World Innovation Summit for Health: Targeting action-driven development

The World Innovation Summit for Health (WISH) is a global healthcare community to capturing and disseminating the best evidence-based healthcare ideas and practices. As a global initiative of Qatar Foundation for Education, Science and Community Development (QF), WISH is closely aligned to the vision of Her Highness Sheikha Moza bint Nasser, Chairperson of QF. Professor the Lord Darzi of Denham, Director of the Institute of Global Health Innovation at Imperial College London, is the Executive Chair of WISH. The inaugural WISH Summit was held on 10-11 December 2013 in Doha, Qatar, and the next conference will take place on 17-18 February 2015 in Doha.

Through annual Summits and an ongoing research agenda focused on key health care challenges, WISH is building action-driven communities of leading innovators in healthcare policy, research and industry. Today, head of states, government officials, researchers and business leaders are using WISH's evidence-based, interdisciplinary approach to exchange ideas, diffuse innovative best practices through their health systems, and tackle the most urgent global health challenges.

Recently appointed CEO Egbert Schillings has joined WISH as it evolves into a leading influence within the global healthcare system. Mr Schillings is an accomplished business leader, with 20 years' experience in the global healthcare industry across payers, provider systems, best practice research, and consulting. With Mr. Schillings at the helm WISH aims to evolve into a leading influence to accelerate the innovation cycle for the benefit of populations everywhere.

A regular contributor to major international health events, Mr Schillings recently returned from the ninth meeting of the National Cancer Institute Directors, in Lyon, France, where he shared details of one the WISH 2015 research workstreams on the affordability of cancer care.

"Before holding WISH 2015, do you think that WISH 2013 was a success?"

"I attended the inaugural summit as a delegate because at the time I served regional and national health systems clients at McKinsey & Company. In that role I routinely attended health care conferences but instantly recognized that this one was different. It was the combination of quality content and the caliber of attendees. To be honest, I used some of the WISH reports immediately in my own work at McKinsey and distributed electronic copies to clients with enthusiastic endorsements. To give you one example: Many people talk about the concept of accountable care, not least since the introduction of the health reform act under President Obama. The WISH 2013 Forum report on Accountable Care was the single most lucid explanation of the theory and practice of accountable care I have ever seen and for policymakers and business leaders there simply is no better primer. You can download it from our website.  The WISH Forums were (and are) interdisciplinary working groups focused on key healthcare issues. Others included: Obesity, Mental Health, End-of-life, Road Traffic Injury, Patient engagement, Antimicrobial Resistance, and Big Data & Healthcare. The Forum Chairs - who are all distinguished experts in their fields - led a team of professionals drawn from academia, industry and policy, representing a broad range of perspectives on key global healthcare challenges. We can see the reports being used by policymakers and industry groups across the world.

"With regard to the delegates, it showed just how influential our global community can be. WISH 2013 attracted more than 1,000 global leaders, government officials, researchers and practitioners from 67 countries. The keynote speakers included Her Highness Sheikha Moza bint Nasser, Chairperson of QF; Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, one of the founding members and present Chairperson of the National League for Democracy (NLD) party in Burma (Myanmar); Boris Johnson, Mayor of London; and John Dineen, President and CEO of GE Healthcare. To name just a few. That is the essence of WISH - solid research as a foundation for action-oriented discussion among key leaders.

"A third factor was the launch of the Global Diffusion of Healthcare Innovation (GDHI) report. This unique study explores and compares how national healthcare systems adopt new innovations, disseminate them, and contribute to global change. The idea is to improve uptake of new developments and best practices in different countries. The report is one of the best examples of how we capture and share information with our global community. For the first time we have a framework for analysing diffusion of innovation and in 2015 we will present a follow-up study looking at key cases from different countries in great detail. This is completely new and innovative content you will not find anywhere else."

"What can we expect at WISH 2015?"

"Well, it's important to emphasize that WISH is much more than an annual Summit. It would be more accurate to view WISH 2015 as the visible culmination of initiatives which are already well underway, and which will continue long after that event.

"Our global community of leading multidisciplinary experts is working on seven new research Forums which, as before, are focused on the most urgent global healthcare challenges, such as Communicating complex health messages; Delivering affordable cancer care; Dementia; Diabetes; Patient safety; and Well-being in children and young people, as well as Universal Health Coverage. All seven Forums   are chaired by leading experts in their respective fields and will present evidence-based reports and recommendations to be discussed at WISH 2015. Crucially, we are also working to connect leaders with that research before the summit so as to put us in a good position for translating the work into action both before and after the conference.

"As well as the new Forums, 15 new Innovation Showcases will be displayed in dedicated, state-of-the-art pods around the Summit venue, offering delegates the chance to see them in action and hear from the innovators behind them.

"And key to building upon the success of the inaugural Summit is to inspire and support the next generation of healthcare thinkers, researchers, policy makers and academics, which is why we have created the Young Innovators initiative. This program will engage and highlight the work of innovators aged 18-30. WISH Young Innovators will have grown up exposed to new technologies, learning modalities, financing models  and expectations that are driving innovation today, and we want their voices to be heard at WISH 2015 through active participation and debate."

"Is there anything in particular that makes the World Innovation Summit for Health special? Do you think it stands out among other similar events?"

"Well, of course it's great that so many people want to prioritize healthcare at this critical period. However, WISH's approach is completely unique. Firstly, the clue is in our name - we are committed to the principle that innovation is the key to a healthier future for everyone. Secondly, we're not just an annual event in one place, like so many conferences and summits - we're a living community of influential healthcare leaders working for change all year round, and across the globe. Lastly, I would cite our commitment to evidence-based research. Our reports and recommendations are not theories - they are thoroughly practical and firmly grounded in the best of our knowledge in every field."

"What practical achievements have been made recently with the help of WISH?"

"WISH is already informing and inspiring meaningful change in healthcare across the world. Our Forum reports are widely cited in policymaking and academic circles, one example being a recent report by the Lucian Leape Institute in Boston that was co-authored by Susan Edgman-Levitan, WISH's Patient Engagement Forum Chair. The report is called 'Safety is Personal: Partnering with Patients and Families for the Safest Care' and it used the framework developed by the WISH Patient Engagement Forum while preparing its own report.

"Another recent example is a new publication by the UK's All Party Parliamentary Group on Global Health, which reproduced several important case studies from WISH's Patient and Family Engagement Forum report.

"WISH has started facilitating and maintaining some of the key dialog surrounding global healthcare reform. Recently, WISH officials partnered with Qatar's Supreme Council of Health and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to form part of the Qatar delegation that attended the World Health Assembly in Geneva earlier this year, where the delegation came out in strong support of the resolution on the   rising threat of Antimicrobial Resistance (AMR). The Intervention also made mention of the WISH AMR Report, 'Antimicrobial Resistance: In search of a collaborative solution'. We will continue that work in 2015."

"What do you think is the biggest threat that the world faces today in terms of health?"

"It's difficult to pinpoint all of the world's biggest health threats - but the issues that we have identified as a priority are reflected in the assignment of topics to our Forums, both in 2013 and upcoming 2015. However, all of these are underpinned by the wider problem of a lack of global collaboration. These problems affect populations throughout the world, so why do we persist in trying to address them through the framework of hundreds of isolated national and regional health systems? The need for a collaborative, global approach to finding and promoting solutions to these problems is increasingly urgent. And by working together as a global community, we can bridge the gap between what we know and what we actually do. Above all, WISH is a community of the impatient - impatient with the pace of change in health care and driven by the recognition that current systems are unsustainable. That is as true for developing nations as it is for the most mature health economies. We need to go from idea to action with the same speed as other industries in order to provide access to quality care that is also financially sustainable."

"Do you think that events such as WISH can change the world and make people's lives better?"

"Great leaps forward in quality and access to healthcare were the great success story of the 20th century, but we now face new challenges which individual regions and states cannot overcome on their own. That is why WISH is urgently trying to build a global framework for supporting and disseminating the best new healthcare innovations - shortening the time it takes for good ideas to leave the paper and begin making a real difference in people's hospitals and homes.

"The WISH approach is multidisciplinary - we think operations and administration can be just as important as policy or medical research. What is the use of innovation without effective delivery and the patient experience in mind? In short, WISH is all encompassing and just as much focused on the general public as it is on global leaders. Ultimately leadership is not solely a function of title or position - anyone can be a leader once they decide to take up a cause and fight for it. Our research is open to anyone and if just one person uses our content and the community we are building to make changes in their system, at any level, then we will have changed the world already. Together we can move mountains."

To stay up-to-date with WISH's activities, visit our website:, follow us on Twitter: WISH_Qatar, and connect with us on LinkedIn: World Innovation Summit for Health (WISH).


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Author`s name Dmitry Sudakov