October 22, 2015

From research to reality: Spreading innovation in primary care



Dr. Michael Parchman asks: Can tapping into digital communications help us engage busy primary care practices in research that improves health?

By Michael Parchman, MD, MPH, director of the MacColl Center for Health Care Innovation at Group Health Research Institute

Dissemination, translation, and implementation. They’re scientific words that may not mean much to the average person. But without them, promising research does little more than sit on a shelf.

In the last several years, research to improve and strengthen primary care has been gaining momentum. But what good are evidence-based strategies that improve patient health if busy primary care practices don’t know about them or are unsure how to adapt them to their own settings? And how do we, as researchers, overcome the many challenges that keep innovations out of the hands of the people who need them most?

These are the questions that drive my work every day. These are the questions behind the Implementing Innovations into Practice blog—a new resource we’re exploring to encourage primary care professionals try out new approaches that promise to bring better health to their patients.

News and opportunities from the front lines of research and primary care

The Implementing Innovations into Practice blog will feature weekly posts on proven strategies primary care practices can use to improve both care and financial performance. From local success stories to national initiatives, the goal is to highlight practical and relevant ways for practices to be the best they can be.

The goal of the blog is to connect primary care professionals with each other and with researchers to explore new innovations in primary care. It’s aimed at helping people who work in primary care to hear from their colleagues, share their stories, and learn what works to foster better health for patients and a better work environment for staff.

Science on science: Discovering what works to turn research into better health

The blog is part of a larger Implementing Innovations initiative that my team is leading with the Institute of Translational Health Sciences at the University of Washington. The ultimate goal? To speed the translation of research findings into real-word practice, particularly in the WWAMI region (Washington, Wyoming, Alaska, Montana, and Idaho).

My team’s role is to do science on science—that is, to study different ways of promoting the integration of scientific discoveries into everyday health care and health-related policies.

Through this work, we will develop new methodologies that help advance the field of implementation science, which means how to move evidence into practice

So, why a blog? Developing and testing a blog allows us to explore “social network theory,” which is based on the idea that information spreads more quickly and effectively through key influencers (or nodes) in a network or community. The blog not only lets us feature stories from a variety of different voices, including these key influencers, it also allows us to study how the information does or doesn’t spread across a network or community.

We’re launching the blog to several different primary care audiences and then learning from what happens next—tracking open rates, shares, clicks, comments, and overall engagement. We hope to gain insights about the types of information and opportunities that are most valuable to different sectors of our audience—and how to get that information to them as quickly and efficiently as possible.

I invite you to check out our Implementing Innovations into Practice blog and to share it with your colleagues who work in primary care. If you see something you like or want to learn more about, we’ll hope you join the conversation by leaving a comment. And if you have a story you’d like to share, please let us know by emailing the blog editor.