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Innovation Implementation in the Context of Hospital QI: Lessons Learned and Strategies for Success

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Pavani Rangachari1


In 1999, the Institute of Medicine reported that 98,000 people die each year due to medical errors. In the following years, the focus on hospital quality was intensified nationally, with policymakers providing evidence-based practice guidelines for improving health care quality. However, these innovations (evidence-based guidelines) that were being produced at policy levels were not translating to clinical practice at the hospital organizational level easily, and stark variations continued to persist, in the quality of health care. Circa 2009, nearly a decade after the release of the IOM report, the health care organizational literature began referring to this challenge as “innovation implementation failure” in health care organizations (HCOs), ie, failure to implement an evidence-based practice that is new to a HCO. This stream of literature drew upon management research to explain why innovation implementation failure occurs in HCOs and what could be done to prevent it.

This paper conducts an integrative review of the literature on “innovation implementation” in hospitals and health systems over the last decade, since the spotlight was cast on “innovation implementation failure” in HCOs. The review reveals that while some studies have retrospectively sought to identify the key drivers of innovation implementation, through surveys and interviews of practitioners (the “what”), other studies have prospectively sought to understand how innovation implementation occurs in hospitals and health systems (the “how”). Both make distinctive contributions to identifying strategies for success in innovation implementation. While retrospective studies have helped identify the key drivers of innovation implementation, prospective studies have shed light on how these drivers could be attained, thereby helping to develop context-sensitive management strategies for success. The literature has called for more prospective research on the implementation and sustainability of health care innovations. This paper summarizes the lessons learned from the literature, discusses the relevance of management research on innovation implementation in HCOs, and identifies future research avenues.

Resource: Innov Entrep Health. 2018; 5: 1–14.