In general terms, implementation can be defined as the set of activities that put a program into practice.
More specifically, (as in the Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute [PCORI] implementation framework), implementation can be defined as:
… the deliberate, iterative process of integrating evidence into policy and practice through adapting evidence to different contexts and facilitating behavior change and decision-making based on evidence across individuals, communities, and healthcare systems. [Esposito, Heeringa, Bradley, Croake, & Kimmey, 2015, p. 30.]
Achieving positive outcomes for an evidence-based program in a real-world setting—for a program that has been shown by rigorous research to have positive outcomes in one or more controlled settings—requires careful attention to implementing it in your setting.
Improving services is influenced as much by the process of implementing evidence-based programs as by the specific practices selected for implementation. [Aarons, Hurlburt, & Horwitz, 2011]
When implementing your own program, you may find that using implementation steps and frameworks created by leading researchers and practitioners can help you implement and sustain the program with quality.
Additional terms on implementation appear in the NREPP Glossary.