Spreading the Veterans Health Administration's emergency department rapid access clinics (ED-RAC) innovation: Role of champions and local contexts

Lauren S. Penney, Jessica L. Moreau, Isomi Miake-Lye, Davis Lewis, Adrian D'Amico, Kelli Lee, Brianna Scott, Susan Kirsh, Kristina M. Cordasco

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: Champions frequently facilitate change in healthcare, but the literature lacks specificity regarding champion activities and interactions with local contexts. The Veterans' Health Administration (VA) Emergency Department (ED) Rapid Access Clinic (ED-RAC) initiative used champions to spread an innovation aimed at achieving timely specialty follow-up care for ED patients. We assessed the roles champions and local contexts played in successful ED-RAC spread in the initiative's first year. Methods: Our mixed method formative evaluation included serial questionnaires, fieldnotes from meetings, and champion interviews. We analyzed qualitative data from spread site rapid and non-rapid implementers, assessing champion and contextual factors. Results: Among 24 participating VA sites, 11 were rapid implementers (i.e., implemented ED-RAC in first year), 13 were not. Site champions at rapid sites described crossing multiple organizational units to get tasks accomplished (e.g., gaining buy-in, requesting resources); champions at non-rapid sites experienced inter-departmental communication challenges and competing demands. Champions at rapid and non-rapid sites encountered similar context-related barriers (e.g. scheduling complexities) and facilitators (e.g. enthusiastic buy-in), but differed in leadership and resource barriers. Conclusions: Identifying site champions was not enough to assure rapid innovation spread. Interdependencies between ED-RAC implementation requirements (e.g., boundary spanning, resources) and champion and contextual factors helped explain variations in progress. Implications: Tailoring spread support to champion and contextual factors may facilitate more rapid spread of innovations.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number100516
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jun 2021


  • Care coordination
  • Emergency medicine
  • Facilitation
  • Implementation science
  • Qualitative

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health Policy


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