Experts at the Health Systems Innovation Lab want to help countries around the world transform the way they deliver care.
January 24, 2024 – In the fight against COVID-19 and HIV/AIDS, collaborations between governments, private companies and other entities play an important role in advancing research and development and scaling up treatments effect. Now, researchers at the Health Systems Innovation Laboratory (HSIL) at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health are helping countries around the world use this approach to address other health challenges.
HSIL launched its collaboration with pharmaceutical companies Novartis and Novo Nordisk at the World Economic Forum in Davos 2022. Professor Rifat Atun, Director of Global Health Systems, and colleagues returned to the event this month to demonstrate their approach to designing strategic public-private partnerships and measure their impact using a new tool called Targeted Population Outputs, and shared recent collaborative success stories. Cardiovascular disease in Colombia.
high value health system
Atun launched HSIL three years ago with the goal of developing innovative solutions to global health problems, with a focus on health systems. “We are working hard to build an interdisciplinary community of public health innovators,” he said. “Public health often focuses on problems. Of course, identifying and measuring problems is important, but we’re not always good at developing solutions.”
He and his colleagues see strategic public-private partnerships as a way to help countries transition to “high-value health systems”—that is, they provide “things for everything” by focusing on efficiency, effectiveness, equity and responsiveness. Value for money, bringing value to many people” public health and healthcare services provided.
Last fall, HSIL released a report outlining 10 components to measure whether G20+ countries have high-value health systems, such as digital data systems and means of measuring health outcomes. While the report found slow change at the national level, it identified a number of successful initiatives that could serve as models, such as an online portal in Australia that makes hospital cost data transparent.
In recent months, HSIL has convened international experts for mixed panel discussions to discuss how Brazil is using data analytics to address challenges in cardiovascular disease care as part of its transition to a high-value health system; how Brazil and other countries in Latin America are scaling up cancer care services; and how countries around the world fund cancer treatment.
Translate research into action
These are just a few of HSIL’s efforts to transform health systems around the world. In addition to collaborating on research and policy work with colleagues in more than 60 countries, HSIL provides students with research and mentoring opportunities and hosts an annual international hackathon, which last year saw 166 teams from 37 countries participate in live competitions Place and virtual. The winners join HSIL’s Startup Incubation Program where they receive mentorship and funding.
This year’s hackathon, which will be held simultaneously at Harvard University and in multiple locations in Brazil, Chile, Colombia, the United Kingdom, Mexico, Peru, Rwanda and Switzerland, will focus on leveraging artificial intelligence to develop high-value health systems.
Going forward, HSIL is providing policymakers with more opportunities to learn from each other. Atun and colleagues also collaborated with Charité University Hospital Berlin, one of Europe’s largest university hospitals affiliated with Humboldt University and Freie Universität Berlin, to create a database of health-related laws and policies around the world. The researchers plan to use machine learning to identify commonalities. The idea is that if policymakers want to create an anti-tobacco law, they don’t have to start from scratch. They can use this resource to identify the components of effective policies based on their country’s income levels and political environment.
Atun said this kind of research translation is key to HSIL’s goals. “Generating evidence and training students is a good thing. But at the end of the day, we have to make sure we get the policies right and implement them.”
– Amy Lord
Photo: Image: iStock/artisteer; Aton: Harvard Chan School