Can a national charity deliver a robust guideline development programme as well as a comprehensive implementation programme in the challenging federated health system of Australia? The National Stroke Foundation started coordinating national stroke guidelines in 2002 but soon realised developing guidelines, while fundamental, was only one of the many jigsaw pieces needed to see real improvements in the clinical care for stroke. The Foundation learnt from other national and international models of successful implementation programmes and embarked on closing the guidelines-practice gap for stroke by leading the first national stroke audit and then developing the ‘StrokeLink’ programme. The StrokeLink programme involves facilitated workshops of hospital based stroke teams, use of the audit data to identify gaps, consensus development processes to choosing gaps and consider barriers and enablers, assist teams to develop action plans to close the evidence-practice gaps and use audit data to assess changes in practice. This presentation will provide a real life example of what can be achieved by a small, dedicated team passionate about improving stroke care in Australia. Qualitative and quantitative results will be presented of the effects of the StrokeLink programme. In additional, elements of the Foundation’s implementation strategies, their history and future directions will be presented focusing on key barriers and enablers at both a strategic and operational level.
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