Criteria to Assess Potential Reverse Innovations: Opportunities for Shared Learning between High- and Low-income Countries

Onil Bhattacharyya*, Diane Wu, Kathryn Mossman, Leigh Hayden, Pavan Gill, Yu Ling Cheng, Abdallah Daar, Dilip Soman, Christina Synowiec, Andrea Taylor, Joseph Wong, Max Von Zedtwitz, Stanley Zlotkin, William Mitchell, Anita McGahan

*Corresponding author for this work

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Background: Low- and middle-income countries (LMICs) are developing novel approaches to healthcare that may be relevant to high-income countries (HICs). These include products, services, organizational processes, or policies that improve access, cost, or efficiency of healthcare. However, given the challenge of replication, it is difficult to identify innovations that could be successfully adapted to high-income settings. We present a set of criteria for evaluating the potential impact of LMIC innovations in HIC settings. Methods: An initial framework was drafted based on a literature review, and revised iteratively by applying it to LMIC examples from the Center for Health Market Innovations (CHMI) program database. The resulting criteria were then reviewed using a modified Delphi process by the Reverse Innovation Working Group, consisting of 31 experts in medicine, engineering, management and political science, as well as representatives from industry and government, all with an expressed interest in reverse innovation. Results: The resulting 8 criteria are divided into two steps with a simple scoring system. First, innovations are assessed according to their success within the LMIC context according to metrics of improving accessibility, cost-effectiveness, scalability, and overall effectiveness. Next, they are scored for their potential for spread to HICs, according to their ability to address an HIC healthcare challenge, compatibility with infrastructure and regulatory requirements, degree of novelty, and degree of current collaboration with HICs. We use examples to illustrate where programs which appear initially promising may be unlikely to succeed in a HIC setting due to feasibility concerns. Conclusions: This study presents a framework for identifying reverse innovations that may be useful to policymakers and funding agencies interested in identifying novel approaches to addressing cost and access to care in HICs. We solicited expert feedback and consensus on an empirically-derived set of criteria to create a practical tool for funders that can be used directly and tested prospectively using current databases of LMIC programs.
Original languageEnglish
Article number4
JournalGlobalization and Health
Issue number1
Number of pages8
Publication statusPublished - 25 Jan 2017
Externally publishedYes


  • Reverse innovation
  • Innovation
  • Healthcare delivery models
  • Low- and middle-income countries
  • Global health

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