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Have you ever had trouble implementing a new initiative into your practice? Have you tried delivering a new service, but it was not as successful as you had hoped?

If this situation seems familiar to you, you are not alone. Being eager to roll up one’s sleeves and offer a new patient service as soon as it is available is not uncommon. Before you jump into implementation, it is important to ensure you are ready, as your service is more likely to fail if you have not taken the time to adequately prepare for it. In fact, failure to establish sufficient readiness prior to implementation accounts for HALF of all unsuccessful organizational change efforts.1

What do we mean by readiness? Readiness is typically defined as your healthcare setting or group’s commitment and collective capability to implement this new service. In other words, are you both willing and able to embrace this change?

  • Do you have sufficient support and buy-in?

  • Do you have the operational structure, workflows, and other processes necessary to successfully integrate the service?

  • Does your staff have the knowledge and skills needed to make this change happen?

  • Is the delivery of this new service a priority for your organization?

These are examples of the types of considerations that you need to think through when preparing to implement a new service (for a complete list, check out our publication here).

To better understand how to assess and build readiness within pharmacy practice, we conducted a study following nine healthcare sites as they delivered new medication optimization initiatives.  Over the course of 9 months, these sites engaged in a process to learn about readiness, assess their own readiness, set readiness goals, and build readiness to deliver their chosen initiative. The project resulted in a number of lessons learned and best practices that should be incorporated into any pharmacy service implementation readiness effort.

  • Assessing and building readiness is a team sport. Generally, sites had a core team who worked on preparing for implementation and pulled in other team members or stakeholders when needed.

  • Although each site had unique readiness challenges, the strategies they used to build readiness tended to be in five areas: 1) building necessary operational infrastructure (such as a data management system) to help integrate the new service within their practice; 2) leveraging the support of their teams and organizational champions; 3) engaging and gaining buy-in from stakeholders; 4) aligning priorities in support of the service; and 5) making use of available implementation supports, such as coaching and peer sharing opportunities.

  • Having access to a structured readiness process and tools (e.g., formal assessment) helped the sites effectively prepare for service delivery.

As the US healthcare system continues to shift toward a value-based system and pharmacists expand their roles within this environment, successful implementation of new pharmacy services that lead to better outcomes is critical. Although it can be tempting to dive straight into implementation, remember that overlooking readiness can be costly, potentially decreasing service impact on patient care.2,3

To learn more about the project discussed here and the application of readiness in pharmacy practice, check out the full article here, available open access in Implementation Science Communications.


  1. Kotter JP. Leading Change. Boston: Harvard Business School Press; 1996.
  2. Weiner BJ. A theory of organizational readiness for change. Implement Sci. 2009;4(1):67. doi:10.1186/1748-5908-4-67
  3. Weiner BJ, Lewis MA, Linnan LA. Using organization theory to understand the determinants of effective implementation of worksite health promotion programs. Health Educ Res. 2009;24(2):292-305.
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