Scaling and diffusion can be achieved following a decision to fund an innovative health product. Diffusion requires strategic and creative planning to motivate behaviour change. Innovations scale most rapidly and effectively when the diffusion strategy is devised and implemented from the Phase 1: Ideation and carried throughout the commercialization process. Early engagement and active involvement of potential adopters and users throughout the design, prototyping, and testing of the product creates a useful product and generates more buy-in and demand. For innovative health products to be widely adopted into the Ontario health care system, they must also be feasible and viable to implement.

Identify a payer and develop a reimbursement strategy early on in Phase 2: Product Development. Doing so will align the product value with the priorities of the health care system and demand of the user. Careful implementation planning will also save tremendous time and financial costs in order to align a product with the priorities of the health care system.

There are several ways to strategically navigate the health care system to form a strong implementation plan to increase the chance of successful adoption of an innovative health product into the complex Ontario health system:

  • Clinical Champions: Clinical champions are essential for driving the demand and adoption of an innovative health product. Find influential physicians willing to support an innovative health product.  Clinical champions can help achieve adoption by lobbying government or hospital boards, and on-boarding colleagues.

  • Patient Advocates: Patient advocates or advocacy groups can support the adoption of innovative health products by lobbying government, hospital boards and/or generating press. Patients are crucial players in the successful adoption of a product offering a patient perspective for the clinical utility and patient benefit.. Both patient advocates and clinical champions are the basis of education, advocacy, relationship building and boundary spanning to support the adoption of a product.

  • Engage Early Adopter Hospitals: There are two types of hospitals: early adopters (larger tertiary academic/research hospitals) vs. late adopters (community hospitals). Engage and target early adopter hospitals to help with scaling and diffusion.

  • Hospital and clinic pilots: Engage users and experts in Phase 2: Product Development to achieve downstream adoption. Partnering with hospitals and clinics to conduct pilot studies has many benefits. Involving users and experts early in the process may lead to more buy-in later. Actively involving clinical champions and patient advocates significantly influences the uptake of an innovative health product by advocating for its clinical utility and value. Engaging users and experts using a co-design approach helps identify whether your product meets an unmet need and user demand. Pilot testing also helps generate evidence required for government reimbursement, hospital procurement, or alternative payers.

  • Partner with a large health care organization: Partnering with a large health care organization increases the chance for successful implementation of an innovative health product. Large health care organizations have the infrastructure as well as the human, financial, and intellectual resources to support a product through the implementation process. Small companies may seek these partnerships to offset their lack of access to capital and resources that are often required as part of the long and expensive implementation process in Ontario. A strategic partnership will increase the chances of success.

  • Strategic procurement: Developing an innovative health product under an existing procurement model and developing a strategic pricing plan can help to create value and align a product with hospital funding mechanisms. It is important to determine where the product will meet the greatest need in regions and hospitals in Ontario in order to target specific organizations and buying groups. A strong business case that aligns with procurement requirements and health care priorities will make it easier to implement locally before wider spread scale in other regions.

  • International markets:  Regulatory and reimbursement practices are highly variable depending on the region. Modifying a business model to penetrate international markets may help with commercialization and adoption efforts before entry in the Ontario market. The implementation process in Ontario is long and expensive. The United States, which operates under a private health care model, is easier to penetrate, more densely populated and has the private capital to implement a new product and to generate revenue following commercialization.

  • Targeted Funding Programs and Opportunities: Targeted funding programs and opportunities in Canada and Ontario aim to support health innovators by providing the resources and talent required to develop, test and implement an innovative health product. These include programs like MaRS Procurement by-Co-DesignRyerson DMZ, Ontario’s Health Technology Fund and REACH Program

  • Hospital/Charitable Foundations and Private Donors: If an innovative health product solves an unmet need for specialized conditions, diseases, or diagnosis and treatment of health care problems, it is worthwhile to lobby hospital or charitable foundations as well as private donors. Donations from these organizations and donors can be very influential within a health care environment and may help to purchase new innovative products as well as provide the required infrastructure to house new innovations.


innovator's checklist

  • Consider strategies for mitigating common barriers to adoption.

  • If required, re-evaluate technology against province's political and health priorities. 


Last update: 2018-Nov-26

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