Introduction: Technology-based innovation requires long-term changes to workforce routines, otherwise practices will not be sustained. The aim of this study was to identify influential factors in the ongoing use of an acute stroke telemedicine programme.
Methods: A new acute stroke telemedicine programme in a regional hospital receiving 375 patients with stroke or transient ischaemic attack per year was used as an exploratory case study. Semi-structured interviews with acute care and emergency department clinicians (n = 25) were conducted at two time-points: after a six-month pilot and then after a further 12-month implementation phase. Interviews (between 12-60 min) were recorded, transcribed and analysed inductively using descriptive thematic analysis. Reported barriers and facilitators were compared with those previously reported pre-implementation (deductive analysis) to identify changes over time. Using an implementation framework and a behaviour change taxonomy, strategies were developed to address influential factors on sustainability.
Results: New facilitators were identified including hospital system changes, benefits to clinicians and telemedicine becoming standard practice. New and ongoing barriers included infrequent use, competing demands and the continued resistance to a specific treatment.
Discussion: Understanding the factors supporting a health service in successfully implementing change can accelerate population benefits. The innovation itself may include barriers to be addressed, and barriers and facilitators can change over time. Individual attitudes remain critical to initial and ongoing success. Strategies proposed included promoting benefits across the organisation and allaying uncertainties with site-specific evidence. The effectiveness of these strategies, however, needs to be evaluated. Strategies sustaining change post-implementation should be considered.
Keywords: Behaviour change; health care; implementation; innovation; longitudinal; qualitative; stroke; sustainability; telemedicine.