Implementation of an Academic-to-Community Hospital Intensive Care Unit Quality Improvement Program. Qualitative Analysis of Multilevel Facilitators and Barriers

Ann Am Thorac Soc. 2019 Jul;16(7):877-885. doi: 10.1513/AnnalsATS.201810-735OC.


Rationale: Implementation of evidence-based best practices is influenced by a variety of contextual factors. It is vital to characterize such factors to maintain high-quality care. Patients in the intensive care unit (ICU) are critically ill and require complex, interdisciplinary, evidence-based care to enable high-quality outcomes. Objectives: To identify facilitators and barriers to implementation of an academic-to-community hospital ICU interprofessional quality improvement program, "ICU Innovations." Methods: ICU Innovations is a multimodal quality improvement program implemented between 2014 and 2017 in six community ICUs in rural settings serving underserved patients in South Carolina. ICU Innovations includes quarterly on-site seminars and extensive behind the scenes facilitation to catalyze the implementation of evidence-based best practices. We use qualitative analysis to identify contextual factors related to program implementation processes. Guided by an implementation science framework, the Exploration, Adoption/Preparation, Implementation, Sustainment framework, we conducted semistructured key informant interviews with clinician champions at six community ICUs and six parallel interviews with ICU Innovations' leadership. We developed a qualitative coding template based on the framework and identified contextual factors associated with implementation. Standard data on hospital and ICU structure and processes of care were also collected. Results: Outer and inner factors interconnected dynamically to influence implementation of ICU Innovations. Collaborative engagement between the program developers and partner sites (outer context factor) and site program champion leadership and staff readiness for change (inner context factors) were key influences of implementation. Conclusions: This research focused on rural hospital ICUs with limited or nonexistent intensivist leadership. Although enthusiasm for the ICU Innovations program was initially high, implementation was challenging because of multiple contextual factors. Critical steps for implementation of evidence-based practice in rural hospitals include optimizing engagement with external collaborators, maximizing the role of a committed site champion, and conducting thorough site assessments to ensure staff and organizational readiness for change. Identifying barriers and facilitators to program implementation is an on-going process to tailor and improve program initiatives.

Keywords: critical care; implementation; intensive care; interdisciplinary care; quality of care.

Publication types

  • Multicenter Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Critical Care / organization & administration*
  • Delivery of Health Care, Integrated / organization & administration*
  • Evidence-Based Practice
  • Hospitals, Community
  • Humans
  • Intensive Care Units
  • Interdisciplinary Communication
  • Leadership
  • Outcome Assessment, Health Care*
  • Program Development
  • Quality Improvement / organization & administration*
  • South Carolina