Developing AHRQ’s Feasibility Assessment Criteria for Wide-Scale Implementation of Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Findings
BACKGROUND: The Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality’s (AHRQ) Patient-Centered Outcomes Research (PCOR) Dissemination and Implementation (D&I) Initiative identifies and prioritizes PCOR findings that could improve health care if widely implemented. To inform PCOR implementation investments, AHRQ sought to assess feasibility of widely implementing impactful PCOR findings with good strength of evidence in clinical practice. OBJECTIVE: To develop criteria to assess the feasibility of widely implementing nominated PCOR findings.
METHODS: We reviewed literature and interviewed thirteen D&I experts to identify factors affecting feasibility of implementing PCOR findings. We grouped similar factors into themes. Fourteen technical expert panel (TEP) members discussed the face-validity and relative merits of the themes and additional factors, applied themes to fictional case studies, and prioritized themes for assessing feasibility. We developed criteria and guiding questions with a 3-point Likert scale. Seven D&I experts pilot-tested the criteria using sample nominations of PCOR findings. Experts represented diverse views of implementation from federal and state government agencies, research institutions, and quality improvement and advocacy organizations.
KEY RESULTS: We developed a set of three essential criteria for AHRQ to assess feasibility of widely implementing PCOR findings to be widely implementable: (1) acceptability to the implementers; (2) generalizability, adaptability, and ease of implementing with fidelity; and (3) alignment with external policies and incentives. Two supplemental criteria, (1) the presence of a plan or toolkit supporting implementation, or (2) evidence supporting implementation outside the research setting, can enhance reviewers’ confidence in the intervention’s feasibility. Each criterion includes “guiding questions” to parse out specific components that could be more readily assessed.
CONCLUSIONS: The criteria and guiding questions are a valuable tool for informing AHRQ’s investment decisions regarding implementing PCOR findings. Although developed for AHRQ’s needs, the criteria may help other funders and health care organizations determine the feasibility of implementing evidence-based practices.