• Hospital Elder Life Program;
  • diffusion;
  • clinical innovation;
  • geriatrics


To describe the process of adoption of an evidence-based, multifaceted, innovative program into the hospital setting, with particular attention to issues that promoted or impeded its implementation. This study examined common challenges faced by hospitals implementing the Hospital Elder Life Program (HELP) and strategies used to address these challenges.

Design: Qualitative study design based on in-depth, open-ended telephone interviews.

Setting: Nine hospitals implementing HELP throughout the United States.

Participants: Thirty-two key staff members (physician, nursing, volunteer, and administrative staff) who were directly involved with the HELP implementation.

Measurements: Staff experiences implementing the program, including challenges and strategies they viewed as successful in overcoming challenges of implementation.

Results: Six common challenges faced hospital staff: (1) gaining internal support for the program despite differing requirements and goals of administration and clinical staff, (2) ensuring effective clinician leadership, (3) integrating with existing geriatric programs, (4) balancing program fidelity with hospital-specific circumstances, (5) documenting positive outcomes of the program despite limited resources for data collection and analysis, and (6) maintaining the momentum of implementation in the face of unrealistic time frames and limited resources. Strategies perceived to be successful in addressing each challenge are described.

Conclusion: Translating research into clinical practice is challenging for staff across disciplines. Developing strategies to address common challenges identified in this study may facilitate the adoption of innovative programs within healthcare organizations.