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A mixed methods descriptive investigation of readiness to change in rural hospitals participating in a tele-critical care intervention

29 Jan 2013

Telemedicine technology can improve care to patients in rural and medically underserved communities yet adoption has been slow. The objective of this study was to study organizational readiness to participate in an academic-community hospital partnership including clinician education and telemedicine outreach focused on sepsis and trauma care in underserved, rural hospitals.
This is a multi-method, observational case study. Participants included staff from 4 participating rural South Carolina hospitals. Using a readiness-for-change model, we evaluated 5 general domains and the related factors or topics of organizational context via key informant interviews (n=23) with hospital leadership and staff, compared these to data from hospital staff surveys (n=86) and triangulated data with investigators' observational reports. Survey items were grouped into 4 categories (based on content and fit with conceptual model) and scored, allowing regression analyses for inferential comparisons to assess factors related to receptivity toward the telemedicine innovation.
General agreement existed on the need for the intervention and feasibility of implementation. Previous experience with a telemedicine program appeared pivotal to enthusiasm. Perception of need, task demands and resource need explained nearly 50% of variation in receptivity. Little correlation emerged with hospital or ED leadership culture and support. However qualitative data and investigator observations about communication and differing support among disciplines and between staff and leadership could be important to actual implementation.
A mixed methods approach proved useful in assessing organizational readiness for change in small organizations. Further research on variable operational definitions, potential influential factors, appropriate and feasible methods and valid instruments for such research are needed.

29 January 2013

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