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Health information technology and implementation science: partners in progress in the VHA.

Hynes DM, Whittier ER, Owens A. Health information technology and implementation science: partners in progress in the VHA. Medical care. 2013 Mar 1; 51(3 Suppl 1):S6-12.

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BACKGROUND: The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) Quality Enhancement Research Initiative (QUERI) has demonstrated how implementation science can enhance the quality of health care. During this time an increasing number of implementation research projects have developed or utilized health information technology (HIT) innovations to leverage the VA's electronic health record and information systems. OBJECTIVE: To describe the HIT approaches used and to characterize the facilitators and barriers to progress within implementation research projects in the VA QUERI program. PARTICIPANTS: Nine case studies were selected from among 88 projects and represented 8 of 14 HIT categories identified. Each case study included key informants whose roles on the project were principal investigator, implementation science and informatics development. APPROACH: We conducted documentation analysis and semistructured in-person interviews with key informants for each of the 9 case studies. We used qualitative analysis software to identify and thematically code information and interview responses. RESULTS: : Thematic analyses revealed 3 domains or pathways critical to progression through the QUERI steps. These pathways addressed: (1) compliance and collaboration with information technology policies and procedures; (2) operating within organizational policies and building collaborations with end users, clinicians, and administrators; and (3) obtaining and maintaining research resources and approvals. CONCLUSION: Sustained efforts in HIT innovation and in implementation science in the Veterans Health Administration demonstrates the interdependencies of these initiatives and the critical pathways that can contribute to progress. Other health care quality improvement efforts that rely on HIT can learn from the Veterans Health Administration experience.

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