HealthcarePapers

HealthcarePapers 15(2) July 2015 : 8-14.doi:10.12927/hcpap.2015.24415
Invited Essay

Systematically Identified Failure Is the Route to a Successful Health System

Merrick Zwarenstein

Abstract

Although we have a systematic approach to innovation and evaluation (and scale-up) for treatments, medical technologies and diagnostic tests in healthcare, we have no equivalent for service delivery innovations. Service delivery innovation is common but frequently goes unevaluated, leading to less systematic decisions about which innovations are scaled up and which ones are not. The absence of a formal evaluation system for service delivery innovation means that there is no objective standard for evaluating an innovation's success or failure, and thus no way to decide whether it should be scaled up, adapted and retested, or not scaled up at all. This results in "bad failure" – the scale-up of innovations that are untested, and the failure to scale-up other innovations that might have been effective but no one measured their effectiveness in a systematic way.

 

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