What is Public Health Innovation?

Public health innovation refers to the creation and implementation of a novel process, policy, product, program, or system leading to improvements that impact health and equity. Tenets of public health innovation include the following:

  • It is an ongoing, systematic process that can generate incremental or radical change.
  • It requires both collaboration with diverse team members and partners and co-production with people with lived experience who will be affected by the results of the innovation.
  • It is an open process lending itself to adaptation or replication.

 To view the background of our draft definition of public health innovation, download Innovation in Governmental Public Health: Building a Roadmap.

Innovation Stories

As the world changes, public health must adapt to address emerging community needs, often requiring appropriate infrastructure to be in place, real time surveillance and the ability to respond, and the inclusion of new or existing cross-sector partnerships. There are many barriers to public health innovation, including budget cuts, outdated technology, and siloed workflows and data. However, there are also bright spots of utilizing innovation processes in health departments across the country.

For inspiration and motivation to develop innovative solutions in your own health department:

Case Studies

The PHAB Center for Innovation’s Innovation Grant Program grantees spent eighteen months implementing innovations in their communities. From this Learning Community, we were able to learn more about what makes an innovation work and be replicable, including leadership buy-in, cross-sector partnerships, and community engagement. In addition to learning about innovation broadly from these grantees, we also highlighted each grantee’s individual work, including success, challenges, and lessons learned for others who may be interested in replicating their work.

The case studies below, produced by NORC at the University of Chicago, are great resources for any agency looking to bring public health innovation to serve the needs of its community.

Public Health Innovation Playbook

Is your organization ready to begin your innovation journey and looking for practical guidance on how to begin? Start with the Public Health Innovation Playbook which will be available soon!