The Role of the Champion in Primary Care Change Efforts: From the State Networks of Colorado Ambulatory Practices and Partners (SNOCAP)

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Change champions are important for moving new innovations through the phases of initiation, development, and implementation. Although research attributes positive health care changes to the help of champions, little work provides details about the champion role.


Using a combination of immersion/crystallization and matrix techniques, we analyzed qualitative data, which included field notes of team meetings, interviews, and transcripts of facilitator meetings, from a sample of 8 practices.


Our analysis yielded insights into the value of having 2 discrete types of change champions: (1) those associated with a specific project (project champions) and (2) those leading change for entire organizations (organizational change champions). Relative to other practices under study, those that had both types of champions who complemented each other were best able to implement and sustain diabetes care processes. We provide insights into the emergence and development of these champion types, as well as key qualities necessary for effective championing.


Practice transformation requires a sustained improvement effort that is guided by a larger vision and commitment and assures that individual changes fit together into a meaningful whole. Change champions—both project and organizational change champions—are critical players in supporting both innovation-specific and transformative change efforts.

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