Implementation of Smartphone Systems to Improve Quality of Life for People With Substance Use Disorder: Interim Report on a Randomized Controlled Trial

JMIR Hum Factors. 2022 Jul 14;9(3):e35125. doi: 10.2196/35125.


Background: Researchers have conducted numerous studies seeking to understand how to improve the implementation of changes in health care organizations, but less focus has been given to applying lessons already learned from implementation science. Finding innovative ways to apply these findings efficiently and consistently will improve current research on implementation strategies and allow organizations utilizing these techniques to make changes more effectively.

Objective: This research aims to compare a practical implementation approach that uses principles from prior implementation studies to more traditional ways of implementing change.

Methods: A total of 43 addiction treatment sites in Iowa were randomly assigned to 2 different implementation strategies in a randomized comparative effectiveness trial studying the implementation of an eHealth substance use disorder treatment technology. One strategy used an adaptation of the Network for the Improvement of Addiction Treatment (NIATx) improvement approach, while the other used a traditional product training model. This paper discusses lessons learned about implementation.

Results: This midterm report indicates that use of the NIATx approach appears to be leading to improved outcomes on several measures, including initial and sustained use of new technology by both counselors and patients. Additionally, this research indicates that seamlessly integrating organizational changes into existing workflows and using coaching to overcome hurdles and assess progress are important to improve implementation projects.

Conclusions: At this interim point in the study, it appears that the use of the NIATx improvement process leads to better outcomes in implementation of changes within health care organizations. Moreover, some strategies used in this improvement process are particularly useful and should be drawn on more heavily in future implementation efforts.

Trial registration: NCT03954184;

Keywords: NIATx; coaching; mobile technology; substance use disorder (SUD) treatment; technology implementation model.

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