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Advancing Implementation Science in Alberta (AISA): Part 1

Introduction

Two weeks ago, KT Alberta was proud to host its first event geared towards Advancing Implementation Science in Alberta.  The event covered two full days:

  • Day 1: The first day focused on initiating the discussion of what implementation science is, showcasing implementation work in Alberta. Presentations highlighted implementation methods, lessons learned, and opportunities for networking and engagement between researchers and the health system. Attendees also explored the potential of and support for creating an implementation science laboratory in Alberta.

  • Day 2: Building on the discussions from the first day, the second day focused on exploring the feasibility, scope and supports required to establish a partnership-based implementation lab here in Alberta.

Participants represented a significant subset of the health care system – ranging across a number of organizations representing academia, policy and health care practices from a variety of disciplines and governmental roles.

We were delighted to have Dr. David Johnson, Tracy Wasylak, Dr. Braden Manns, and Dr. Lee Green, as integral members guiding the planning and execution of this event.  All of these team members wear “two caps” as implementation scientists and leaders in the Alberta health care system. We were also fortunate to have the support of Dr. Jeremy Grimshaw, a Senior Scientist at the Ottawa Hospital Research Institute and a world class implementation scientist. Last but not least, we were supported by Dr. Lisa Hartling, and Denise Thomson from the Alberta SPOR Support Unit- Knowledge Translation Platform, who were integral to the establishment and support of the KT Alberta Community of Practice.

Today we wanted to provide our readers with a snap shot of the intense and productive discussions:

Knowledge Translation? Implementation Science? What is all of this, you might ask?

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Dr. Grimshaw, advises that we shouldn’t get hung up on technical definitions. Dr. David Johnson added that the most important thing is to remember  that “KT and IS, ultimately loops all of us who are both practitioners and researchers, towards getting to know each other better, and to explore how best to facilitate each other’s work.”

One major feature of this symposium included a showcase of some of the ground-breaking implementation work occurring right here in Alberta! These included the following projects such as:

  • Enhancing Recovery after Surgery (ERAS):  A project focused on utilizing evidence-based practices to address some of the systemic problems faced by surgery patients, encompassing their entire journey from post-surgery to transition back home.

  • ICU Delirium Initiative: A “Made in Alberta” framework utilizing a top-down approach to design and implement an integrated and context-specific Alberta ICU Guideline.

  • Patient’s Medical Home Model: This project provided a different perspective to implementation, based on the unique nature, function and regulation of primary care. It was closely aligned to the strategic objectives of the province and primary care network. It focused on strategies to create a sequence of change in a logical way that: 1) is aligned to business practice as an incentive; and 2) takes into consideration, the operational reality of primary care practitioners.

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Adding to the lessons learned, Dr. Grimshaw identified some key questions to think about when planning an implementation project:

  • “Implementation programs typically follow a four step process: Who needs to do what differently; What enablers and barriers exist and how to address those; Evaluation; And how to sustain practices.”

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Given the day’s presentations, what were some of the thoughts and questions driving the need for improving implementation in the Alberta health care system?

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Although there were varying viewpoints originating from participants from a diverse set of programs, there was a common understanding and agreement:

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Adding to the consensus, there was recognition that the next steps would not be easy but, definitely possible

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So how can an implementation laboratory be an asset in advancing implementation science in Alberta forward and what will it look like?

Dr. Grimshaw offered several points to think about:

  • “Implementation science research and health research in general has to move out of the academic environment and into the health care systems.”

  • “Living health care systems to encourage generating high value research that is relevant to the health care system. They need to incorporate rigor into their everyday work.”

  • “This type of approach will increase learning from project to project to provide opportunities to look at the formal and informal process and the dynamics between implementation teams researchers.”

  • This process also allows us to effectively and efficiently utilize implementation vehicles that are already out there to improve sustainability.”

  • “This isn’t just about doing trials but using mixed learning to examine and dissect what we do.”

What will it take from both researchers and the health care system?

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To conclude this post, we leave you with this teaser: What could an implementation science laboratory in Alberta look like?

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Our next post, “AISA Part 2”, will delve into examples of implementation laboratories in Canada and around the world, looking specifically at how they work.

Are you involved in  implementation science work? conneKT and share your story with us!

 Until next time!