Newswise — September 8, 2023 As part of its partnership with the Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute (PCORI), Medical Care has published its first PCORI-sponsored article collection, which provides specific information about the costs that healthcare systems can expect to incur in promoting the uptake of specific evidence-based programs. Medical Care, the official journal of the Medical Care Section of the American Public Health Association, is published in the Lippincott portfolio by Wolters Kluwer. 

In the September issue, five project teams that received Implementation Award funding from PCORI describe their approaches and methods for determining the costs of implementing programs into routine clinical practice, and they report their cost findings. 

"Having cost information available during the decision-making process—before implementation occurs—has been found to be particularly important so that leaders can consider financial implications and weigh trade-offs before investing in implementing an evidence-based practice change," Valerie Lehman, MHA, program officer for dissemination and implementation at PCORI, and colleagues note in an introductory editorial. "Yet information about the cost of implementation is not often available." 

Accounting for context-specific considerations when assessing costs of implementation is crucial 

One paper in the collections reports on a team that assessed the costs of implementing Connect to Health, an evidence-based pediatric weight management program, into three healthcare systems that care for pediatric populations with a disproportionately high prevalence of obesity: Denver Health; Prisma Health in Greenville, South Carolina; and Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston. 

Natalie Smith, PhD and Douglas E. Levy, PhD, investigators at the Mongan Institute Health Policy Research Center at Mass General, together with colleagues, used time-driven activity-based costing methods. Specifically, each of the three sites developed a process map and a detailed report of all implementation actions taken, aligned with major implementation requirements (e.g., electronic health record integration) or strategies (e.g., providing clinician training). For each action, sites identified the personnel involved and estimated the time they spent, and the research team then estimated the total costs of implementation and broke down the costs for major categories of implementation activities. 

Process maps showed the program integrated easily into well-child visits. Overall implementation costs ranged from $77,103 to $142,721, with setting up the technological aspects of the program being a major driver of costs. Other drivers included training, engaging stakeholders, and audit and feedback activities, but there was variability across healthcare systems based on how they chose to implement the program and expend resources. 

Site-specific data can be useful to other healthcare centers 

"Beyond just the technological aspects of the program, our findings provide valuable information for future adoption and implementation decisions as they clearly delineate what kinds of costs sites should expect, the personnel involved in various implementation actions, and how costs were distributed across pre-implementation and implementation," Dr. Smith and her co-authors say. "Disaggregating costs across different categories allows future sites to better plan for what to expect in implementation, even if the exact dollar amounts will likely be different than what was observed in the three research sites." 

Ms. Lehman and the other editorialists add that all five papers "provide more information to healthcare decision-makers on the actual observed costs associated with implementing evidence-based practices. Each team was able to capture the specific types of personnel, as well as the detailed tasks and activities, involved in implementation, essentially laying out clear pathways for future sites considering whether and how to put these evidence-based practices into place." 

Read Article [Costs to Implement a Pediatric Weight Management Program Across 3 Distinct Contexts]

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About Medical Care 

Rated as one of the top ten journals in healthcare administration, Medical Care is devoted to all aspects of the administration and delivery of healthcare. This scholarly journal publishes original, peer-reviewed papers documenting the most current developments related to the research, planning, organization, financing, provision, and evaluation of health services. 

About The American Public Health Association 

The American Public Health Association is the only organization that combines a 150-year perspective, a broad-based member community, and the ability to influence policy to improve the public's health. The Member Care section advocates for strengthening the social, economic, and environmental conditions that preserve and enhance health as well as a medical care system that assures high-quality care, accessible preventive medicine, and cultural sensitivity for all. 

About Wolters Kluwer  

Wolters Kluwer (EURONEXT: WKL) is a global leader in professional information, software solutions, and services for the healthcare, tax and accounting, financial and corporate compliance, legal and regulatory, and corporate performance and ESG sectors. We help our customers make critical decisions every day by providing expert solutions that combine deep domain knowledge with specialized technology and services. Wolters Kluwer reported 2022 annual revenues of €5.5 billion. The group serves customers in over 180 countries, maintains operations in over 40 countries, and employs approximately 20,900 people worldwide. The company is headquartered in Alphen aan den Rijn, the Netherlands. 

Journal Link: Medical Care