Direct Admission Program Implementation: A Qualitative Analysis of Variation Across Health Systems

Pediatrics. 2024 Apr 1;153(4):e2023063569. doi: 10.1542/peds.2023-063569.


Objectives: Direct admission (DA) to the hospital has the potential to improve family satisfaction and timeliness of care by bypassing the emergency department. Using the RE-AIM implementation framework, we sought to characterize variation across health systems in the reach, effectiveness, adoption, and implementation of a DA program from the perspectives of parents and multidisciplinary clinicians.

Methods: As part of a stepped-wedge cluster randomized trial to compare the effectiveness of DA to admission through the emergency department, we evaluated DA rates across 69 clinics and 3 health systems and conducted semi-structured interviews with parents and clinicians. We used thematic analysis to identify themes related to the reach, effectiveness, adoption, and implementation of the DA program and applied axial coding to characterize thematic differences across sites.

Results: Of 2599 hospitalizations, 171 (6.6%) occurred via DA, with DA rates varying 10-fold across health systems from 0.9% to 9.3%. Through the analysis of 137 interviews, including 84 with clinicians and 53 with parents, we identified similarities across health systems in themes related to perceived program effectiveness and patient and family engagement. Thematic differences across sites in the domains of program implementation and clinician adoption included variation in transfer center efficiency, trust between referring and accepting clinicians, and the culture of change within the health system.

Conclusions: The DA program was adopted variably, highlighting unique challenges and opportunities for implementation in different hospital systems. These findings can inform future quality improvement efforts to improve transitions to the hospital.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial

MeSH terms

  • Hospitalization*
  • Humans
  • Program Evaluation
  • Quality Improvement*