The keynote speaker at the Unlocking Research Implementation Science Symposium, University of Michigan Professor Anne Sales, said the introduction of new technologies, procedures and clinical practices is often hampered by the pressures it places on staff.

“The biggest question is ‘how do I manage my time and energy when I have to do all this new stuff – these things that feel like new pressures, expectations and demands?’ That’s not an easy question to answer,” said Professor Sales.

The symposium brought 160 people from academia, health services, government and business to the University of Sydney to discuss how the relatively new discipline of implementation science might be applied to reduce the lengthy time lag between a health or medical research discovery and its introduction into clinical practice.

Professor Sales said the appeal of implementation science is that it provides an intellectual and practical framework for learning from mistakes and proposing how health system changes might be optimised.

“I think there’s a huge interest and appetite amongst health professionals internationally to know how do we fix the problems we have? They want to avoid the stumbles and false starts that accompany so much of change management in health services at the moment.”

It was the second annual Implementation Science Symposium to be jointly organised by Sydney Health Partners and the University of Sydney.

Sydney Health Partners executive director Garry Jennings said that since the first symposium in 2017, interest in the relatively new field had snowballed.

“There’s real demand for this. While very many people are trying to make changes in the health system a lot of us don’t feel we are fully equipped with the background we need to make the changes as effectively and as quickly as we’d like,” he said.

“What we learnt at the symposium is that implementation of evidence into health care doesn’t just happen – there’s a sequence of events required, that involves testing at a small and then a large scale and also understanding the policy settings.

“We believe that the application of implementation science has the potential to remove or reduce some of barriers to effective research translation,” he said.

Sydney Health partners’ Senior Research Fellow in implementation science, Dr Nicole Rankin, said the high level of interest in the symposium was indicative of a change in researcher thinking.

“They’re really keen to engage and to think about how we work with our teams, with our scientists and with our clinicians in a way that’s going to bring about meaningful change.”