The National Resource Center for Academic Detailing (NaRCAD) is an initiative supported by an Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) grant housed in the Division of Pharmacoepidemiology and Pharmacoeconomics in the Department of Medicine at Brigham and Women’s Hospital and Harvard Medical School. Our goal is to promote the use of evidence-based medicine by supporting programs of academic detailing.
Importance of Academic Detailing
Despite the availability of a growing body of comparative effectiveness research (CER) weighing the risks and benefits of therapies in a wide range of clinical areas, non-evidence-based medical care is common. “Academic detailing” was pioneered by our team 30 years ago as a method of educational outreach that provides prescribers with accurate, non-commercial, and relevant data on medications in a user-friendly, interactive format that is proven to change practice. Given its well documented effectiveness, many organizations are interested in implementing academic detailing programs of their own, but require additional expertise and support to do so.
How NaRCAD Works
NaRCAD provides organizations with support and guidance in establishing new academic detailing programs, as well as evaluating and improving existing ones.
- The Center works with partner organizations to perform a needs assessment of their current patterns of medical care and lay the groundwork for establishing academic detailing programs.
- Our core staff and clinical specialty consultants adapt AHRQ’s CER findings for important clinical areas (including diabetes, use of anti-psychotic drugs in dementia, pain control in arthritis) into tools that can be used for effective academic detailing.
- The center provides training sessions on the principles of social marketing, techniques of academic, and the clinical content of the adapted CER findings. These sessions will be offered on multiple occasions over the coming months and years.
- NaRCAD works with each partner organization to evaluate its academic detailing activities across multiple dimensions. We collaborate with programs to gather qualitative data on the process of implementation, the quality of training, and the experiences of clinicians receiving the academic detailing messages. The resource center also provides guidance to participating programs on performing patient-level assessments of the impact of their interventions.
Guidance on the establishment of detailing programs, training on the techniques and content of academic detailing, assistance in the evaluation of program effectiveness and the provision of adapted AHRQ review material will help organizations to transform evidence-based information into improved patient-care decisions. These organizations serve diverse patient populations, including vulnerable and underserved patients likely to benefit the most.
Network for Academic Detailing
NaRCAD is establishing a network of organizations seeking to implement the findings of AHRQ’s CER work in their own settings. Organizations that have already implemented academic detailing or other innovative educational program are welcome to partner with NaRCAD and to take advantage of the training and resources that the center provides. NaRCAD aims to create a community of programs using academic detailing to disseminate non-commercial, evidence-based information on the benefits and risks of treatment options. This sharing of ideas will enable us and partner organizations to identify best practices that lead to successful academic detailing programs, as well as pitfalls to avoid. By sharing information in this manner, NaRCAD will facilitate the development and improvement of academic detailing programs nationwide.