Assessing the scalability of innovations in primary care: a cross-sectional study


Canadian health funding currently prioritizes scaling up for evidence-based primary care innovations, but not all teams prepare for scaling up. We explored scalability assessment among primary care innovators in the province of Quebec to evaluate their preparedness for scaling up.


We performed a cross-sectional survey from Feb. 18 to Mar. 18, 2019. Eligible participants were 33 innovation teams selected for the 2019 Quebec College of Family Physicians’ Symposium on Innovations. We conducted a Web-based survey in 2 sections: innovation characteristics and the Innovation Scalability Self-administered Questionnaire. The latter includes 16 criteria (scalability components) grouped into 5 dimensions: theory (1 criterion), impact (6 criteria), coverage (4 criteria), setting (3 criteria) and cost (2 criteria). We classified innovation types using the International Classification of Health Interventions. We performed a descriptive analysis using frequency counts and percentages.


Out of 33 teams, 24 participated (72.7%), with 1 innovation each. The types of innovation were management (15/24), prevention (8/24) and therapeutic (1/24). Most management innovations focused on patient navigation (9/15). In order of frequency, teams had assessed theory (79.2%) and impact (79.2%) criteria, followed by cost (77.1%), setting (59.7%) and coverage (54.2%). Most innovations (16/24) had assessed 10 criteria or more, including 10 management innovations, 5 prevention innovations and 1 therapeutic innovation. Implementation fidelity was the least assessed criterion (6/24).


The scalability assessments of a primary care innovation varied according to its type. Management innovations, which were the most prevalent and assessed the most scalability components, appear to be most prepared for primary care scale-up in Canada.