Innovating health through just-in-time evidence-based information

Hearing the term health care innovation, most people associate it with new technologies like robotic caregivers, digital imaging or breakthroughs in chronic disease treatment. The decision-making process towards the use of any of those innovative choices is based on the physician’s knowledge and experience.

“Healthcare innovation can be defined as the introduction of a new concept, idea, service, process, or product aimed at improving treatment, diagnosis, education, outreach, prevention and research, and with the long term goals of improving quality, safety, outcomes, efficiency and costs” (Omachonu et al. 2010). Thus, process innovations focus on improving quality of care for patients and enhancing health providers’ internal capabilities. However, innovation is difficult – the health field has rich evidence-based innovations, but they disseminate slowly, if at all (Berwick 2003). Six areas have been identified in making or breaking innovation in healthcare (Herzlinger 2006):

  • Policy
  • Stakeholders
  • Funding
  • Technology
  • Customers
  • Accountability

One opportunity to introduce innovation in healthcare is the use of evidence-based information, which is highly relevant to that particular patient – especially at the point-of-care. But how can the use of this kind of information be facilitated?

One tool that I came across is Elsevier’s ClinicalKey ( It is a tool that physicians can use to access evidence to make informed decisions at the point-of-care and throughout the patient journey. The ClinicalKey reference system links clinicians, medical librarians, and researchers to an online platform, which contains content from medical journals, books, multimedia, MEDLINE abstracts and other sources. Did you come across any similar tools?


To me, fast access to high-quality research evidence to inform decision-making in clinical practice is absolutely important for innovating – improving – health. What do we need to solve this?

Maybe we need harder, better, faster, stronger tools as such, but what I wonder more about is the role of stakeholders as the leaders in these processes. How can leadership for evidence-informed decision-making in health be encouraged? How to cure resistance to change and innovation?

Berwick DM (2003). Disseminating innovations in healthcare. JAMA, 289(15):1969-1975
Herzlinger RE (2006). Why innovation in healthcare is so hard.
Omachonu VK, Einspruch NG (2010). Innovation in healthcare delivery systems – a conceptual framework. The Innovation Journal: The Public Sector Innovation Journal, 15(1):2.


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About Olivia Biermann

I'm passionate about Health Communication Sciences and Global Health. From 11/2013 till 10/2014, I worked at the Department of Learning, Informatics, Management and Ethics at Karolinska Institutet where I was involved in a study about health promotion among disadvantaged populations in Stockholm for the prevention of chronic illness. I'm currently working as a consultant at the World Health Organization in Copenhagen.

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