Evaluation is the systematic collection and analysis of information about the development, activities, characteristics, future planning and/or outcomes of an initiative (AHS, 2015).
Evaluation has become an integral part of program planning and research interventions when new initiatives/practices are started or need to be changed. Evaluation helps uncover valuable challenges and successes so that we can learn from the past and future planning can be evidence-informed.
Understanding outcomes and demonstrating impact of investment is vital to ensure that precious healthcare resources are used to their full potential. Evaluation plays a strategic role in generating evidence to determine value and support sound decision-making. Evaluation can also support innovations in their developmental phase through monitoring, testing and making recommendations for improvement and the appropriateness of further application to new environments.
There are four primary reasons for doing evaluations:
Reference: Measuring research, A guide to research evaluation frameworks and tools (Guthrie et al. 2013)
There are many available resources that can help you learn about evaluation and research. Some include:
Ideally, planning should occur at the beginning of a new initiative. There is good reason for planning early. First, planning early ensures that there is adequate time to be thoughtful about what to measure and that planning is inclusive of all stakeholders. For example, determining how to assess and capture impact and outcomes takes time. Second, data collection must be conducted in a manner that ensures good quality and valid and reliable evaluation results. Third, early planning will support efficient and successful evaluation process by balancing available resources against expectations.
Research and evaluation professionals within the System Innovations and Programs portfolio are available to AHS operations and other healthcare organizations outside of AHS to help you design and implement an evaluation. View Health System Evaluation & Evidence for more information.