Best practices in implementing inpatient pediatric asthma pathways: a qualitative study

J Asthma. 2020 Jul;57(7):744-754. doi: 10.1080/02770903.2019.1606237. Epub 2019 Apr 25.


Objective: Clinical pathways (operational versions of practice guidelines) can improve guideline adherence and quality of care for children hospitalized with asthma. However, there is limited guidance on how to implement pathways successfully. Our objective was to identify potential best practices in pathway implementation.Methods: In a previous observational study, we identified higher and lower performing children's hospitals based on hospital-level changes in asthma patient length of stay after implementation of a pathway. In this qualitative study, we conducted semi-structured interviews with a purposive sample of healthcare providers involved in pathway implementation at these hospitals. We used constant comparative methods to develop a conceptual model of potential best practices in implementation.Results: Healthcare providers (n = 24) from 6 higher performing and 2 lower performing hospitals were interviewed about pathway implementation. We identified several practices that addressed barriers and promoted successful pathway implementation: (1) utilizing quality improvement (QI) methodology and a data-driven approach helped overcome inertia of current practice; (2) getting teams to commit to shared goals around asthma care helped overcome disagreements in the implementation process; (3) integrating pathways into the electronic medical record decreased some burdens of implementation; (4) leveraging multidisciplinary teams by developing protocols for nurses and/or respiratory therapists to titrate medications reduced variability in provider practice; and (5) engaging hospital leaders with pathway implementation teams helped secure crucial resources.Conclusions: We identified several potential best practices to support pathway implementation. Hospitals implementing pathways should consider applying these strategies to better ensure success in improving quality of asthma care for children.

Keywords: Clinical pathway; children; guideline adherence; hospitals; quality of care.

Publication types

  • Observational Study

MeSH terms

  • Asthma / diagnosis
  • Asthma / therapy*
  • Child
  • Critical Pathways / organization & administration*
  • Critical Pathways / standards
  • Guideline Adherence
  • Health Plan Implementation / standards*
  • Hospitals, Pediatric / organization & administration*
  • Hospitals, Pediatric / standards
  • Humans
  • Practice Guidelines as Topic*
  • Qualitative Research
  • Quality Improvement