Method and Written Report Guidelines

Analytical Essay on Innovations in Health Care

The intent of this category is to provide a directed, comprehensive evidence-based discussion of innovations in medicine. These may include new devices, diagnostic tools, decision rules or therapies. Novel uses of older treatments may also be applicable.1

The Canadian Medical Association Journal (CMAJ) provides a guide for authors in developing an publication in this category, and these recommendations are presented and expanded in Box 5 to provide structure for how an innovation-focused project can be produced as a scholarly work.

An innovations scholar project must encompass a comprehensive, directed evidence review. There should be both a presentation of evidence, as well as critical appraisal of that evidence. This include a discussion of the types of studies that provide evidence, the quality of the studies, their results, whether the results support or contradict each other, the types of populations the studies are conducted among and considerations for generalizability, etc.

Box 6: Recommended structure of an innovation-focused scholar project

  1. Description of the innovation
    • What is it?
    • How is it delivered?
    • Who is eligible? (include who is likely to benefit from the innovation)Note that visual or auditory resources (e.g. photos, sound clips, videos or other images) may be helpful to present the new technology, especially if it is something new. If a patient photograph is used, consent must be obtained from the patient or his/her representative.
  2. Research question
  3. Background/Context
    • Why should we know about this innovation?
    • Why was it developed?
    • What is the background?
    • Is the innovation needed?
    • Indications?
  4. What are the possible harms?
    • Are there any contraindications?
  5. What is the evidence so far?
    • Comprehensive review of the evidence
    • Critical appraisal
    • Is more evidence needed before general adoption?
  6. What can we expect in the future?
    • Should this innovation be widely adopted?
    • Predict how likely this innovation is to be adopted. Outline what might prevent or help the innovation in being established in mainstream practice (e.g. money, availability, adverse effects, results of planned/in progress studies, etc.)
    • What research is currently underway?
  7. Summary/Conclusion

Directly addressing what information was learned to answer original research question.


Examples of innovation publications are presented below (note that the Innovation-focused articles in this journal are intended to be brief, therefore the depth of literature review may not be as comprehensive as would be required for a scholar project):

Lee SK, O’Brien K. Innovations: Parents as primary caregivers in the neonatal intensive care unit. CMAJ 2014; 186: 845-847.

Aziz AAA, Isaac M, Tehrani NN. Innovations: Using telemedicine to screen for retinopathy of prematurity. CMAJ 2014; 186: 1012-1014.