Factors affecting the implementation of complex and evolving technologies: multiple case study of intensity-modulated radiation therapy (IMRT) in Ontario, Canada
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BACKGROUND: Research regarding the decision to adopt and implement technological innovations in radiation oncology is lacking. This is particularly problematic since these technologies are often complex and rapidly evolving, requiring ongoing revisiting of decisions regarding which technologies are the most appropriate to support. Variations in adoption and implementation decisions for new radiation technologies across cancer centres can impact patients' access to appropriate and innovative forms of radiation therapy. This study examines the key steps in the process of adopting and implementing intensity modulated radiation therapy (IMRT) in publicly funded cancer centres and identifies facilitating or impeding factors. METHODS: A multiple case study design, utilizing document analysis and key informant interviews was employed. Four cancer centres in Ontario, Canada were selected and interviews were conducted with radiation oncologists, medical physicists, radiation therapists, and senior administrative leaders. RESULTS: Eighteen key informants were interviewed. Overall, three centres made fair to excellent progress in the implementation of IMRT, while one centre achieved only limited implementation as of 2009. Key factors that influenced the extent of IMRT implementation were categorized as: 1) leadership, 2) training, expertise and standardization, 3) collaboration, 4) resources, and 5) resistance to change. CONCLUSION: A framework for the adoption and implementation of complex and evolving technologies is presented. It identifies the key factors that should be addressed by decision-makers at specific stages of the adoption/implementation process.
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