Mapping the health innovation ecosystem to track progress and accessibility

  • 21 Feb 2017

New innovations in health are appearing every day. What was an industry dominated by large companies producing drugs and devices is now diversifying with products and outputs including wearables, guidelines, apps, AI, cloud services, and more. Clinician inventors are on the increase - practitioners on the ground producing innovations that, if they were accessible, could be saving lives across the globe.

To this end, the Health Horizon project aims to perform a complete re-mapping of the health innovation ecosystem. From ad-hoc communication and relying on hearing random news, to a persistent, online listing of every health innovation in the world, on the understanding that investors, practitioners and the public have an important role to play in supporting innovations and ensuring right ones enter our lives.

The process uncovered three main challenges: how to find information on health innovations; how to then structure it in a meaningful, accessible way; and how to then categorise the innovations.

1) Finding innovations: News stories provide useful data points, there are scores of popular health based stories every day that represent an important milestone in an innovations life. Some databases of innovations already exist and many owners are willing to share them. Sources like FDA approvals and trials registries are public data sources that provide useful information.

2) Structuring innovations: Existing sources of information are either a milestone (a news story or some regulatory approval) or promotional activities. The public are interested in the innovations themselves, and Health Horizon note that Internet industry trends point to a need for innovations to have permanent online profiles as they develop.

3) Categorising innovations: Health Horizon developed an intuitive taxonomy that, for each innovation, answers the question "what is it?", "what does it do?", "what stage is it at?". The taxonomy is connected to the Unified Medical Language System (UMLS) thesaurus to connect professional and everyday terms, making the taxonomy accessible to all.

Health Horizon are partnering with multiple networks of health groups around the world, with many of these finding themselves under pressure to drive innovation in their networks. Their service also acts an "innovation extractor" for these networks, who can simply share a link to their members to submit to, and the networks can then find and track the innovations.

Through use of a new definition of innovation developed by Health Horizon, they believe that there are approximately 40,000 health innovations available across the globe. An innovation is something that: 1) is an improvement on the status quo and 2) that the responsible agent is actively pushing to share its benefits. Health Horizon have curated over 1,000 searchable innovations, with 200,000 data points that, when curated, will describe the stories of each health innovation as they progress.

Health Horizon envision an online listing of every health innovation in the world, with up-to-date information on entry or completion of trials, regulatory approvals, and educational or promotional activities, and other relevant milestones, as well as information on public interest and capabilities for crowdsourcing.

Investors will use the platform to gain global insight into the progress of innovations around the world. Practitioners can find and track the progress of the technologies and techniques that can improve their practice. And consumers can find and follow the innovations that they may usually hear about through the regular news cycle.

Mathew McGann, Co-Founder of Health Horizon, said "We believe that everyone, investors, practitioners and the public, have an important role to play in supporting innovations to make the right ones enter our lives."

For more information, visit or contact Mathew McGann, Health Horizon Co-Founder -