As governments are moving forward with UHC, many innovators are considering their own role in achieving that goal. They are grappling with very complex questions: How can I align my business with government priorities? How can I develop products and services that are responsive to the needs of the health system? Can I viably scale through the public sector, and if so, what are the pathways?
These are big questions without easy answers that differ for each business or innovation. Our team used our experience with peer learning to help innovators answer some of these questions for themselves, with the support of their peers and other stakeholders.
On June 11th, our team traveled to Bangalore, India attend the Innovations for Universal Health Coverage (UHC) Conclave hosted by partners from India, Kenya, the UK and the US. While there, we, in partnership with Public Health Foundation of India (PHFI), designed and facilitated an Innovator’s Deep Dive workshop that allowed each individual participant to talk about their most pressing challenges, share their expertise, and develop new solutions -- all in just a few hours.
CHMI has been facilitating peer learning and adaptation among innovators in the health market since 2013, and for the sake of innovation, we decided to utilize some Liberating Structures models for our Innovator’s Deep Dive Session. We started off with an Insider Experience Fishbowl, where Results for Development’s Donika Dimovska spoke with four diverse stakeholders to hear their perspectives on the role of innovators in UHC:
- Mr. Mohammad Ameel, National Health Systems Resource Centre, Ministry of Health & Family Welfare
- Mr. Aleck Dhilwayo, Population Services International (PSI) Zimbabwe
- Dr. Somen Saha, Indian Institute of Public Health Gandhinagar, Public Health Foundation of India (PHFI)
- Dheeman Vaidya, Medtronic
Traditional panel formats can separate the audience from the speakers and perpetuate passive participation and disengagement, but a fishbowl format allows for more active listening from the audience and a more frank conversation between moderators and speakers.
This activity encouraged rich discussion between speakers and participants that could have continued for several hours. The conversation touched on issues including:
- Public procurement processes and a lack of clarity around what is involved in decision making and what informal and formal pathways exist.
- Challenges with consistent, timely, and high quality data collection, including the impact this has on the use of the Health Technology Assessment (HTA). Participants discussed the need for innovations that lighten the burden of data collection and reporting for healthcare providers.
- The need for innovations that do not rely on the cloud or data use for community health workers (CHWs) working in remote areas. Data collected should be shared back with communities and CHWs.
- A multidisciplinary approach to UHC that engages other ministries and sectors including science, rural development, small and medium enterprises, social justice, and health and family welfare departments.
The conversation set the stage for the rest of the workshop. It allowed the group to gain a common understanding of the constraints and opportunities from the government perspective, and think about what innovators might need to think about in order to scale through the public sector.
After the Insider Experience Fishbowl, participants reflected on their own work and their current challenge as an innovator contributing to the UHC movement. In a fast-paced activity called Troika Consulting that limited extraneous explanation, participants were in groups of three and gave and received advice on their most pressing challenges. We encouraged participants to give empathetic, yet brave and creative advice.
Participants then began to brainstorm small solutions they could start to implement immediately with the resources and authority that they currently have. These are called 15% Solutions. This allowed innovators to shift focus from the problems to the solutions - small things they could do right now that would enable action and progress after the Conclave.
Some of the solutions were as simple as connecting with innovators that they met at the workshop to continue collaborating. One participant got affirmation on their plans to further develop their diagnostic device.
Finally, we debriefed with What, So What, Now What? We discussed as a large group what we saw and heard over the course of the workshop (WHAT), what that means for each of us and for the sector (SO WHAT), and what we should do now (NOW WHAT).
One of the strongest demands that arose from these conversations was for an integrated digital and live platform where innovators and government could better communicate their respective needs. How can governments better communicate to innovators what they need? How can innovators better offer what they have as solutions to the government’s challenges? How can innovators get a better understanding of how to get public financing for their innovation? How can both sides better communicate their understanding of the health system, challenges and opportunities?
Our partners at PHFI are exploring ways to develop an active, moderated, responsive, multi-sectoral platform to address the needs identified by innovators and policymakers alike. PHFI, Amref and other partners are looking at ways to leverage existing platforms to facilitate more aligned and efficient progress for all working toward UHC.