Handbook of Innovation in Public Services
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Handbook of Innovation in Public Services

Edited by Stephen P. Osborne and Louise Brown

Leading researchers from across the globe review the state of the art in research on innovation in public services, providing an overview of key issues from a multi-disciplinary perspective. Topics explored include: context for innovation in public services and public service reform; managerial change challenges; ICT and e-government; and collaboration and networks. The theory is underpinned by seven wide-ranging case studies of innovation in practice.
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Chapter 31: Evidence-based innovation in practice: experiences from health care and implications for the future

Gill Harvey


Evidence-based policy and practice is a concept that has become the focus of growing attention and interest in public sector organisations. Since the initial emergence of the evidence-based medicine movement in the 1990s (Sackett et al. 1996), the basic idea that decisions should be more systematically based on sound evidence of effectiveness has spread to other disciplines in health care, other areas of the public sector and to other levels of decision-making, such as management and policy-making. There are close parallels between the literature on evidence-based health care and that on the diffusion of innovations, perhaps not surprising given the rapid advances in technological innovation in health care and the fact that many ‘evidence based’ initiatives result from technological developments in the field. Consequently, there is a large and growing body of literature, exploring the nature and process of technological innovation in health care (see, for example, Robert et al. 2010). This often links to the literature on evidence-based decision-making, and a number of authors (e.g. Fitzgerald et al. 2002; Ferlie et al. 2005) explicitly discuss and analyse the two concepts of health care innovation and evidence-based practice alongside each other. One feature of both bodies of literature is that the nature of the innovation itself and the presence of strong research evidence are rarely sufficient to guarantee its uptake in practice.

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