• Implementation of peer specialist services in VA primary care: a cluster randomized trial on the impact of external facilitation

      Chinman, Matthew; Goldberg, Richard; Daniels, Karin; Muralidharan, Anjana; Smith, Jeffrey; McCarthy, Sharon; Medoff, Deborah; Peeples, Amanda; Kuykendall, Lorrianne; Vineyard, Natalie; et al. (Springer Nature, 2021-06-07)
      Background: Over 1100 veterans work in the Veterans Health Administration (VHA) as peer specialists (PSs)-those with formal training who support other veterans with similar diagnoses. A White House Executive Action mandated the pilot reassignment of VHA PSs from their usual placement in mental health to 25 primary care Patient Aligned Care Teams (PACTs) in order to broaden the provision of wellness services that can address many chronic illnesses. An evaluation of this initiative was undertaken to assess the impact of outside assistance on the deployment of PSs in PACTs, as implementation support is often needed to prevent challenges commonly experienced when first deploying PSs in new settings. Methods: This study was a cluster-randomized hybrid II effectiveness-implementation trial to test the impact of minimal implementation support vs. facilitated implementation on the deployment of VHA PSs in PACT over 2 years. Twenty-five Veterans Affairs Medical Centers (VAMCs) were recruited to reassign mental health PSs to provide wellness-oriented care in PACT. Sites in three successive cohorts (n = 7, 10, 8) over 6-month blocks were matched and randomized to each study condition. In facilitated implementation, an outside expert worked with site stakeholders through a site visit and regular calls, and provided performance data to guide the planning and address challenges. Minimal implementation sites received a webinar and access to the VHA Office of Mental Health Services work group. The two conditions were compared on PS workload data and veteran measures of activation, satisfaction, and functioning. Qualitative interviews collected information on perceived usefulness of the PS services. Results: In the first year, sites that received facilitation had higher numbers of unique veterans served and a higher number of PS visits, although the groups did not differ after the second year. Also, sites receiving external facilitation started delivering PS services more quickly than minimal support sites. All sites in the external facilitation condition continued in the pilot into the second year, whereas two of the sites in the minimal assistance condition dropped out after the first year. There were no differences between groups on veterans' outcomes-activation, satisfaction, and functioning. Most veterans were very positive about the help they received as evidenced in the qualitative interviews. Discussion: These findings demonstrate that external facilitation can be effective in supporting the implementation of PSs in primary care settings. The lack of significant differences across conditions after the second year highlights the positive outcomes associated with active facilitation, while also raising the important question of whether longer-term success may require some level of ongoing facilitation and implementation support. Trial registration: This project is registered at ClinicalTrials.gov with number NCT02732600 (URL: https://clinicaltrials.gov/ct2/show/NCT02732600 ).
    • Preferences Elicited and Respected for Seriously Ill Veterans through Enhanced Decision-Making (PERSIVED): a protocol for an implementation study in the Veterans Health Administration.

      Ersek, Mary; Sales, Anne; Keddem, Shimrit; Ayele, Roman; Haverhals, Leah M; Magid, Kate H; Kononowech, Jennifer; Murray, Andrew; Carpenter, Joan G; Foglia, Mary Beth; et al. (Springer Nature, 2022-07-20)
      Background: Empirical evidence supports the use of structured goals of care conversations and documentation of life-sustaining treatment (LST) preferences in durable, accessible, and actionable orders to improve the care for people living with serious illness. As the largest integrated healthcare system in the USA, the Veterans Health Administration (VA) provides an excellent environment to test implementation strategies that promote this evidence-based practice. The Preferences Elicited and Respected for Seriously Ill Veterans through Enhanced Decision-Making (PERSIVED) program seeks to improve care outcomes for seriously ill Veterans by supporting efforts to conduct goals of care conversations, systematically document LST preferences, and ensure timely and accurate communication about preferences across VA and non-VA settings. Methods: PERSIVED encompasses two separate but related implementation projects that support the same evidence-based practice. Project 1 will enroll 12 VA Home Based Primary Care (HBPC) programs and Project 2 will enroll six VA Community Nursing Home (CNH) programs. Both projects begin with a pre-implementation phase during which data from diverse stakeholders are gathered to identify barriers and facilitators to adoption of the LST evidence-based practice. This baseline assessment is used to tailor quality improvement activities using audit with feedback and implementation facilitation during the implementation phase. Site champions serve as the lynchpin between the PERSIVED project team and site personnel. PERSIVED teams support site champions through monthly coaching sessions. At the end of implementation, baseline site process maps are updated to reflect new steps and procedures to ensure timely conversations and documentation of treatment preferences. During the sustainability phase, intense engagement with champions ends, at which point champions work independently to maintain and improve processes and outcomes. Ongoing process evaluation, guided by the RE-AIM framework, is used to monitor Reach, Adoption, Implementation, and Maintenance outcomes. Effectiveness will be assessed using several endorsed clinical metrics for seriously ill populations. Discussion: The PERSIVED program aims to prevent potentially burdensome LSTs by consistently eliciting and documenting values, goals, and treatment preferences of seriously ill Veterans. Working with clinical operational partners, we will apply our findings to HBPC and CNH programs throughout the national VA healthcare system during a future scale-out period.