Reciprocal innovation builds on the concept of ‘reverse innovation’, a process of bringing healthcare innovations and technologies designed and tested in under-resourced countries around the world back to developed countries such as the United States to address important health challenges. These ‘reverse innovations’ are attractive because they are often seen as more cost-effective; easier to replicate, scale, and sustain; require minimal infrastructure; and can be tailored to local needs. However, reverse innovation implies a unidirectional process that does not continue to engage global health stakeholders in refining and implementing these approaches.
Reciprocal innovation evolves the concept of reverse innovation in order to create a bi-directional and iterative exchange of a technology, methodology, or process between at least two countries, one lower- or middle-income country and one high-income country, to address a common health challenge. This bi-directional exchange allows us to address a common problem between countries by the same innovation and provide mutual benefit to both sides. Lessons learned are continually shared throughout the process to suit the needs and infrastructure of each country.