At the Innovating Health discussion on Knowledge Translation, discussion guide Dr Tamika Heiden focused on a common understanding of knowledge translation. This included not just technical research and innovation, but also sociotechnical knowledge and change. We know from the National Academy of Medicine2 in the USA, there is on average a 17-year gap between the publication of research outcomes to those findings being put into practice. Following are some of the discussion points. You are invited to download the full report.

When is research just research for research’s sake? One could argue that the practical uptake of knowledge in healthcare would be greatly enhanced if research continued to be more targeted to areas where health practitioners see real need in the delivery of care.

Currently, we have the ‘push’ system where we undertake research and then we seek to disseminate it and get clinicians to use it. Health systems and practitioners want a ‘pull’ system – where they have questions they want answered and they want to partner with researchers and arrive at meaningful, personalised patient outcomes. There is a misalignment between research push and clinician pull so research is not answering some of the questions we need answered at the ‘pointy end’ of healthcare. Researchers are conscious that there is a level of inefficiency and waste of research funds. It is acknowledged by researchers that we are spending billions of dollars on research, where it is known that it would have no impact on improved health outcomes whatsoever.

Research impact comes when research and the subsequent knowledge generated, influences positive change and becomes available in the market and transforms day to day practice. Better processes to support the framing of research to enhance impact would be welcomed. There are opportunities for digital tools and the more meaningful use of data, to better assist in our decision making and posing targeted research questions (not re-investigating what we already know) and building a more intimately networked knowledge platform as a foundation for future work.

Importantly, we need to do more with what we have.

“We have some real questions we need answered at the pointy end of healthcare”

~ Roundtable participant Dr Paresh Dawda.