During a public health emergency such as the COVID-19 pandemic, rapid dissemination of information
to clinicians about emerging innovations is critical to ensuring the best outcomes for patients.
However, little is known about how clinicians obtain information about innovations make decisions about
implementation and de-implementation during uncertain times. As SARS-CoV-2 made its initial, rapid spread
across the nation, clinicians feared that the impending surge of critically ill patients would overwhelm capacity,
causing patient deaths due to a lack of ventilators and other essential resources. Additionally, shortages of
personal protective equipment posed a challenge to following the usual standards to protect clinicians from
infection. In a massive response to prevent worst-case scenarios from materializing, emergency department
(ED) staff have rapidly innovated to deliver effective care, protect frontline workers, and ensure a
sustainable supply of personal protective equipment. In response to these unusual conditions, ED
clinicians turned to nontraditional sources of information—for example, Twitter, Facebook, podcasts, and pre-
print journal publications—to learn about innovations they could use to care for COVID-19 patients in EDs.
While these sources of information provided easy access to information about innovations, they also
spread misinformation. Little research has been done to optimize dissemination and implementation of
innovations during a public health emergency. Before the pandemic, an expansion of online platforms
facilitating exchange of information about innovations had already occurred, and many more exist now.
Information is also shared through professional societies and also through social media. But the understanding
of the diffusion of innovations among EDs during the pandemic is currently limited due to the volume of sharing
that happened during COVID-19; the urgency and fear associated with these innovations; and the need for
deimplementation of interventions that were found to be ineffective or even dangerous. It is not clear how these
processed happened and whether they might have differed based on the demographics of ED clinicians or the
communities and populations they serve. A comprehensive evaluation of the flow of innovations will lead
to insights into how disseminators and implementers can improve practices during pandemic and
rapidly evolving emergencies and also how processes can be optimized for more steady-state
conditions. Our study incorporates a strong interdisciplinary and mixed methods approach. Our strong team
will work with study partners representing emergency physicians and nurses and experts in other disciplines in
the ED. Study methods combine advanced natural language processing techniques with interviews (Aim 1),
focus groups with a survey of ED professionals (Aim 2), and systematic synthesis of results to identify
strategies for improving diffusion of ED care innovations (Aim 3). The study will also provide results in
actionable formats, such as a toolkit of dissemination and implementation strategies.