Health Evaluation and Applied Research Development (HEARD) is a USAID-funded project that brings the implementation and technical capacity of a strategic set of an initial 33 global partners together to generate, synthesize, and use evidence to improve the implementation of policies and programs related to USAID priority areas, and crucial for improving health and development in low and middle-income countries. The project runs from 2016-2021.
The HEARD Partnership is part of a series of projects supporting USAID’s Health Research Program. To learn more about the whole portfolio, visit the Health Research Program website.
A major outcome of the HEARD Partnership is supporting the development of a global health Implementation Science Collaborative (ISC) to address three major challenges of implementation science:
- A lack of investment in systematic engagement of the relevant stakeholders in a meaningful and timely manner;
- A disconnect between the evidence that is generated and the evidence that is needed to inform program and policy development and implementation; and
- Limited capacity to package, communicate, and translate findings to inform policies and practice.
The HEARD Partnership is comprised of organizations that work to advance global health and development goals such as implementation support organizations, regional health governance bodies, policy advocacy groups, civil society based evidence advocates, research organizations and academic institutions. This strategic mix of partners will help to inform which research questions are prioritized in different contexts; to generate and analyze evidence; and to better package and move evidence through channels making it more accessible to inform policy and practice.
The four main strategies of the Project are:
1) Partnership and Agenda Development
By engaging the right mix of partners at the right time, we can determine the most relevant priorities and questions while minimizing the “stalling” of evidence in the research-to-use pathway
2) Data Liberation and Evidence Strengthening
What do we already know? What is already available? Is it of good quality? By increasing access to and public use of data, we liberate it. Data includes non-published documents (e.g., gray literature). Evidence strengthening refers to the vetting of data to make sure it’s high enough quality so we can make decisions. The generation of more relevant evidence results in a more inclusive agenda setting process.
3) Research and Evaluation Study Design and Implementation
If there is a gap in existing data, we support new research studies or evaluations (e.g., systematic review of literature that would inform a new implementation research study). It’s possible to do both data liberation and research and evaluation studies.
4) Acceleration of Evidence-to-Use Processes
The three strategies above (orange boxes) combined with appropriate stakeholder engagement will set us up for more potential to accelerate evidence use. Evidence-to-use acceleration is also facilitated by creating useful products (beyond publications), engaging useful platforms, and linking to communities of practice and others to package and share findings. Eventually this will inform new sets of better questions that feed back into the process, which will hopefully influence prevention of death and disability.
Emphasizing effective stakeholder engagement and knowledge management throughout will lead to more relevant questions, which leads to more effective and efficient evidence generation and liberation with less delay in evidence uptake.
Together we seek to respond the major implementation science challenges by:
- Actively engaging national, regional, and global-level stakeholders in the identification of research priorities, which includes engaging and supporting a growing community of interested implementers, policy-makers, and investigators in shaping and promoting a more relevant evidence-to-use agenda;
- Developing issue-specific implementation science collaborations that bring together a deliberate set of partners well-positioned to navigate an evidence-to-use pathway;
- Strengthening and connecting the institutional applied research capacities required to sustain a vigorous implementation science agenda in support of global health goals, emerging threats, and new opportunities; and
- Systematizing an approach to the above through the development of a global health Implementation Science Collaborative (ISC).