This study explores the evaluation of research pathways of self-management health innovations from discovery to implementation in the context of practice-based research. The aim is to understand how a new process model for evaluating practice-based research provides insights into the implementation success of innovations. Data were collected from nine research projects in the Netherlands. Through document analysis and semi-structured interviews, we analysed how the projects start, evolve, and contribute to the healthcare practice. Building on previous research evaluation approaches to monitor knowledge utilization, we developed a Research Pathway Model. The model’s process character enables us to include and evaluate the incremental work required throughout the lifespan of an innovation project and it helps to foreground that innovation continues during implementation in real-life settings. We found that in each research project, pathways are followed that include activities to explore a new solution, deliver a prototype and contribute to theory. Only three projects explored the solution in real life and included activities to create the necessary changes for the solutions to be adopted. These three projects were associated with successful implementation. The exploration of the solution in a real-life environment in which users test a prototype in their own context seems to be a necessary research activity for the successful implementation of self-management health innovations.