Health Innovation & Policy

Class Unique: 28699
This course will review the policies which influence technology development and use in the health care sector. It will discuss the set of policies which are used to promote health innovation, as well as the policies and the institutional context which influence technology development, uptake and diffusion in health care systems. The course will be structured around a series of case studies of technologies that have (or have failed) to be introduced into health care and which illustrate the importance of different factors. Particular focus will be placed on identifying the ways in which governments influence technology development and use, including through : research funding; end product purchasing, guaranteed markets and other subsidies; worker and environmental safety regulations; the regulatory process for assessing human safety and efficacy; intellectual property rights policy; privacy and confidentiality concerns; moderation of bioethical concerns; using/promoting comparative effectiveness and cost considerations. However, the development and use of health technologies obviously takes place in a larger institutional context where industry structure, end-markets and consumer preferences are all very important in understanding technology development and use, these will be discussed throughout. A particular emphasis will be given to the question of the fora in which debates play themselves out (eg at what jurisdictional level -- local, national, internationally) and with what outcomes. The first four sessions of the class will cover the policy and institutional frameworks in which health innovation happens. The eight case based classes would be structured such that there would be an introduction to the case study technology (what is it, what is/was its promise in terms of improved health care, what stage of development); followed by a discussion of the policy debates around the technology's development and use in various countries; the various interest groups involved and how they influenced debates; what sort of information decision makers might need before taking any decisions (or to monitor effects after); and what options and tools policymakers had at their disposal to address these concerns. Wherever possible, differences across countries in approaches and outcomes will be highlighted. Students will be asked to choose a case to research and will present to the class information about the technology and the policy debates surrounding its development and uptake. In addition a number of guest speakers will be asked to present their experiences with technology development and commercialization and the policies that have impacted their work/company/sector. Objectives:
  • To develop an understanding of the technology development process in the health care sector.
  • To develop an understanding of how governments influence technology development and diffusion.
  • To review the range of policies and interests groups important in driving and impeding technology development.
  • To improve skills for writing a good policy brief.
The class will not cover in any depth science and research funding policies, technology transfer policies, or regional development/ technology cluster policies. Audience: Students interested in technology policy and technology commercialisation; in the health care sector. Requirements: Students will be graded on whether they demonstrate that they regularly do background readings and on their level of participation in discussions in the classes (20%); their presentation of the policy debates around their case (20%); their briefing note (20%); and a final written exam (40%). Each student will prepare a case and make a presentation to the class; s/he will also prepare a short (2-5 page) policy brief for a policymaker (function & country to be determined with the instructor), summarizing the debates, and suggesting actions s/he should take, and supporting reasons as to why this is the best course of action. Possible cases:
  1. rDNA -- lab and environmental safety
  2. Genetic testing and diagnostics -- gene patenting, DTC sales, whole genome analysis
  3. Human fertilization and embryology -- safety, regulation of procedures, bioethics, new industry
  4. Gene therapy -- somatic vs. germline cell therapy -- safety, ethics, high profile failures
  5. Pharmacogenomics -- smaller targeted clinical trials and personalized medicine
  6. Stem cells and embryonic cloning -- ethics, safety, funding, moratoria, local politics
  7. Regenerative medicine -- blurring lines between procedures/devices/medicines, safety
  8. Bio-nano devices -- policy in the absence of data, how interest groups set agendas
  9. Cord-blood banking -- efficacy debate, ethics
  10. Telemedicine -- equity
  11. Imaging technologies -- MRI, devices, costs
  12. Vaccines -- safety, public opinion, evidence use
  13. The war on cancer-the war on AIDS, the history of R&D push policies in health
  14. Development of new anti-infectives
  15. Health and biomedical databases -- privacy and security, data-mining and meta-anlysis, interoperability, access and use
  16. Online patient information and patient groups
  17. IT and Electronic Health Records -- uptake in clinical care, interoperability privacy and confidentiality
  18. Prosthetic devices

Class Details

Meeting Days Time Location
Thursday 9:00 am - 12:00 pm SRH 3.221

Examination information not available

Additional Information

Course Type


Callan, Benedicte Callan, Benedicte