Implementation of the HEART Pathway: Using the Consolidated Framework for Implementation Research.


OBJECTIVE:The HEART Pathway is an evidence-based decision tool for identifying emergency department (ED) patients with acute chest pain who are candidates for early discharge, to reduce unhelpful and potentially harmful hospitalizations. Guided by the Consolidated Framework for Implementation Research, we sought to identify important barriers and facilitators to implementation of the HEART Pathway. STUDY SETTING:Data were collected at 4 academic medical centers. STUDY DESIGN:We conducted semi-structured interviews with 25 key stakeholders (e.g., health system leaders, ED physicians). We conducted interviews before implementation of the HEART Pathway tool to identify potential barriers and facilitators to successful adoption at other regional academic medical centers. We also conducted postimplementation interviews at 1 medical center, to understand factors that contributed to successful adoption. DATA COLLECTION:Interviews were recorded and transcribed verbatim. We used a Consolidated Framework for Implementation Research framework-driven deductive approach for coding and analysis. PRINCIPAL FINDINGS:Potential barriers to implementation include time and resource burden, challenges specific to the electronic health record, sustained communication with and engagement of stakeholders, and patient concerns. Facilitators to implementation include strength of evidence for reduced length of stay and unnecessary testing and iatrogenic complications, ease of use, and supportive provider climate for evidence-based decision tools. CONCLUSIONS:Successful dissemination of the HEART Pathway will require addressing institution-specific barriers, which includes engaging clinical and financial stakeholders. New SMART-FHIR technologies, compatible with many electronic health record systems, can overcome barriers to health systems with limited information technology resources.





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Publication Info

Gesell, Sabina B, Shannon L Golden, Alexander T Limkakeng, Christine M Carr, Andrew Matuskowitz, Lane M Smith and Simon A Mahler (2018). Implementation of the HEART Pathway: Using the Consolidated Framework for Implementation Research. Critical pathways in cardiology, 17(4). pp. 191–200. 10.1097/hpc.0000000000000154 Retrieved from

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Alexander Tan Limkakeng

Professor of Emergency Medicine

Dr. Alexander T. Limkakeng, Jr., MD, MHSc, FACEP is a Professor of Emergency Medicine, Vice Chair of Clinical Research, Director of the Acute Care Research Team, and Director of the Resident Research Fellowship for the Department of Emergency Medicine in the Duke University School of Medicine in Durham, North Carolina.

Dr. Limkakeng has served as chair of the American College of Emergency Physicians (ACEP) Research Committee, and been the Course Director of the ACEP Research Forum from 2016-2018, the largest emergency medical research platform in the nation. He is also the Assistant Director of ACEP’s Emergency Medicine Basic Research Skills course. He was elected to the Nominating Committee of the Society of Academic Emergency Medicine.

As a researcher, Dr. Limkakeng has led multiple clinical trials and interdepartmental sponsored projects and is author on over 100 peer-reviewed manuscripts. These include studies in emergency conditions such as COVID-19, traumatic brain injury, hypertension, heart failure, thrombosis, stroke, envenomations, and septic shock. His research has been funded by grants and contracts totaling over $9 million dollars. He has lectured internationally on acute coronary syndrome, responsible conduct of research, design of clinical trials, and precision medicine in emergency care. He has led Duke’s involvement in NIH-funded research networks and in industry-funded work that led to FDA approval for multiple high-sensitivity cardiac troponin assays and point-of-care COVID-19 diagnostic tests. He has servesd as Co-PI for the Duke U24 Hub in the NIH Early Phase Pain Investigation Clinical Network (EPPIC-Net) (1U24NS114416) and now serves as a co-PI on the Duke U24 Hub award (1U24NS129498) in the NIH Strategies to Innovate Emergency Care Clinical Trials (SIREN) Network and in the NIH NINDS Strokenet network (1U24NS135250)

His personal research interest is finding new ways to diagnose acute coronary syndrome. In particular, he is interested in novel biomarkers and precision medicine approaches to this problem. The common element throughout this work is a focus on time-sensitive health conditions.

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