Tuesday, November 19, 2019

Public policy can create strong foundations for medical innovation. Here are the 7 most important policy areas for governments to consider that emerged from the analysis of the Global Innovation Index 2019.


This article is part of a series about the power of innovation to solve social and economic challenges.


New medical technologies have the power to transform health, society and the economy, but the future of healthcare innovation depends on the support of governments. The Global Innovation Index 2019 identifies seven priorities for health innovation policy:


1. Ensuring medical innovation funding

Public spending must remain the main source of funding for scientific health research. This is because the social benefits of spending on medical innovation far exceed the private financial returns of R&D. Government-funded medical R&D in public research institutes is of paramount importance.


2. Taking innovations from bench to bedside

Once significant health R&D has been financed and carried out, diffusing new technologies or services depends on linkages between public and private actors. Making what is often a giant leap into a smaller step requires public-private collaborations and a culture of entrepreneurship in public research bodies.


3. Moving from cure to prevention

Effective disease prevention goes far beyond medical innovation. Environmental, agricultural, and infrastructure policies that improve air and water quality have well-documented benefits on overall health and well-being. Too often, health-related policies are treated separately — condemning medical research to a perpetual game of catch-up with diseases and health conditions triggered or aggravated by pollutants.



4. Advancing skills and education

The most important resource for medical research is a workforce with the right skill sets. Serious medical staff shortages exist in both developed and emerging markets. Workforce planning would ensure that staff are able to put new health technologies into practice.


5. Supporting new data infrastructure and regulations

We need digital health strategies that create strong data infrastructure, with new processes for safe and efficient data collection, management, and sharing. A lack of data governance could raise concerns about security and trust.


In addition to data infrastructure, new regulatory processes are needed to overcome the increasing duration and complexity of clinical trials, with current processes being too cumbersome.


6. Improving cost-benefit assessments

The idea of assessing health innovation is not new. Sweden and Switzerland have been at the forefront of health technology assessments for many years. In the U.K., the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence provides evidence-based guidance. There is work to be done to spread these approaches to more countries.


7. Debating risks, social values and the value of life

New technologies bring new possibilities, but also risks and uncertainties—some of which will challenge current ethics and societal values, particularly in the field of genetic engineering.


To avoid a race to the bottom — in which countries adopt the lowest-common safety or ethical denominator — international coordination is needed. Together we must answer questions about whether and what the limits are to preserving human life and developing new technologies. Societies around the world will increasingly have to confront such questions, in the nexus between technology and health.


The GLOBAL INNOVATION INDEX 2019 is the result of a collaboration between Cornell University, INSEAD, and the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) as co-publishers, and their Knowledge Partners, Confederation of Indian Industry, Dassault Systèmes, SEBRAE, Brazilian Micro and Small Industry Support Services, and Brazilian Confederation of Industry.


Published under Creative Commons Attribution-NoDerivatives 4.0 International (CC BY-ND 4.0) licence. That means you can copy and redistribute the material in any medium or format for any purpose, even commercially, but you cannot change it in any way.

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