Systems transformation: learning from change in 60 countries

Jeffrey Braithwaite*, Kristiana Ludlow, Kate Churruca, Wendy James, Jessica Herkes, Elise McPherson, Louise A. Ellis, Janet C. Long

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)


Purpose: Much work about health reform and systems improvement in healthcare looks at shortcomings and universal problems facing health systems, but rarely are accomplishments dissected and analyzed internationally. The purpose of this paper is to address this knowledge gap by examining the lessons learned from health system reform and improvement efforts in 60 countries. Design/methodology/approach: In total, 60 low-, middle- and high-income countries provided a case study of successful health reform, which was gathered into a compendium as a recently published book. Here, the extensive source material was re-examined through inductive content analysis to derive broad themes of systems change internationally. Findings: Nine themes were identified: improving policy, coverage and governance; enhancing the quality of care; keeping patients safe; regulating standards and accreditation; organizing care at the macro-level; organizing care at the meso- and micro-level; developing workforces and resources; harnessing technology and IT; and making collaboratives and partnerships work. Practical implications: These themes provide a model of what constitutes successful systems change across a wide sample of health systems, offering a store of knowledge about how reformers and improvement initiators achieve their goals. Originality/value: Few comparative international studies of health systems include a sufficiently wide selection of low-, middle- and high-income countries in their analysis. This paper provides a more balanced approach to consider where achievements are being made across healthcare, and what we can do to replicate and spread successful examples of systems change internationally.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)237-253
Number of pages17
JournalJournal of Health, Organisation and Management
Issue number3
Early online date21 Aug 2019
Publication statusPublished - 28 Apr 2020


  • Case studies
  • Change management
  • Health policy
  • Healthcare reform
  • International comparison
  • Large-scale change


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