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BMC Health Services Research





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BACKGROUND: This study was a retrospective evaluation of an unsuccessfully implemented team-based, chronic disease management program, with an aim to understand more about implementation barriers. The program, the Chronic Disease Management Initiative (CDMI) was a new collaborative model of care for patients with COPD. It utilized customized health information and interactive tools, mainly smartphones, for ongoing disease management. The program's goal was to demonstrate that integrated team-based models of care could improve patient care, as well as reduce readmission rates and emergency department visits. The program planning for CDMI began in 2017, followed by the implementation and evaluation period in 2018. After a 10-month implementation period, the program was unable to enroll a sufficient number of patients to examine if there was an improvement in patient outcomes.

METHODS: A retrospective case-study design using multiple data sources was used to gather feedback from participants involved in CDMI. Data collection occurred throughout planning and implementation and continued into early 2019. Semi-structured interviews were conducted, and transcripts were analyzed using NVivo 10 software. This was followed by content analysis.

RESULTS: Analysis revealed four key themes as barriers to CDMI's implementation: 1) lack of a needs assessment with key stakeholders; 2) lack of buy-in from medical staff; 3) inadequate patient engagement and; 4) contextual barriers. Planners did not conduct a proper needs assessment, nor include patients in the study design. In addition, there was insufficient consideration for how CDMI should be integrated into the usual COPD care plan, leading to confusion in roles and responsibilities. Poor communication between the implementation team and healthcare providers implementing the program, led to a lack of buy-in and engagement.

CONCLUSION: The key themes resonate with what is already known in the literature. This study supports the importance of using a theoretically grounded plan for implementation. Using a model only in the planning stages is insufficient even when an intervention is based on evidence to support higher quality care. It is imperative to consider practical and contextual factors of program implementation and their interactions. By detailing the 'failed implementation' of this intervention, we hope to share important lessons about the need to plan implementation processes early in program planning.

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Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

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