Health Innovation & Policy

Class Unique: 29251
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 technology development, as well as the policies (and other factors) 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 policies including: the role of research funding and financing sources; worker and environmental safety regulations; the regulatory process for assessing human safety and efficacy; privacy and confidentiality concerns; intellectual property rights policy; bioethical concerns and government or voluntary restrictions; comparative effectiveness and cost concerns; consumer demand pressures.

A typical class would have an introduction to the technology in the case to be discussed (what is it, what is/was its promise in terms of improved health care, what stage of development); it would discuss the policy debates around its development and use in various countries; it would discuss the involvement of various interest groups and how/where they influence debates; it would discuss what sort of information decision makers might need before taking any decision (or to monitor effects after); it would try to identify options and tools policymakers have at their disposal to address these concerns.

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. The class will not cover in any depth science and research funding policies, technology transfer policies, or regional development/ technology cluster policies.

Students interested in technology policy and technology commercialisation; in the health care sector.

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 3.355

Examination information not available

Additional Information

Course Type


Callan, Benedicte Callan, Benedicte