Healthcare reform typically involves orchestrating a policy change, mediated through some form of operational, systems, financial, process or practice intervention. The aim is to improve the ways in which care is delivered to patients. In our book 'Health Systems Improvement Across the Globe: Success Stories from 60 Countries', we gathered case-study accomplishments from 60 countries. A unique feature of the collection is the diversity of included countries, from the wealthiest and most politically stable such as Japan, Qatar and Canada, to some of the poorest, most densely populated or politically challenged, including Afghanistan, Guinea and Nigeria. Despite constraints faced by health reformers everywhere, every country was able to share a story of accomplishment-defining how their case example was managed, what services were affected and ultimately how patients, staff, or the system overall, benefited. The reform themes ranged from those relating to policy, care coverage and governance; to quality, standards, accreditation and regulation; to the organization of care; to safety, workforce and resources; to technology and IT; through to practical ways in which stakeholders forged collaborations and partnerships to achieve mutual aims. Common factors linked to success included the 'acorn-to-oak tree' principle (a small scale initiative can lead to system-wide reforms); the 'data-to-information-to-intelligence' principle (the role of IT and data are becoming more critical for delivering efficient and appropriate care, but must be converted into useful intelligence); the 'many-hands' principle (concerted action between stakeholders is key); and the 'patient-as-the-pre-eminent-player' principle (placing patients at the centre of reform designs is critical for success).