Implementation and sustainment of diverse practices in a large integrated health system: a mixed methods study
BACKGROUND: One goal of health systems seeking to evolve into learning health systems is to accelerate the implementation and sustainment of evidence-based practices (EBPs). As part of this evolution, the Veterans Health Administration (VHA) developed the Innovation Ecosystem, which includes the Diffusion of Excellence (DoE), a program that identifies and diffuses Gold Status Practices (GSPs) across facilities. The DoE hosts an annual “Shark Tank” competition in which leaders bid on the opportunity to implement a GSP with 6 months of implementation support. Over 750 diverse practices were submitted in cohorts 2 and 3 of Shark Tank; 23 were designated GSPs and were implemented in 31 VA networks or facilities. As part of a national evaluation of the DoE, we identified factors contributing to GSP implementation and sustainment.
METHODS: Our sequential mixed methods evaluation of cohorts 2 and 3 of Shark Tank included semi-structured interviews with at least one representative from 30/31 implementing teams (N = 78/105 people invited) and survey responses from 29/31 teams (N = 39/47 invited). Interviews focused on factors influencing implementation and future sustainment. Surveys focused on sustainment 1.5-2 years after implementation. The Consolidated Framework for Implementation Research (CFIR) informed data collection and directed content analysis. Ordinal scales were developed inductively to rank implementation and sustainment outcomes.
RESULTS: Over 50% of teams (17/30) successfully implemented their GSP within the 6-month implementation period. Despite extensive implementation support, significant barriers related to centralized decision-making, staffing, and resources led to partial (n = 6) or no (n = 7) implementation for the remaining teams. While 12/17 initially successful implementation teams reported sustained use of their GSP, over half of the initially unsuccessful teams (n = 7/13) also reported sustained GSP use 1.5 years after the initial implementation period. When asked at 6 months, 18/27 teams with complete data accurately anticipated their future sustainability based on reported sustainment an average of 1.5 years later.
CONCLUSIONS: Most teams implemented within 6 months and/or sustained their GSP 1.5 years later. High levels of implementation and sustainment across diverse practices and teams suggest that VHA’s DoE is a successful large-scale model of diffusion. Team predictions about sustainability after the first 6 months of implementation provide a promising early assessment and point of intervention to increase sustainability.
Nevedal, A. L., Reardon, C. M., Jackson, G. L., Cutrona, S. L., White, B., Gifford, A. L., . . . Damschroder, L. (2020). Implementation and sustainment of diverse practices in a large integrated health system: a mixed methods study. Implement Sci Commun, 1, 61. doi:10.1186/s43058-020-00053-1