||Research News: Health Care Innovations - A New Guide For Decision Makers
Rand: AHRQ has released a new tool called "Will it Work Here? A Decision
Maker’s Guide to Adopting Innovations." AHRQ researcher and co-author Cindy
Brach says the guide supports health care executives, administrators, and
clinicians make better decisions about whether to change the way they do
Ms. Brach: The decision of whether or not to adopt a health care
innovation has high stakes. A wrong decision could mean losing your competitive
edge or wasting time or money on something that isn’t going to work in your
organization. But all too frequently these decisions are made on an ad hoc
basis. This guide facilitates evidence-based decision making. It lays out a
process for determining whether an innovation would be a good fit, or an
appropriate stretch, for your organization.
Rand: For those who may not be as familiar with the term, what is a
health care innovation?
Ms. Brach: A health care innovation is a new way of performing a service
or delivering health care. An innovation can be a service, a product, a system,
an organizational structure, or even a business model.
Rand: Can you give us an example?
Ms. Brach: There are four case studies included in the guide’s appendix
that provide examples of health care innovation adoption decision making. Let me
tell you about one of them. This is Golisano Children’s Hospital which decided
to adopt family-centered rounds. For family-centered rounds, everyone
responsible for the child’s care, including family members, gather at the
bedside to assess the patient’s status and formulate plans for the day. The
rounds include a read-back and confirmation of orders that are entered using a
laptop that’s brought into the room. They also include discussing whether the
patient meets discharge criteria. Family-centered rounds put everyone on the
same page each morning, but it required a change in how rounding was done.
Rand: So what do health care organizations have to consider when deciding
whether to adopt an innovation?
Ms. Brach: First, they have to consider the context in which the
innovation was originally implemented, and whether they’re likely to get the
same results given their organization’s workforce, patients, and culture. Then
they need to assess the costs, the benefits, and the risks involved in adopting
Rand: How does the guide help them do that?
Ms. Brach: The guide takes users through a series of questions, and then
refers them to Web-based tools that can help users answer them. For example,
there are tools to help assess organizational capacity, tools to measure staff
satisfaction or staff readiness for change, and tools to calculate the return on
Rand: So what’s the bottom line? How do you know if adopting the
innovation will be worth it?
Ms. Brach: My advice for those interested in adopting a health care
innovation is to do your homework first. Once you’ve decided an innovation makes
sense, you need to think through how you’re going to implement it. For an
innovation to be successful, support is needed on every level of the
organization from the top leadership to the front-line workers. Before adopting
an innovation, you should be clear about what you expect from the innovation and
how you’re going to measure its impact. And the guide will help you do all of
Rand: "Will it Work Here? A Decision Maker’s Guide to Adopting
Innovations" is available online at
You can also browse this Web site to read about health services innovations
implemented in a variety of health care and other settings. Up next, health care
advice from AHRQ Director Dr. Carolyn Clancy.