A large number of technological innovations have emerged, in recent years, aimed at addressing different health-related problems. This has raised the possibility of transformational changes that could enable health systems to make rapid progress in expanding access to effective and affordable health services, especially for the poor. Despite the potential, very few innovations have had a substantial impact at scale. The aim of the Innovation for UHC Collaboration is to find ways to leverage the transformational potential of these innovations and accelerate progress towards achieving UHC in low- and middle-income countries (LMIC) in Asia and Africa. It is led by the Public Health Foundation of India (PHFI), a global centre of excellence in public health, Amref Health Africa (Amref), the leading health development NGO in Africa and the Institute of Development Studies (IDS), the leading centre in multi-disciplinary approaches to development. It will bring together technology innovators, investors, government officials and public and private sector health service providers to consider practical strategies for transforming health care delivery in Asia and Africa.
The launch meeting is planned for June 11-12th 2018 in Bangalore, India at the GE Whitefield Innovation Campus. With technical partners Health Systems Global and State Government representatives the aim of this conclave are to bridge capacity-gaps, initiate a south-south dialogue and identify factors facilitating adoption, usage and scaling of health innovations in LMICs (or country specific). One important focus of the discussion will be the creation of new kinds of partnership between public and private sectors covering the following areas:
- Integrating/ bundling discrete innovations to improve access, delivery and affordability of healthcare services
- The role of regulations and regulators in encouraging the development and application at scale of innovations for meeting the health care needs of vulnerable populations
- Understanding demand for different kinds of health services, its implications for types of services provided and alternative approaches for financing access to these services;
- Private-Public sector collaborations that accelerate the adoption of new healthcare delivery models and new models of health financing;
- Investment and finance for the development of innovations and their integration into the provision of services at scale
The one- and- half day summit will address:
- How LMIC health systems (India SE Asia) can take low cost innovations to scale
- Cross-country regional uptake of mature innovations
- What kind of business models lend themselves to sustaining innovations at scale that help in delivering UHC
- What types of investments exist in the health innovation markets today
Context for the Conclave:
Address Domestic Health Policy Implementation: The event aligns with two important policy priorities–the GoI‘s progress on Universal Health Coverage through the National Health Protection Scheme (Ayshman Bharat) and with the Niti Ayog’s Atal Innovation Mission and Atal Incubation Centres that are fostering indigenous innovation across various platforms including health. The conclave will explore how socially driven health innovations can potentially address the Indian Government’s commitment to achieving Universal Health Coverage through the recently announced National Health Protection (Social Insurance Scheme) targeted at Vulnerable Populations and more specifically its roll-out in States. The role of sectoral innovation to bridge gaps in public sector provision in health care access and delivery will also be highlighted.
Leverage Health-Innovations to progress Universal Health Coverage:
A new breed of frugal social innovators has emerged in a number of countries in Asia and Africa. Working with limited resources, their unconventional interventions are increasingly being seen as a way to meet huge unmet needs. However, many creative and innovative technologies that have already been seeded and incubated remain as prototypes unable to find markets and public health systems to scale-up and thereby achieve impact. This has led to a search for ways to overcome constraints to scaling up.
Several donor agencies and private investors have become increasingly interested in potential markets for low-cost health services. Experience in other sectors suggests that it may take time for a combination of innovations and new types of partnership to become established and eventually reach a tipping point. Governments can play an important role in influencing the speed and direction of health innovations through its use of resources to support investment, purchase services and also by enacting and implementing regulations.
A recent analysis of ICT Innovation has identified several factors affecting scaling of innovations including:
- Single innovations, on their own, are unlikely to have a major impact on health markets and health-seeking behavior. People need access to a bundle of services that include low cost diagnostics, advice on treatment and easy access to affordable and good quality medicines. In most health systems, this involves a mix of organizations in terms of their size, their business model and their relationship to the regulatory system.
- Taking innovations to scale is likely to involve several organizations from within and outside the health sector (tech innovators, mobile phone operators, pharmaceutical sector) involving new kinds of partnerships between companies with different business models
- Regulatory arrangements in the health, pharmaceutical, medical device and telecommunications sectors will influence capacity to go to scale
Central and local governments play a key leadership role in the formulation and implementation of strategies for making progress towards UHC. They will need to adapt their approach in order to promote rapid technological innovation. Government regulation of health care and its allocation of public funds for basic health services can either aid or hinder innovation. It is important for innovators to understand the extensive network of regulations that may affect a particular innovation and how and by whom those rules are enacted, modified, and applied. It is also important that government officials have access to information and evidence on health system innovations to enable them to make informed decisions on how to regulate this space as well as consider the type of innovations that can be adopted at scale.
An opportunity for mutual learning
The conclave will bring together people who have been involved in the design and implementation of health care innovations, which have the potential to be taken to scale and transferred between regions and countries. The aims are to recognize and encourage healthcare innovators and serve as platform for public and private sectors to explore the potential for new kinds of partnership to take low -cost technology solutions for improving health care delivery to scale. It will provide an opportunity for dialogue between public and private sectors, between health and other sectors and between innovators and government officials from India and Africa on the following –
- Sharing evidence on early stage and more mature innovations that can inform decision making and policy formulation
- Discussing ways and means for regulations and regulators to enhance and support innovation in low-cost health care
- Establishing partnerships to take innovative health care solutions to scale
- Public and private sector collaborations that accelerate the adoption of innovations
- Understand pro-innovation business models
The expected outcomes include:
- A platform identifying strategies for integrating technological innovation into policy mandates for achieving UHC.
- The establishment of a working collaboration aimed at documenting factors and facilitating development and integration of innovations into service delivery across Indian States
- A follow up meeting in Kigale at the Africa Agenda Summit.
- Working models to identify develop and promote the scaling of disruptive healthcare innovations across sectors.
Conclave Participant Profile
The meeting will bring together stakeholders with different positions in the health innovation ecosystems in India and Africa including (i) state level policymakers in the health and innovation sectors; (ii) government and non-government providers of health services, (iii) small scale technology innovators, (iv) researchers and (v) private companies in the health, communications and technology sectors (vi) private and public investors in health sector innovations. The aim is to build a common understanding of the challenges to be addressed and effective strategies that have emerged for stimulating innovations and taking them to scale in making progress towards UHC. The conclave will enable implementers and end-users from both public and private sectors to interface around issues of scale, regulatory reform and the use of technology to improve existing or re-engineer new models of health delivery across various levels of care. It will also enable representatives of users of health services to influence the innovation process.
 Bloom, G., Berdou, E., Standing, H., Guo, Z. and Labrique, A. ICTs and the challenge of health system transition in low- and middle-income countries. Globalization and Health 15-36