Being an innovator is never easy. But tackling the needs of underserved patients and of health care providers in developing countries can be especially difficult. The idiosyncrasies of the health care sector, the contextual barriers found in resource-constrained environments, and the already-difficult-to-implement innovation process make entrepreneurship in global health time-consuming, expensive, and risky.
Complicating matters further, there’s a scarcity of useful resources specific to the complex field of global health. Most of the available information is in the form of human-interest stories that focus on the good intentions or ingenuity of the innovators, with little data provided about the mechanics of how ideas are implemented and almost no mention of failure.
To help address this gap in knowledge, researchers at Stanford spent approximately 18 months talking to students, faculty members, practitioners, funders, and others about their approach to global health innovation and, in particular, the challenges they have faced. This research was led by Stanford GSB as part of the Stanford Global Health Consortium: Innovation, Design, Evaluation, and Action (CIDEA). The project was funded by the National Institutes of Health grant 1 RC4 TW008781-01. We then captured those stories in a collection of mini-case studies that we call the Global Health Innovation Insight Series.
These cases, organized into six interrelated categories, are presented below in the hope that the lessons and discoveries documented in each one will help other global health innovators successfully design and commercialize products and services to improve the health of the world’s poor.