Shift Health: Bringing a science mindset to strategy consulting for the health research and innovation ecosystem

Shift Health brings a science mindset to strategy consulting for the health research and innovation ecosystem. Every member our accomplished team has an advanced life sciences degree—80% PhD-level—and collectively we bring a century of consulting experience distinguished by incisive curiosity, rigorous methodologies, evidence-based insight and a collaborative spirit.

As we confront the greatest calamity of our generation, our science mindset has never been more relevant and essential. The past eight months have tested our team and our clients in unprecedented ways, and we have been privileged to play a part in accelerating our collective response to COVID-19, preparing for the next, inevitable biological threat, and helping our health research and innovation ecosystem build on the lessons this crisis has taught us.

We are leading conversations about what COVID-19 means for the future of the health research and innovation ecosystem. COVID-19 has compressed into weeks structural and system-level adaptations that might otherwise have evolved over years. In our report, we identify five phenomena that augur permanent shifts in how we conduct research, advance innovation and deliver health impact:

  1. The long-awaited end of the beginning of health digitalization is setting the stage for a futureproofed data ecosystem.
  2. Emerging regulations and practices are optimizing the triad of safety, quality and speed.
  3. The rapid propagation of nimble models of collaboration is creating possibilities and expectations to sustain the urgent pace of innovation.
  4. Growth in the public’s attention to science is driving us toward a more accountable, community-engaged research and innovation ecosystem.
  5. Our awakening to the global interconnectedness of social, ecological, economic and innovation systems is transforming our understanding of global and sovereign health security.

COVID-19 has proven that innovation systems have the potential to perform with greater agility, alacrity and ambition, inviting a re-imagination of the rules, conventions and practices that will guide us into the future.

We are helping to bring focus and new thinking to the vulnerabilities COVID-19 has exposed. Better access to high-quality health data earlier in the outbreak could have altered its trajectory and prevented human and economic tragedy. Looking forward, we discuss how the stewardship of personal health data can guide science toward better, more equitable care during the pandemic and into the future. We also explore how community hospitals are critical to our scientific and healthcare readiness, undertaking clinical investigations that accelerate the testing and adoption of solutions, like those for COVID-19, and increase the cost-effectiveness and quality of care. Finally, we address how COVID-19 has reinforced and amplified systemic barriers and injustices that are deeply embedded within our healthcare, research and innovation systems—and shed light on how organizations can create environments to uplift human potential, support innovation and optimize performance.

We are inspired by the work of our clients, who are a testament to the power of human ingenuity during COVID-19. Working with provincial stakeholders, we are helping to create a new paradigm for Ontario’s long-term care system to ensure that aging populations thrive through high-quality, person-centred care. Our work with multinational pharmaceutical companies has generated critical strategic insights to advance the development and deployment of COVID-19 vaccines and therapeutics that will hasten our post-pandemic future. And to ensure this never happens again, we are helping to build a courageous interdisciplinary and cross-sector nexus focused on accelerating solutions to prevent, prepare for and protect against pandemics.

There has never been greater recognition that “science is the solution”, and there has never been a more fertile—and important—moment to reinvigorate investment in and approaches to health research and innovation. Shaping the ‘new normal’ will required courage, creativity and collaboration, guided by a science mindset.


Shift Health is a Sponsor of the Parliamentary Health Research Caucus Virtual Reception, A RACE AGAINST THE CLOCK: Canadian Mental Health Researchers Stand Up to COVID-19. Learn more at