Using Iterative RE-AIM to enhance hospitalist adoption of lung ultrasound in the management of patients with COVID-19: an implementation pilot study

Implement Sci Commun. 2022 Aug 12;3(1):89. doi: 10.1186/s43058-022-00334-x.


Background: Lung ultrasound (LUS) is a clinician-performed evidence-based imaging modality that has multiple advantages in the evaluation of dyspnea caused by multiple disease processes, including COVID-19. Despite these advantages, few hospitalists have been trained to perform LUS. The aim of this study was to increase adoption and implementation of LUS during the 2020 COVID-19 pandemic by using recurrent assessments of RE-AIM outcomes to iteratively revise our implementation strategies.

Methods: In an academic hospital, we implemented guidelines for the use of LUS in patients with COVID-19 in July 2020. Using a novel "RE-AIM dashboard," we used an iterative process of evaluating the high-priority outcomes of Reach, Adoption, and Implementation at twice monthly intervals to inform revisions of our implementation strategies for LUS delivery (i.e., Iterative RE-AIM process). Using a convergent mixed methods design, we integrated quantitative RE-AIM outcomes with qualitative hospitalist interview data to understand the dynamic determinants of LUS Reach, Adoption, and Implementation.

Results: Over the 1-year study period, 453 LUSs were performed in 298 of 12,567 eligible inpatients with COVID-19 (Reach = 2%). These 453 LUS were ordered by 43 out of 86 eligible hospitalists (LUS order adoption = 50%). However, the LUSs were performed/supervised by only 8 of these 86 hospitalists, 4 of whom were required to complete LUS credentialing as members of the hospitalist procedure service (proceduralist adoption 75% vs 1.2% non-procedural hospitalists adoption). Qualitative and quantitative data obtained to evaluate this Iterative RE-AIM process led to the deployment of six sequential implementation strategies and 3 key findings including (1) there were COVID-19-specific barriers to LUS adoption, (2) hospitalists were more willing to learn to make clinical decisions using LUS images than obtain the images themselves, and (3) mandating the credentialing of a strategically selected sub-group may be a successful strategy for improving Reach.

Conclusions: Mandating use of a strategically selected subset of clinicians may be an effective strategy for improving Reach of LUS. Additionally, use of Iterative RE-AIM allowed for timely adjustments to implementation strategies, facilitating higher levels of LUS Adoption and Reach. Future studies should explore the replicability of these preliminary findings.

Keywords: COVID-19; Implementation science; Lung ultrasound; RE-AIM.