The responses below are by Al Cudmore, Regional Implementation Coordinator, and Trevor Wereley, Director, Regional Services, Provincial System Support Program (PSSP), the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH).
Why should organizations invest in implementation science? What return on investment can we expect?
Al Cudmore: Every organization does implementation, whether successfully or not, as part of its administration, clinical, or IT protocols. Organizations benefit when they use implementation science because they waste less time, energy, and resources on approaches that don’t lead to the adoption of new practices.
Trevor Wereley: Implementation science is a proven best practice that can be used for both internal and external processes. Organizations can use it as a framework to monitor and improve implementation strategies. Use of implementation science gives organizations legitimacy because they’re using an evidence-based approach as part of their practice.
How has your organization found success in adopting implementation science in its work? What would you describe as the critical success factors?
Al Cudmore: A big part of our success in adopting implementation science has been the development of our regional implementation teams. Each member of the team has a unique role - whether it be coaching, evaluation, or knowledge exchange - and is given opportunities to develop competencies in their field.
Trevor Wereley: The implementation teams are integral to the success of all implementation initiatives at PSSP, both at a program-structure level and as vehicles for applying, testing, and improving interventions with a visible accountability and stewardship model. Another critical factor is that leadership at all levels of the organization understands and endorses the implementation science framework and protocols. Also, by putting this model in place systematically across PSSP, we provided both internal and external proof of its practice value to the program and the organization.
How did your organization build implementation science capacity across its teams?
Al Cudmore: We used a bit of a mixed methodology to build capacity: workshops, lectures, webinars, and self-study. Our best learning, though, was accomplished by getting out and working with our stakeholders. It felt a bit like building the road while we were driving on it, but there is nothing that replaces learning by doing.
Trevor Wereley: Our program established a working relationship with implementation science experts and community stakeholders to build capacity among leadership and staff, both internally and externally. We then continued to develop this capacity by putting the teams in place, to actually put implementation science into practice.
Can implementation science change behaviour at the front lines of health care delivery?
Al Cudmore: Yes. Although implementation science is a relatively new field, we are constantly refining implementation approaches that will help to embed effective practices within the healthcare system. One of my favourite quotes about implementation is, “Patients can’t benefit from interventions they never receive.”
Trevor Wereley: Implementation science leads frontline staff to be more engaged because they see their expertise being recognized. It also gives staff the opportunity to be involved in both practice and program improvements.