On 20 May 2021, the project TO-REACH – Transferring innovation in health systems held its Final Conference ‘Implementing and transferring innovations across health systems’. During the conference, the key outcomes of the TO-REACH project were presented: the Strategic Research Agenda and the Policy Briefs, concluding the work done over the past five years.
TO-REACH project kicked off in November 2016, bringing together 28 partners from 20 countries including EU Member States, Norway, Israel, Canada, and the US. The objective of the project was to do the groundwork of establishing a joint European research programme on health services and systems that contributes to the resilience, effectiveness, equity, accessibility, sustainability and comprehensiveness of health services and systems.
EHMA was the leader of the TO-REACH Work Package 6 on Dissemination and Communication, raising the visibility of the project and disseminating information on the project progress and outputs. EHMA has also engaged and mobilised stakeholders and the wider community to become active members of the TO-REACH coordination and support action, all the while promoting its results and outcomes.
Policy Briefs the culmination of five years of work
The conference brought together high-level speakers from the WHO, the European Commission and Ministries of Health, as well as project partners, academia, NGOs and the public to discuss the work done by the project and the future of health systems and service research. With over 230 attendees and an impressive line-up of speakers, the conference presented an ideal opportunity to reflect on the challenges health systems are facing, the key achievements of the TO-REACH project – Strategic Research Agenda and Policy Briefs, and to look forward at the Partnership on Transforming Health and Care Systems that the project helped build.
The development and publication of the Policy Briefs was one of the core activities of the project. The Policy Briefs, addressed to policy-makers and health system managers, were designed to provide policy-makers with evidence on a policy question or priority to support evidence-informed policy-making.
Policy Brief 40: How can we transfer service and policy innovations between health systems? looks at the how – that is, how health systems can learn from each other. It also looks at what determines success and failure in the transfer of service and policy innovations and in scale-up. Policy Brief 41: What are the key priority areas where European health systems can learn from each other? identifies the what – that is, what health system challenges are the highest priorities.
The conference highlighted the importance of collaboration in research and implementation. Since every health system is innovative, there is a challenge in understanding how innovation works in one place but struggles to spread and function effectively in another. The aim of TO-REACH was to address this very challenge and facilitate the process of mutual learning across countries.
The conference also reflected on the current programmes and initiatives fostering transnational cooperation in health and innovation, such as Partnership on Transforming Health and Care Systems which TO-REACH helped build. This Partnership will provide the needed framework and ambition to meet the gaps in research and innovation, and it will bring together the whole value-chain of healthcare stakeholders so that the complexity of health systems is duly addressed. The Partnership was also considered as a great opportunity to mobilising major research innovation funding to inform policy and practice.
This project has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under grant agreement No. 733274.