Health Services Research & Development

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Flanagan ME, Plue L, Miller KK, Schmid AA, Myers L, Graham G, Miech EJ, Williams LS, Damush TM. A qualitative study of clinical champions in context: Clinical champions across three levels of acute care. SAGE open medicine. 2018 Aug 1; 6(1):2050312118792426.
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Abstract: Objectives: To compare activities and field descriptions of clinical champions across three levels of stroke centers. Methods: A cross-sectional qualitative study using quota sampling was conducted. The setting for this study was 38 acute stroke centers based in US Veterans Affairs Medical Centers with 8 designated as Primary, 24 as Limited Hours, and 6 as Stroke Support Centers. Key informants involved in stroke care were interviewed using a semi-structured approach. A cross-case synthesis approach was used to conduct a qualitative analysis of clinical champions' behaviors and characteristics. Clinical champion behaviors were described and categorized across three dimensions: enthusiasm, persistence, and involving the right people. Results: Clinical champions at Primary Stroke Centers represented diverse medical disciplines and departments (education, quality management); directed implementation of acute stroke care processes; coordinated processes across service lines; and benefited from supportive contexts for implementation. Clinical champions at Limited Hours Stroke Centers varied in steering implementation efforts, building collaboration across disciplines, and engaging in other clinical champion activities. Clinical champions at Stroke Support Centers were implementing limited changes to stroke care and exhibited few behaviors fitting the three clinical champion dimensions. Other clinical champion behaviors included educating colleagues, problem-solving, implementing new care pathways, monitoring progress, and standardizing processes. Conclusion: These data demonstrate clinical champion behaviors for implementing changes to complex care processes such as acute stroke care. Changes to complex care processes involved coordination among clinicians from multiple services lines, persistence facing obstacles to change, and enthusiasm for targeted practice changes.