Designing an implementation strategy to increase health-related social needs screening: Applying the PRISM framework in a resource-limited clinical setting

Oct 28, 2023 | Byhoff

Despite growing acceptability of health-related social needs (HRSN) screening and increasing policy incentives for adoption, clinical implementation of HRSN screening remains low. HRSN screening has been particularly difficult for Community Health Centers (CHCs), which have limited resources to implement and sustain new workflows. While CHCs provide care to patients with disproportionately high levels of unmet social needs, identifying HRSN screening implementation strategies that take CHC-specific contexts into account remains elusive. This study uses the Practical Robust Implementation and Sustainability Model (PRISM) to design an implementation strategy accounting for the unique context of CHCs. We used Rapid Ethnographic Assessment observations and stakeholder focus groups to identify current workflow barriers and facilitators to HRSN screening, and to develop implementation strategies that include multi-level contexts and perspectives. We identified eight themes contributing to low screening implementation: perceived stigma around screening; need for community-based solutions; re-confirming organizational priorities and values; Electronic Medical Record (EMR) limitations; multi-tasking pressures limiting implementation; staff turnover; limited knowledge of regulatory requirements; and community resource availability for referral. Based on the themes, we identified implementation strategies including non-EMR data collection; integration into the workflow for multiple staff members; creation of new training and educational modules; and identification of peer champions for retraining in real time. Administrative requirements are necessary but not sufficient for implementation of HRSN screening in CHCs. Resource-constrained settings benefit from context-specific stakeholder engagement to improve implementation success. The use of PRISM ensured contextual factors were central to the implementation strategy design.
Health care systems are encouraged to screen for health-related social needs (HRSN), such as housing and food insecurity, yet it has been difficult to implement these new screening workflows. This is especially true for Community Health Centers (CHCs) that have limited resources to implement new workflows. Using a framework that accounts for the unique environment of CHCs, we observed current workflows and conducted focus groups to develop an implementation strategy to facilitate HRSN screening. The new strategy used paper-based workflows to facilitate patient participation and identified clinical champions to engage staff. While these findings are useful in CHCs that might not have sufficient resources to develop screening processes in the Electronic Medical Record, they are also applicable to other low-resourced settings that might want to include HRSNs in patient care, but do not have resources or staff to do it.

PubMed Abstract

Byhoff, E., LeClair, A. M., Smith, C. N., Roy, T. K., & Drainoni, M. L. (2023). Designing an implementation strategy to increase health-related social needs screening: Applying the PRISM framework in a resource-limited clinical setting. Transl Behav Med. doi:10.1093/tbm/ibad067