Background: Priority setting in health care is a challenge because demand for services exceeds available resources. The increasing demand for less invasive surgical procedures by patients, health care institutions and industry, places added pressure on surgeons to acquire the appropriate skills to adopt innovative procedures. Such innovations are often initiated and introduced by surgeons in the hospital setting. Decision-making processes for the adoption of surgical innovations in hospitals have not been well studied and a standard process for their introduction does not exist. The purpose of this study is to describe and evaluate the decision-making process for the adoption of a new technology for repair of abdominal aortic aneurysms (endovascular aneurysm repair [EVAR]) in an academic health sciences centre to better understand how decisions are made for the introduction of surgical innovations at the hospital level.
Methods: A qualitative case study of the decision to adopt EVAR was conducted using a modified thematic analysis of documents and semi-structured interviews. Accountability for Reasonableness was used as a conceptual framework for fairness in priority setting processes in health care organizations.
Results: There were two key decisions regarding EVAR: the decision to adopt the new technology in the hospital and the decision to stop hospital funding. The decision to adopt EVAR was based on perceived improved patient outcomes, safety, and the surgeons' desire to innovate. This decision involved very few stakeholders. The decision to stop funding of EVAR involved all key players and was based on criteria apparent to all those involved, including cost, evidence and hospital priorities. Limited internal communications were made prior to adopting the technology. There was no formal means to appeal the decisions made.
Conclusion: The analysis yielded recommendations for improving future decisions about the adoption of surgical innovations. ese empirical findings will be used with other case studies to help develop guidelines to help decision-makers adopt surgical innovations in Canadian hospitals.