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Using Health Systems Engineering Approaches to Prepare for Tailoring of Implementation Interventions.

Barnes GD, Acosta J, Kurlander JE, Sales AE. Using Health Systems Engineering Approaches to Prepare for Tailoring of Implementation Interventions. Journal of general internal medicine. 2021 Jan 1; 36(1):178-185.

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BACKGROUND: Implementation of evidence-based practices often requires tailoring implementation strategies to local contextual factors, including available resources, expertise, and cultural norms. Using an exemplar case, we describe how health systems engineering methods can be used to understand system-level variation that must be accounted for prior to broad implementation. METHODS: Within the context of a single-center quality improvement activity, a multi-disciplinary stakeholder team used health systems engineering methods to describe how pre-endoscopy antithrombotic management was executed, and implemented a redesigned process to improve clinical care. The research team then conducted multiple stakeholder focus groups at four different health-care systems to describe and compare current processes for pre-endoscopy antithrombotic medication management. Detailed work flow maps for each health-care system were developed, analyzed, and integrated to develop an overarching current work flow map, identify key process steps, and describe areas of process variation. RESULTS: Five key process steps were identified across the four health systems: (1) place an endoscopy order, (2) screen for antithrombotic use, (3) coordinate medication management, (4) instruct the patient, and (5) confirm appropriate medication management before procedure. Across health systems, we found a high degree of variation in each step (e.g., who performed, use of technology, systematic vs. ad hoc process). This variation was influenced by two key system-level contextual factors: (1) degree of health system integration and (2) role and training level of available staff. These key steps, areas of variation, and contextual factors were integrated into an assessment tool designed to facilitate tailoring of a future implementation and dissemination strategy. CONCLUSIONS: Tools from health systems engineering can be used to identify key work flow process steps, variations in how those steps are executed, and influential contextual factors. This process and the associated assessment tool may facilitate broader implementation tailoring.

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