colleagues from Imperial College Business School who developed the methodology for the Global Entrepreneurship and Development Index (GEDI), which uses data from over 120 countries on entrepreneurial attitudes, aspirations and activity to provide a detailed cross-national index. The aim is to provide a health care version of the GEDI.

There is much anecdote and received wisdom about health care innovation – for example, ‘the UK is good at generating innovations but poor at adopting them’. While the volume of research on health care innovation processes has grown over the last 10 years, what is lacking is an evaluation of where different countries stand in relation to their health care innovation capacity – their capabilities for adopting innovative solutions developed elsewhere and for originating innovations themselves. A tool for cross-national comparative assessment of innovation indicators for health care would be valuable in two ways:

1) It would focus attention on the relative performance of the UK (or any other country’s) health system, pinpointing its strengths and weaknesses, identifying bottlenecks and issues for attention.This would enable policy-makers and the health care sector to identify and prioritise the levers that can have the greatest impact on innovation.

2) It would help international and domestic medical technology and life sciences companies by providing an understanding of the attractiveness of each country’s health system as a market for products, as a source of innovations, and as a location for R&D.

While there are global innovation and entrepreneurship indices, there has been little progress on the creation of such an index that specifically capture health innovation across countries.

PIRU carried out a scoping project which looked at key conceptual, methodological and data issues for developing a global index on health care innovation. The project involved a literature review on technology adoption in health care, an investigation of national policies aimed at stimulating the take-up of health care innovation, and exploring how their methodologies could be adapted for use in health care.

PIRU's report outlines the goundwork needed to develop a global healthcare innovation index. It's conclusions were:

- Existing health innovation indices are limited and contain insufficient information on how they are derived.

- Developing a new index will require compromise so that it is sufficiently complex to capture the multi-dimensional nature of health innovation, yet simple enough so that it can be easily communicated and interpreted.

- It will be necessary to proceed with caution and to understand how indicators impact on innovation processes. This requires indices to be underpinned by a clear theoretical framework.

- A number of issues will require greater attention than was possible in the current report, such as looking not only at national scores for innovation, but also at regional variation, and exploring the evolution of health innovation across countries.

- While a global healthcare innovation index can be used to explore potential relationships between innovation performance and other health care phenomena, care is needed when looking at such relationships - e.g. between innovation performance and health outcomes - and it must be remembered that correlation should not be mistaken for causation.

PIRU's report sets out the steps that are needed for building a composite indicator on health innovation drawing on the state of the art in index development. We are now working to develop a prototype for a sample of countries.




The report "Developing a Global Healthcare Innovation Index" was published in February 2017 and can be accessed here>>