Roundtable asks ‘how can we do implementation better in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health care'?

22 March 2013

Leading implementation experts, researchers, policy makers, and on-the-ground implementers of health innovations came together at a national roundtable in Brisbane on 22 March 2013 to focus on the implementation of new programs and practices in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health care.Implementation is the process of getting a ‘new better way’ of doing something into routine use. Effective implementation enables a person or organisation to take up a ‘new better way’ of doing things by making the process as efficient and painless as possible, while achieving the best possible outcome. Good implementation can also help avoid wasting time and resources or ‘reinventing the wheel’, and help Close the Gap more quickly.To help build an evidence base about effective implementation, the Lowitja Institute commissioned the Menzies School of Health Research to carry out a research project, Implementation of Innovations in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Care. So far, the project has included a review of the academic literature on implementation in health care generally, and how that literature might be relevant in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health contexts. Last week’s roundtable extended that work by getting input from practitioners, policy makers and program managers.Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Justice Commissioner Mick Gooda facilitated the roundtable, which brought together almost 40 international and national stakeholders who were eager to share their knowledge of what is going well in the implementation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health care, and what could be done better.

Highlights of the roundtable included:

Priorities for further research and action were identified, including the importance of:

  • Recognising different viewpoints and forms of evidence and knowledge in selecting and implementing ‘new better ways of doing things’
  • Taking a collaborative approach to planning and doing implementation
  • Learning from each other and supporting innovation exchange
  • Building enabling systems and the capacity of organisations to implement change
  • Communicating change with a clear program logic of what is being done and why
  • Understanding what the local context means for the process of innovation
  • Applying and upholding basic principles of social justice

In wrapping up the roundtable, Mick Gooda said: ‘We asked the question ‘Can we do implementation better?’ I think what we’ve heard today is that we don’t have a choice – we have to do implementation better. And that we can do it.’Roundtable participants will work further with the Implementation of Innovations research team to refine the roundtable outcomes and integrate them with the existing evidence about implementation. A full report on the roundtable will be made available to all participants..

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Created: 28 March 2013 - Updated: 10 December 2014