In recent years, there has been growing recognition that a number of gaps prevent evidence-based interventions from leading to optimal health outcomes. According to the National Institutes of Health, these include “research-to-policy gaps” (i.e., research evidence is not integrated into the development of health outcomes) and “research-to-program gaps” (i.e., research evidence is not integrated into the development of health policy). Public Health Ontario’s recently launched strategic plan has identified knowledge translation and implementation science as important vehicles for translating research into practice and improving health outcomes for Ontarians.
According to the National Implementation Research Network (NIRN), implementation is a specified set of activities designed to put into practice an activity or program of known dimensions. Implementation science is an effective approach for making certain that a program or intervention is successful. It provides a framework for ensuring that a program is designed and implemented in a way that is sustainable, replicable across a number of settings (fidelity) and creates the intended behaviour change.
You might be asking yourself why implementation science, and why now? In 2013, the Infection Prevention and Control (IPAC) department turned its attention from developing knowledge products to knowledge translation and implementation science. IPAC’s leadership implemented a structure intended to advance the knowledge-to-action framework, increasing capacity and putting public health evidence into action. With the adoption of this framework, the IPAC department is looking to affect a measurable and sustained impact in the field by actively supporting the implementation of effective interventions in IPAC practices.
What’s next? The IPAC team is working to build capacity in knowledge translation and implementation science so that its products and tools can not only be used as reference, but also actively implemented in health care-associated infections and ultimately improve the health of Ontarians. Using this approach requires significant planning efforts in the beginning, but can yield significant and measurable positive change in the field. Learning to apply the implementation lens will also require capacity building and practice to effect change in the field and equip stakeholders to make sustainable changes in their settings.
By applying implementation science to the planning, development and delivery of health care interventions, we can help move projects and programs from good intentions to creating positive and measurable change.
An implementation science success story: Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH)
Building capacity in implementation science
Outbreak Management: Infection Control Resource Teams (September)
Reflecting on 10 Years of PIDAC (July)
Asymptomatic bacteriuria: An overview (June)
Hand Hygiene: The road ahead (May)