The United States spends more on health care than any other country, but Americans continue to experience worse health outcomes than their international peers. As such, there are critical lessons to be learned from countries that succeed in ensuring equitable access to affordable, high-quality care.

The Commonwealth Fund’s International Health Policy and Practice Innovations program seeks to improve people’s lives by serving as a trusted source for international insights that spur change to the U.S. health care system. We inspire U.S. health care leaders to act by generating research and analysis on international policies and practices that address common health care problems and promote a high-performing healthcare system.

To support the transfer of best practices from around the world to the U.S., the International Health Policy and Practice Innovations program 1) maintains expertise on international coverage approaches and the financing structures required to support them; 2) sources innovative care delivery models that other countries have deployed to address areas of interest in the U.S., including health technology, maternal health, mental health, primary care, and social determinants of health; 3) learns from other countries’ approaches to advancing health equity; and 4) draws lessons from international approaches to achieving sustainable financing, with a focus on drug pricing.

Key program activities include:

  • Surveying the public, patients, and physicians in 11 countries to compare health system performance annually (International Health Policy Survey)
  • Benchmarking U.S. performance compared to 11 countries on indicators in five domains: Care Process, Access, Administrative Efficiency, Equity, and Health Care Outcomes (Mirror, Mirror)
  • Commissioning research on health care in other countries that can inform U.S. efforts to improve access, quality, and efficiency, including universal coverage
  • Identifying and disseminating information about health care delivery system innovations abroad that might also work in the U.S. and working with U.S. delivery systems to translate the most promising models
  • Sponsoring the Harkness Fellowships in Health Care Policy and Practice, which enable promising international health care leaders to spend 12 months in the U.S. conducting policy-oriented research
  • Convening international policymakers and experts for cross-national dialogue and exchange around contemporary policy and care delivery issues faced by governments and health systems

Program Contact:

Reginald D. Williams II, Vice President