Why measurement is fundamental to Innovation programs
Innovation programs are first and foremost learning projects. Innovation programs are meant to test out a new practice or approach to see if it will lead to desired outcomes. Innovation program learning goals generally focus on outcomes and/or process.
Learning around outcomes looks at whether a new practice or approach will work, whether a new adaptation of an existing practice works (and more specifically, whether the adapted part makes a difference), or a new implementation of a practice from outside of mental health works. Measuring outcomes and tying those outcomes to whatever is new is essential for outcomes-focused learning goals.
Learning around process looks at how a new practice or strategy is implemented to see if the way it is implemented makes a difference. Some innovation programs are focused on new ways of doing things rather than on doing entirely new things. How something is implemented can have a significant impact on the outcomes of that implementation. For example, some counties might compare different ways of implementing a practice or approach for different target populations, like rural and urban. Other counties will want to monitor that a new practice or approach is being implemented consistently and correctly so they can make sure the outcomes they get are not being impacted by poor or inconsistent implementation. In all of these instances, measuring implementation process is essential for process-focused learning goals.
Without measurement, Innovation programs significantly lose their ability to contribute to learning. Innovation programs without good measurement strategies run the risk of being business-as-usual implementation projects where little is learned from implementation.
The California Institute for Mental Health (CiMH) has developed a two-part online learning tutorial to guide teams developing measurement strategies for MHSA Innovation projects.
These tutorials are an excellent resource! Check them out by clicking on the links below:
CiMH has also conducted two-part webinar on the measurement strategies outlined in the tutorials. To access a recording of these webinar’s, please click the links below: