Diffusion of Innovation Across a National Local Health Department Network

A Simulation Approach to Policy Development Using Agent-Based Modeling


Professional communication networks are conduits for the spread of best practices and innovation.

The Issue:
The network that local health officials use to communicate about professional issues is sparsely connected, which may limit the spread of innovative practices. The authors used agent-based simulation modeling to find out if a policy to promote more connections improved the network’s capability to diffuse innovation.

Key Findings

  • The researchers found that unanticipated effects could result, depending on the requirements of the policy and the proportion of health officials involved.

With carefully crafted assumptions and reliable data it is possible to untangle complex processes using simulation modeling. The results represent how the world might actually work which may provide useful decision support for policy-makers with further research.

—An excerpt from Frontiers in Public Health Services and Systems Research