Implementation of Evidence-Based Policies and Practices

Salcido, Richard MD, EdD

Advances in Skin & Wound Care:
doi: 10.1097/
Departments: Editorial
Author Information

Richard “Sal” Salcido, MD, EdD, is the Editor-in-Chief of Advances in Skin “ Wound Care and the Course Director for the Annual Clinical Symposium on Advances in Skin “ Wound Care. He is the William Erdman Professor, Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation; Senior Fellow, Institute on Aging; and Associate, Institute of Medicine and Bioengineering, at the University of Pennsylvania Health System, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

Article Outline

Clinical policies, procedures, and documents outlining “best practices” abound. How do we sort them out and package them into usable and focused knowledge bundles for practical clinical implementation?

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Implementation research (IR) is the scientific study of methods used to systematize the incorporation of research findings and other evidence-based practices into routine clinical practice. It incorporates the study of quality and effectiveness of health services delivery1 and examines the organizational dynamics, leadership, and processes used to implement a given treatment or practice.1,2 Implementation research is characterized as a broad term that focuses on the question of “what is happening?” Examining what takes place in the research process from implementations to outcomes, IR also asks, “Is it what is expected or desired?” and “Why is it happening as it is?” As Chopra and Sanders3 state, “Over the past 2 decades, experienced health policymakers and practitioners have noted a widening gap between scientific knowledge and policies on the one hand and their implementation on the other.” One of the issues intrinsic to IR is the recurrent argument that scholars of IR pose about the timing of IR. Two questions are paramount: Should the policy analysis be tested during the development of the policy itself or, as in most cases, after the policy has been developed? This is called forward mapping, backward mapping, and concept mapping4–6 and has also been termed critical path development.4–6

One of the core competencies of a practicing wound care clinician is the mastery of “health systems-based practice,” which can be summarized as “what do I need to know about the system of care and how it works” to provide the appropriate and safe care for my patient. Health systems research is concerned with operations of the system and is structured to satisfy the interrogative of how the process is completed. Remme et al7 describe several research domains or a framework to understand the context of defining research to improve health systems. The research domains begin at the local level with operations (healthcare providers), and the second level research domain is at the implementation level (program managers). The third domain is the health system (health system managers and policy makers), where the research results that were achieved at the provider level ultimately have the potential to be implemented as policy.7

In order to see the logical place for health systems research (HSR) in wound care, the following schema may be helpful by outlining how health systems research fits into the system of care.

Biomedical research is concerned with the biomechanical extrinsic and intrinsic factors that lead to pressure ulcers (PrUs), anatomy, physiology, and tissue mechanics. This may also be termed along a continuum from basic research to “translational research (bench to bedside).”8,9

Clinical research determines the efficacy of various treatments for chronic wounds, PrUs, and secondary functional impairments. This phase may also be termed “patient-oriented research.”10

Epidemiological research estimates the number of new and current cases of chronic wounds and PrUs (incidence and prevalence). This type of research also identifies certain risk factors and determines the distribution of the disease (age, sex, race, disease process, and level or transitions of care).11

Health systems research examines the way the health system functions to ensure that effective and evidence-based treatment protocols are delivered to those who need it7 (turning protocols, wound bed preparation, and wound care dressings and biologics). And, HSR is concerned with wound care quality improvement bundles where the denominator is representative of the number of improvements or failures of the patients served, and the numerator represents the total of the cohort in the system of care that were targeted for the treatment protocols.12

The continuing education feature (page 280) examines another framework model for quality improvement in PrU research.

Richard “Sal” Salcido, MD, EdD

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