International Health Policy and Practice Innovations

Across the globe, health care policymakers face mounting pressure to “bend the cost curve” while at the same time maintaining access to the latest in medical technologies, improving the quality and safety of care, and making the health system more responsive to patients’ needs and preferences.

How other countries address these challenges should be of particular interest to the United States, which spends far more on health care——per person and as a percentage of the nation’s economic output——than any other nation and yet receives less in return than most.

The Commonwealth Fund’s International Health Policy and Practice Innovations program is guided by the belief that despite differences in how countries organize and finance health care, the U.S. can learn a lot by examining other health systems, their performance in relation to ours, and their health care delivery and payment innovations——particularly those that we might consider adopting. The program is led by Vice President Robin Osborn.

To promote a robust international exchange of ideas, research, and experiences, the program’s activities focus on:

  • Building an international network of health policy experts and leaders for cross-national research projects and sharing lessons learned. 
  • Benchmarking U.S. health system performance against other high-income nations. 
  • Providing a forum for high-level policy discussion and presenting effective international approaches to policy and care delivery. 
  • Fostering transfer of effective innovations in health care delivery from other countries to the U.S. 

The international program’s annual surveys of patients and clinicians in 11 high-income countries delve into financial barriers to care, chronic disease management, and satisfaction with care, among other topics. The annual International Symposium on Health Care provides health ministers, senior government officials, and leading policy thinkers with a rare opportunity to hear and discuss a range of viewpoints in an unscripted setting, while Capitol Hill briefings inform congressional and executive branch staff about the latest health policy developments. And the Harkness Fellowships in Health Policy and Practice enable promising health care policy researchers and practitioners in 10 countries to spend up to a year in the U.S. conducting policy-oriented research under leading experts and gaining firsthand exposure to innovative models of health care delivery.

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