Training and skill development

Mentoring and training in spread skills for innovators

One of the strongest themes emerging from the SUS events was the enormous gap between the skill sets needed to create the innovation and the skill sets needed to spread the innovation. For innovators interested in spread, exposure to unfamiliar concepts such as marketing and entrepreneurship is important. Training and mentoring might include topics such as: how to simplify innovations to their core elements; how to calculate ROI; how to construct and present a business case; how to do a competitive analysis; how to create succinct message “elevator pitches” for a range of stakeholders, and how to identify most likely adopters. A variety of formats could be involved towards this goal, including intensive one-on-one mentoring, learning collaboratives for innovator-spreaders, and conferences.

Skill training for change champions in adopter organizations

Change champions have consistently been identified as essential elements of successful efforts to adopt and implement innovations in health care organizations. As is the case with health care innovators, change champions are often clinical professionals who have no background or training in change management issues that are essential to implementing new practices in any institution. The Practice Change Fellows program ( is an example of an intensive two-year program designed to develop the leadership skills needed to adopt and implement new programs for older adults. While intensive programs such as this have been found to be highly effective, experimentation in alternative formats to develop change champion skills would also be useful.

Learning collaboratives on adoption and uptake

Even when practitioners are highly skilled in SUS, they still have much to learn from one another. Peer learning collaboratives among potential and actual adopters of innovation would facilitate the sharing of lessons learned regarding the many alternations in structure, workflow, and general care process that are experienced during the adoption process. Given the broad variety of innovations, learning collaboratives focused on similar types of innovations would be needed.

Curricula on innovation and implementation science for medical and nursing schools

The spread of Innovations in health care delivery organizations will depend, at least in part, on the openness of medical and nursing leaders to adopting new ideas and practices. Currently, medical and nursing education does not universally include a focus on innovation and implementation science. To prepare the next generation of leaders for their roles as innovation developers and adopters, it would be useful to begin a dialogue on the need for curricula in innovation and implementation science focused on health care.

Facilitating adoption of innovation by providers for underserved populations

AHRQ’s mission includes a special focus on ensuring that health care is provided equitably for all populations, and that disparities in health and health care are reduced between mainstream and underserved and vulnerable populations. Safety net providers who work with these populations are often short of resources, and may not be in strong positions to advocate for improvements in their health care delivery systems. Targeted opportunities to create awareness and demand for innovation among providers for underserved populations may be useful first steps.

Develop funding and programmatic partnerships among government and private funders interested in supporting SUS

Recent conferences and events focused on SUS of health care innovations have surfaced the need for developing collaborative partnerships among the various funders who have interest in supporting implementation of SUS efforts. It is clear that accelerating the uptake of health care innovations will require external funding, and there is much to be gained by developing synergies among funders in the government and private sectors. Traditionally, private sources of funding have consisted of philanthropic foundations, but there is potential for collaborating with other sources of private funding, such as venture capitalists. AHRQ might work with other federal agencies, such as the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) or the Center for Disease Control (CDC) to stimulate these new funder collaborations.

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