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Stockdale SE, Hamilton AB, Bergman AA, Rose DE, Giannitrapani KF, Dresselhaus TR, Yano EM, Rubenstein LV. Assessing fidelity to evidence-based quality improvement as an implementation strategy for patient-centered medical home transformation in the Veterans Health Administration. Implementation science : IS. 2020 Mar 18; 15(1):18.
BACKGROUND: Effective implementation strategies might facilitate patient-centered medical home (PCMH) uptake and spread by targeting barriers to change. Evidence-based quality improvement (EBQI) is a multi-faceted implementation strategy that is based on a clinical-researcher partnership. It promotes organizational change by fostering innovation and the spread of those innovations that are successful. Previous studies demonstrated that EBQI accelerated PCMH adoption within Veterans Health Administration primary care practices, compared with standard PCMH implementation. Research to date has not documented fidelity to the EBQI implementation strategy, limiting usefulness of prior research findings. This paper develops and assesses clinical participants' fidelity to three core EBQI elements for PCMH (EBQI-PCMH), explores the relationship between fidelity and successful QI project completion and spread (the outcome of EBQI-PCMH), and assesses the role of the clinical-researcher partnership in achieving EBQI-PCMH fidelity. METHODS: Nine primary care practice sites and seven across-sites, topic-focused workgroups participated (2010-2014). Core EBQI elements included leadership-frontlines priority-setting for QI, ongoing access to technical expertise, coaching, and mentoring in QI methods (through a QI collaborative), and data/evidence use to inform QI. We used explicit criteria to measure and assess EBQI-PCMH fidelity across clinical participants. We mapped fidelity to evaluation data on implementation and spread of successful QI projects/products. To assess the clinical-researcher partnership role in EBQI-PCMH, we analyzed 73 key stakeholder interviews using thematic analysis. RESULTS: Seven of 9 sites and 3 of 7 workgroups achieved high or medium fidelity to leadership-frontlines priority-setting. Fidelity was mixed for ongoing technical expertise and data/evidence use. Longer duration in EBQI-PCMH and higher fidelity to priority-setting and ongoing technical expertise appear correlated with successful QI project completion and spread. According to key stakeholders, partnership with researchers, as well as bi-directional communication between leaders and QI teams and project management/data support were critical to achieving EBQI-PCMH fidelity. CONCLUSIONS: This study advances implementation theory and research by developing measures for and assessing fidelity to core EBQI elements in relationship to completion and spread of QI innovation projects or tools for addressing PCMH challenges. These results help close the gap between EBQI elements, their intended outcome, and the finding that EBQI-PCMH resulted in accelerated adoption of PCMH.