Harmony Going Forward

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Harmony Going Forward

5 key things Implementation Science has taught us to focus on

Yesterday the Harmony team received the wonderful news that we are given the chance to continue working on Harmony for another six months, after which we can put ourselves forward for the final round. The Wellcome Mental Health Data Prize has chosen an unusual (for the research world) approach this time, using a “Dragon’s Den” style scheme where research teams can pitch their ideas to win funding for their projects. We started this journey with 10 other teams around six months ago, and last week we all presented our work and pitched our vision for the next 6 months. This nontypical funding scheme challenges some of the traditionally slow university structures, and I am excited about the creativity with which the Wellcome Trust keeps the research world on its toes.

As our team embarks on the prototyping journey, I am reflecting on how we can maximise the implementation success for our digital Harmony tool. I want Harmony to have a life post grant-funding and ensure that it has measurable impact on the wider researcher community and global mental health efforts.

The successful implementation and sustainability of digital products developed through research grant funding, has been shockingly low. We have seen this especially in the digital mental health field, where thousands of apps and platforms have been developed and only very few have been implemented and sustained in the wild. From this line of research and my own work with colleagues I know that innovation and effectiveness alone are not sufficient to secure real-world adoption .

 noah buscher

So how can we maximise the uptake and implementation of Harmony to give it a longer shelf-life? I’ll draw on the field of implementation science[i] which provides useful insights and frameworks on share some reflections on how this could be done and what we and our fellow teams may want to focus on at this stage.

1. Think about uptake and implementation early on

  • Researchers (me included) tend to think about implementation and sustainability too late. Don’t wait until your project is approaching the final stretch.
  • If that could be you, look up some of the great work published in the implementation science journal.
  • As a start think about: what does successful implementation mean for your team and what could it look like for your tool?

2. Identify and involve stakeholders when you design and develop your product/tool

  • Understand your users’ journey, motivation, context and create some fun user personas.
  • Get feedback from others early on, don’t wait until you have an almost finished product. I understand it can be scary putting something out there before it is ready, but it will be worth it.
  • Make sure your product is easy to use and doesn’t require much explanation. User-testing workshops can help you identify where your potential user may stop and doesn’t know what to do next with your product.
  • Ask your users whether your tool is actually “useful” to them and is matches their work flow or how they would like to use it.

3. Think of (existing) structures to integrate your product

  • Make sure you understand where your product sits in comparison to all the other products that are already out there. Does is fill a unique gap? Many products are not world-changing but integrating it within existing services and platforms to enhance their impact is worth thinking about. In terms of Harmony we are excited to have partnered with the Catalogue of Mental Health Measures.

4. Money

  • Who is going to pay for your product in the long run? I personally think most researchers lack sufficient training in this area and don’t know how to extent their money portfolio beyond typical grant funding schemes.

5. Reach and penetration

  • Equally important as money plans, is thinking about your “reach” strategy to ensures that you reach the right people and as many of them as possible
  • Think about who your users are and how you are going to reach them?
  • You may want to add this as a point of interested when developing or thinking of your user personas.

We wish all remaining Wellcome Mental Health Data Prize teams a great start into the next stage. We are beyond excited.

kelsey knight

[i] defined as the study of methods to promote the systematic uptake of research findings and evidence-based practices

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