March 20, 2014

New center to focus on ‘implementation science’ initiatives

Implementation science is a new and growing field concerned with the transfer of research findings and medical evidence into routine health care.

Implementation science is a new and growing field concerned with the transfer of research findings and medical evidence into routine health care.

The core of implementation science is the study of clinical quality improvement strategies, addressing not only the content of clinical care — prevention, diagnostics, therapeutics — but also the organization and workings of the care delivery system.

Sunil Kripalani, M.D., M.Sc.

This is the province of Vanderbilt’s new Center for Clinical Quality and Implementation Research. Housed within the Center for Health Services Research in the Institute for Medicine and Public Health, the new center will conduct research and assist Vanderbilt teams with the design, implementation and evaluation of clinical quality and safety initiatives. As the center gathers faculty and professional staff, teams from across the Medical Center will increasingly participate in the scientific study of clinical improvement projects, from inception to peer-reviewed publication.

“Our mission is to advance research on the quality, safety and delivery of health care,” said the center’s director, Sunil Kripalani, M.D., MSc, associate professor of Medicine.

“As the Medical Center continues to implement clinical improvement projects, we’ll support the evaluation of this activity from a scientific standpoint. We will help develop and design approaches to improving quality based on theory and evidence, and assess the effectiveness of quality initiatives, including why and how a given strategy worked.”

Experts at the center will also initiate grant-funded research projects of their own, and help interested investigators with grant proposals.

“Within our division, Dr. Kripalani has established a research portfolio focused on implementation science. I am pleased to see him assume this institutional role, which allows us to scale these research efforts to Vanderbilt and beyond,” said Tom Elasy, M.D., MPH, director of the Division of General Internal Medicine and Public Health.

The center will also sponsor an implementation science research forum open to faculty, staff and students, and a research support core will be developed for VUMC groups that may want to engage dedicated services from the center.

“We’re very pleased to welcome Dr. Kripalani to this expanded role,” said Russell Rothman, M.D., MPP, director of the Center for Health Services Research.

“In addition to improving health care delivery, the center’s work holds great promise to advance research and improve individual health outcomes and overall population health.”
Start-up funds for the center come from the Institute for Medicine and Public Health, led by Robert Dittus, M.D., MPH, senior associate dean for Population Health Sciences.

“We look forward to contributions from Dr. Kripalani’s team and their future partners from across our clinical enterprise,” Dittus said.

“Vanderbilt and its peer institutions are engaged in designing and building a better health care system, and this growing area of research will be essential to that critical activity. There is so much to be discovered and created in the theories and basic methods of implementation science, and this center will seek to advance these understandings, while using current approaches to improve clinical care delivery and health outcomes.”

A number of Vanderbilt quality improvement projects have appeared in research journals, but, “for every one that’s been published, 50 more may have occurred. We’d like to help share more of the excellent work that’s being done here,” Kripalani said.