By Anna Morgan-Barsamian, MPH, RN, PMP, Senior Manager, Training & Education, NaRCAD
An interview with Sandeep (Sonny) Singh Bains, PharmD, BCPS, Clinical Educator, Alosa Health. Alosa Health is a national leader in developing and implementing academic detailing programs to improve prescribing.
Tags: Detailing Visits, Evidence-Based Medicine, Primary Care, Training
Anna: Hi, Sonny! It’s wonderful to connect with you today and hear about your work as a clinical educator at Alosa Health. What has your clinical pharmacist journey looked like to date?
Sonny: I’ve been working for over a decade in hospitals and primary care. I completed my residency in hospital pharmacy, and as I continued to do administrative and clinical work in hospitals, my interests shifted more towards primary care and population health.
I’m originally from California where it’s common to have pharmacy involved in primary care. When I moved to Pennsylvania, a lot of clinicians didn’t understand why a pharmacist would be in a primary care setting and were skeptical of me and my role within the clinic.
Fast-forward 10 years, and almost every health system in Philadelphia has a pharmacist on their team within their primary care network. I’d like to think that I can take a little bit of credit for paving the way for pharmacists on primary care teams throughout our state!
Anna: That’s definitely something to be proud of. How did you end up being a detailer?
Sonny: I’d been noticing a lot of overlap in the work being done in our primary care clinics by different members of the team. I ended up creating protocols to automate certain things for different chronic conditions and people would say, “Wow, this is brilliant.” It really wasn’t brilliant; I was using the same set of guidelines in the literature I was reading and was communicating that to clinicians to make workflows easier.
I didn’t know about the strategy of academic detailing at the time, but I knew I needed to educate clinicians. I was fortunate enough to be connected with Alosa Health and I now work for them as a full-time consultant. I work as a detailer and also help hire, interview, train, coach, and mentor new detailers on the team.
Anna: You were meant to be a detailer before you even knew what it was! Alosa has been working on diverse clinical topics over the years including, antiplatelets, atrial fibrillation, immunizations for elderly, serious illness conversations, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), heart failure, dementia, atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease (ASCVD) prevention, diabetes, acute pain, chronic pain, and opioid use disorder. What have been some of the campaigns where you’ve felt you’ve made an impact?
Sonny: It’s a lot of fun to be working on so many different campaigns. Many of the topics fit right into my wheelhouse with my hospital and primary care background. Diabetes has been my favorite topic. I’ve been able to make a large impact for patients and care providers. We’re able to improve lives of patients (prevention of stroke/heart attacks) and improve outcomes for providers and health systems (financial incentives, quality ratings, etc.).
I’m also proud to be part of the pain modules. The opioid epidemic has impacted all of us in America and I’m glad to be able to do my part in helping to bring resources and evidence-based treatment to local providers in our community.
Anna: It sure sounds like you’ve been able to make an impact! How has your work with Alosa evolved over the years?
Sonny: Alosa Health has been expanding and we have several new partnerships and collaborations throughout the United States. We started detailing only in the state of Pennsylvania and we’ve now expanded to numerous states. It’s been exciting to be part of the leadership team to help coach detailers, as well as create creative partnerships with local health systems to improve outcomes for patients.
Anna: What challenges have come up as your program has continued to expand?
Sonny: The biggest barrier we’ve experienced, like many detailing programs, has been access to clinicians and the ability to set up visits. I’ve had relationships with clinicians and clinic staff in the past where I could have walked into any office at any given time, but I’ve lost a lot of those relationships with COVID and staff turnover. I’ve been working hard to reestablish relationships in the field and teach new detailers how important strong relationships are to our work as detailers.
Anna: What approaches have you taken to reestablish relationships, as well as to gain access to new clinics?
Sonny: I like to partner with colleagues that I’ve worked with previously. I recently connected with a former colleague who’s a VP at a large healthcare organization and we quickly realized we could help each other improve patient outcomes and reduce cost. From this connection, I was able to get buy-in at the administrative level and accessed hundreds of prescribers. They even gave their clinicians a monetary incentive to meet with our detailers.
We’ve also benefitted from connecting with administrators of health systems. We approach them like business partners; it takes a special skill to communicate and work with an administrator. It’s important to have team members who understand how to communicate with leadership effectively to get that buy-in.
Anna: It might take more time to get buy-in from administrators, but it opens so many doors once it’s done successfully. As we wrap up, can you tell us some tips to help our readers be effective detailers and communicators?
Anna: It’s so important to put the work in to build solid relationships with clinicians in order to be an effective detailer. Thanks for joining us on the DETAILS blog, Sonny - our AD community will gain a lot from the insights you’ve shared today!
Learn more about Alosa’s work: alosahealth.org/clinical-modules
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Biography. Sandeep is a clinical pharmacist with extensive clinical leadership experience in both acute care and ambulatory healthcare settings. He completed post-graduate training at Einstein Medical Center in Philadelphia and has since worked in clinical pharmacy leadership with large healthcare systems in the greater Philadelphia area. He is also the principal consultant at Bains Rx, LLC, a healthcare consulting firm dedicated to improving outcomes while reducing costs.
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