A Place to Land: Building a Global Implementation Learning Network

Ariadne Labs
6 min readDec 8, 2020

By Sue Gullo, RN, MS

Ariadne Labs’ vision is for health systems to deliver the best possible care for every patient, everywhere, every time. This means next door in Boston, Massachusetts, in cities and towns across the US, or globally to the far reaches of the world. At Ariadne Labs, we rigorously develop simple, scalable solutions that address critical gaps in the way health care is delivered.

We know, however, that without an effective implementation plan, even the best designed tools won’t live up to their full potential. Each of our programs at Ariadne Labs has grown significantly over time, with new areas of innovation emerging and more tools constantly being disseminated. With them has grown the need for scalable implementation support to ensure that effective solutions are implemented broadly in ways that can reach every patient.

The Vision for a Virtual Implementation Platform

We’ve long envisioned a virtual platform to support the spread of new ideas, the communication of evidence-based practices, and multidisciplinary networking among a range of professionals. We see such a platform as a key strategy to reaching implementers of all types — and at all stages of implementation — and allowing them to share their ideas, learn from other implementers in the field, and share the setbacks and successes that are all a part of any implementation journey.

Last month, we turned that vision into a reality with the launch of Ariadne Labs’ virtual learning community and implementation support platform, Aria. Aria builds on years of Ariadne’s own implementation expertise, and enhances existing pieces of community that had been built along the way.

To me, this type of platform can be transformative in many ways. Years ago, as a new leader myself seeking ideas different from published clinical research, I was introduced to a website that brought me to a whole new world. I had access to the people who made the change happen at my fingertips, and could learn about improvement, implementation, and change management pragmatically through their success and failures. I felt a sense of belonging in this community, and I learned to learn from failure. It changed how I thought about implementation, and connected me with new leadership opportunities. Now, years later, I feel a similar excitement for the potential Aria has to further build a community of implementers and bring people together to share and build knowledge.

Beyond my own experience, evidence has shown that there is immense value in resources that allow for this type of information-sharing across clinical specialties, and that a significant portion of multidisciplinary stakeholders prefer to use social media or networking sites to access this information. The pandemic has only exacerbated the need for virtual tools and training, and our global footprint requires synchronous and asynchronous learning, pragmatic learning from implementers, and the ability to provide a learning exchange that connects people in ways that otherwise would not be possible.

A 2016 article by Rolls, Hansen, et al. describes the most common reasons for establishing a discrete virtual community:

  1. Create a professional forum where relevant professional and academic issues could be discussed and information and knowledge shared
  2. Address professional isolation
  3. Facilitate networking
  4. Foster peer collaboration and mentoring
  5. Facilitate professional development
  6. Improve clinical practice through research and evidence translation
  7. Obtain clinical advice or opinion

Building a Community

Aria’s development has unfolded over the course of several years. In 2015, Ariadne’s core programs at the time — BetterBirth, Safe Surgery, and Serious Illness Care — were working to develop learning communities that would bring together professionals from diverse backgrounds working to address similar implementation challenges. The initial focus, led by the Serious Illness Care team, was on a resource developed as a continuing medical education (CME) tool to provide training on communication skills and the implementation of the Serious Illness Care Program. At the same time as the CME course, the Community of Practice, an online learning community, was initiated as a means of sharing implementation knowledge and developing and nurturing a community of stakeholders learning together.

Our virtual Communities of Practice have long allowed participants the freedom to connect and participate on their terms — passively or actively, alone or in groups or with organizations — and to take the information, decide to adopt or adapt, and then form a plan to implement it. Now, we’ve taken these communities one step further in launching Aria as a place to seek ideas, to find other people who know there may be better ways to do things, to become part of something that is bigger than themselves, or to seek what they cannot find in their own organization.

The Implementation Pathway

Aria offers guidance on an implementation pathway that begins at the adoption of a new idea and ends with sustainability over time. Learning about a new idea is one thing, but being able to make it happen — and keeping it going long-term — is another. This is a key pathway where many implementation toolkits fall short. The critical components of the preparation phase are often not described. This knowledge is embedded into Aria, allowing users to asynchronously ask of colleagues at different stages of implementation who have stood in their shoes, how did you get started, who did you reach out to test a new idea with, does this work, and if so, under what conditions?

Aria offers resources to describe the core work of building an implementation team, early testing in the field, and engaging leaders and frontline staff and provides tools that can be shared to make it easier to do the right thing. Aria provides a means to get the story that built the results, with support from other implementers who have tried and learned from success or failures to guide the way.

The Path Forward

By launching Aria in a way that is accessible to all members of the global implementation community, we see an opportunity of continuous improvement for the platform itself, for our members in their implementation journeys, and for our tools. We want to share this platform with members around the world so that we can learn and improve the platform, and provide a continuous feedback loop of learning under a variety of conditions. It is important for Ariadne to continue to learn from those in the field who are testing our tools — do they work as our research has shown they would? Do they work best under specific circumstances? How do they impact patients and improve the care they receive at critical moments throughout every stage of the health care journey?

Aria’s potential is best met when it can bring together a broad, diverse set of implementers from different clinical specialties, different contexts, different countries, and different backgrounds. Join Aria today to become part of this growing global community of implementers. Learn from like-minded individuals or groups from across the globe, access free implementation resources, and join us in our vision to deliver the best possible care, for every patient, everywhere, every time.

Susan Gullo, RN, MS brings extensive health care and implementation experience to her role at Ariadne Labs as the Platform Director of Implementation. In this role she leads a team whose goal is to accelerate the implementation of the solutions Ariadne Labs creates to improve the quality of health care people receive at the most critical moments of their lives.

Ms. Gullo has led the strategic design and implementation of large-scale patient safety work in multiple contexts across the globe, including the United Kingdom, Denmark, Singapore and India. Her clinical experience as a nurse includes many years as a frontline nurse and in leadership roles in maternal child health, medical-surgical, and hospice nursing.

Illustration by ilyast / iStock

Ariadne Labs

Our mission is to create scalable health care solutions that deliver better care at the most critical moments in people's lives, everywhere.