This interview features Carla Foster, MPH, who leads the conceptualization, implementation, and evaluation of Public Health Detailing as an Epidemiologist within the Bureau of Alcohol and Drug Use Prevention, Care and Treatment (BADUPCT) at the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene (NYC DOHMH). She is currently activated for the COVID-19 emergency response as Lead Analyst managing the Reporting Unit within the Integrated Data Team of DOHMH’s Incident Command System.
By Winnie Ho, Program Coordinator
Tags: Data, Detailing Visits, Evidence-Based Medicine, Health Disparities, Program Management, Stigma, Substance Use, Training
Winnie: Hi Carla! You’ve certainly had a lot on your plate with so many diverse campaigns. Can you walk us through the conceptualization process for your detailing campaigns, and how your team came to choose cocaine use as your current detailing topic?
Carla: We can start with some data on this. In 2018, more New Yorkers died from drug overdose than from homicide, suicide, and motor vehicle crashes combined. Cocaine – in both crack and powder forms – has played an increasingly prominent role in this crisis. The mortality rate from overdose deaths involving cocaine more than doubled between 2014 to 2018, amounting to 52% of all drug overdose deaths in NYC. Some of the associated risks are serious - increased exposure risk to fentanyl, cardiovascular disease events and death.
W: That’s stunning data. Especially in the midst of the opioid crisis, it’s important that we don’t lose sight of other substance use issues going on right now. I’d love to learn a little more about the challenges and lessons that your team has learned by detailing on cocaine use.
C: First, we have to be aware that fentanyl, a powerful opioid 50 to 100 times stronger than morphine may be found in many substances, including cocaine. We’re very concerned about fentanyl and cocaine because people who use cocaine do not have tolerance to opioids and are at even higher risk for overdose.
It’s also important to address the perception of who is most impacted by high mortality rates. There’s this idea that cocaine use is more prominent in younger populations, but our data show that it’s actually impacting an older population more than many might expect. In particular, residents age 55-84 in the Bronx Borough have experienced the largest increase in cocaine overdose death rates in New York City from 2014 to 2018.
That’s why it’s critical for us to raise awareness in an effort to mitigate misconceptions and stigma around risky use and those who may have a substance use disorder (SUD). In addition to shame, there are still very real potential socioeconomic and legal consequences from disclosing substance use, which can deter folks from even seeking help.
We take into account the unjust consequences of policies applied unevenly according to race, and how this impacts implicit biases in terms of which patients are thought to use substances, which types of substances they might use and even more critically, which type of treatment, if any, they are offered. Implicit biases combine with the effects of systemic racism to compound these consequences. It’s important to note that it’s not race that drives poor health outcomes, but racism.
W: Challenging stigma is one of the most powerful ways that detailing campaigns can combat the damage done by the War on Drugs, because stigma can make the difference of whether or not people receive dignified care. With a campaign so focused on addressing stigma and with a topic this important, how do you prepare your detailers for this task?
C: We devote a significant amount of time towards training our detailing reps – a week-long training, 8 hours a day. We spend a large amount of that time talking in detail about stigma as related to cocaine use. It’s critical to us that our detailers are comfortable and knowledgeable when speaking about this topic, because it sets the tone for the providers who then set the tone for their patients.
We ensure that our representatives are prepared to respond to a wide range of questions or comments, because this builds the provider-detailer relationship and enhances the value of the detailing visit. We’ve found during our follow-up visits that this support has led to high provider engagement with the campaign and providers reporting incorporation of the key recommendations into their daily practice, which is the aim of our public health detailing campaigns.
W: How have providers responded when detailed on a topic that carries so much stigma?
C: The good news is that we’ve found NYC healthcare providers to not only be receptive to our work on substance use, but they’re eager to partner with us to support their patients once they learn about the severity of the issue.
Our team provides statistics that relate to the provider’s specific neighborhoods and specialty, giving them real-time pictures of what’s happening with the patients they see. We know that it’s still a difficult topic to bring up, so we help address this with our action kit resources on stigmatic language and counter-top brochures that signal to patients that the provider’s office is a safe place to discuss these issues.
W: It gives me tremendous hope to hear about that there’s been enthusiastic response from providers. It means that things are changing.
Let’s also talk a bit about program sustainability. Your team has worked extensively on campaigns across multiple topics. What have you learned from implementing past campaigns?
C: Each public health detailing campaign is different, but we’ve learned some key strategies that support the growth and success of subsequent campaigns:
Our overall goal is to do everything we possibly can to improve the health of our fellow New Yorkers. I like to remind our detailers of this James Baldwin quote that informs our public health detailing mission: “Not everything that is faced can be changed, but nothing can be changed until it is faced.”
Have thoughts on our DETAILS Blog posts?
You can head on over to our Discussion Forum to continue the conversation!
Carla Foster, MPH is an Epidemiologist at the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene (NYC DOHMH). Her research focuses on the implementation and evaluation of public health detailing campaigns across New York City with the aim of reducing overdose mortality. Prior to joining the NYC DOHMH, she led development of clinical practice guidelines at the American Urological Association. She received dual Bachelor of Arts degrees in Africana Studies and Neuroscience from Wellesley College. Carla also obtained her Master of Public Health Degree in Epidemiology from Columbia University.
By: Winnie Ho, Program Coordinator
2020 was a year of many hard-earned lessons. We’re so fortunate to have an AD community that’s committed to sharing best practices, tips, and experiences. This communal knowledge base is what makes us stronger and allows us to all grow together.
Here’s a collection of the great advice some of our DETAILS Best Practice Blog and Discussion Forum guests have given us this past year:
Tags: Detailing Visits, Evaluation, Program Management
Planning and Team Building:
"The most critical thing is to allow enough time for the planning process – ideally, 18 months before you’re looking to launch. This allows you to gather resources, make partnerships internally and externally. If you can reach out to colleagues in the field, learn about what are good mistakes to avoid. It’ll save you a lot of time!"
-Carla Foster, NYC Dept. of Health and Mental Hygiene (NYC DOHMH)
"My best tip would be to create a standard operating procedure (SOP) or some type of guidebook for your visits. Our team developed an SOP which discusses how to conduct a needs assessment, conversational tips, how to weave in key messages, and how to address barriers. Developing the SOP really allowed me to understand the intricacies that need to be addressed before launching the campaign. It works as a such a good practice guide, and you can always refer back to it whenever you need it."
-Julie Anne Bell, NYC Dept. of Health and Mental Hygiene (NYC DOHMH)
"One thing I’ve learned about AD is that it’s only as effective as your intervention across an entire system. Any work that I’m doing is irrelevant unless I’m addressing the culture of the entire system. If the front desk staff isn’t on board, or the clinical staff isn’t a believer, or the CEO doesn’t understand – there will be challenges that will be harder to overcome."
-Andrew Suchocki, Clackamas County, Oregon, Medical Director
"Building relationships with key stakeholders has made all the difference. They’ve helped me curate my detailing aids and key messages, and have even allowed me to practice my detailing sessions with them."
-Kelsey Bolton, Gundersen Health System, Wisconsin
"A strong team is an important part of a detailing campaign. Strong teamwork means supporting each other through tough detailing sessions, communicating well, and keeping a positive attitude. During virtual times, turning the camera on during staff meetings can also help keep the team spirit alive!"
-Marlys LeBras, RxFiles Academic Detailing Service in Saskatchewan, Canada
"There are numerous external pressures when it comes to AD, but the most important part is keeping the human aspect in check when reaching out to providers. We can get bogged down into the guide posts, the bench posts, or the numbers – but the COVID-19 era reminds us that it’s all about empathy."
-Tara Hensle, University of Illinois at Chicago/Illinois ADVANCE
"You may find it helpful to create an e-Detailing materials packet and see if you can grab some time with providers over a virtual platform. It can be a helpful foot-in-the-door for future in-person detailing!"
-Jess Alward, New Hampshire Division of Public Health, Dept. of Health and Human Services
"Lunch time is still the best time for visits. They were the most popular when I did it, and they’re still the most popular now, as my team tells me."
-Terryn Naumann, British Columbia Provincial Academic Detailing (BC PAD) Service
Conducting Field Visits:
"There’s a lot of listening that happens in AD. You might spend all this time learning about the topic before you meet the providers, but if you take the time to really listen to them, you might learn more than you came with. There is so much to learn from all the incredible people you meet in AD."
-Debra Rowett, Drug and Therapeutics Information Service (DATIS) in South Australia
"The big thing I’ve learned through networking with detailers is to be flexible and be prepared for any situation, especially in the virtual environment. You might have one idea of how your session will go, and it could go in the opposite direction, which is part of the charm of detailing. Also, practice mock detailing with your colleagues!"
-Vishal Kinkhabwala, Michigan Dept. of Health and Human Services
"It’s important to have several different ways of presenting information to providers and to use varied approaches to barriers or objections that come up. I typically focus on emotional connection, financial concerns, and the evidence behind the key messages I’m delivering."
-Brandon Mizroch, Louisiana Dept. of Health
"No visit is ‘one-size-fits-all’. You need to consider the provider, their situation, and their environment and decide what will be the best way to deliver the evidence. It’s critical that you’re attentive to the provider you’re detailing and that you continue to focus on the needs assessment at all times."
-Mary Liz Doyle-Tadduni, Alosa Health in Pennsylvania
"I was delivering an in-person visit, and the skeptical questions about AD from the provider kept coming. I tried not to be defensive, but I answered everything I could. Eventually, the provider allowed me to get to the topic, and that changed everything! By the end of the visit, the opposition took an about-turn. I gained a professional friend and ally and ended up seeing this person with virtually every topic over the next 20 years. Never write someone off because of some seemingly extreme pushback – you just never know!"
-Loren Regier, Centre for Effective Practice (CEP) and Canadian Academic Detailing Collaboration (CADC)
"Confidence is key. You can study and practice everything with your team, but at some point you have to get out there and just do it! You have something valuable to offer and a few opportunities a year to capitalize on that value. A strong relationship can overcome a difference in clinical background or even a rough start. It just takes enough of your effort to show that you’re really there to be of service. Remember, you wouldn’t have been hired in this role if you weren’t qualified!"
-Amanda Kennedy, Vermont Academic Detailing Program
"When addressing stigma, it’s important to note that tough conversations can produce some cognitive dissonance in people. All providers are human. They care about their patients. What helps is not overwhelming them with data, but repeated snippets of information over time to help reinforce the message."
-Elisabeth Mock, Maine Independent Clinical Information Service (MICIS)
"Don’t be afraid to ask for a specific behavior change and remember to follow up to make sure that change occurs. The ‘ask’ can be hard for detailers, so I always tell them to frame it as, “based on what you’ve heard today, what is one thing you’d do differently?”
-Tony de Melo, Alosa Health in New England
Data Collection & Evaluation:
"We encourage providers to complete a post-visit survey. We ask them to share their level of agreement that they were given new/different information, and they intend to implement practice changes as a result of AD conversations."
-Jacki Travers, Pharmacy Management Consultants in Oklahoma
"It’s important to track a mix of quantitative and qualitative data, and the critical components that should be tracked are the outcomes and the process of detailing. Data is absolutely critical for getting leadership buy-in, especially if it can tell a story."
-Kristefer Stojanovski, San Francisco Dept. of Public Health
"Once you’ve identified the problem you’re addressing and done the work to understand it, jump in! AD works!"
-Jennifer Pruskowski, University of Pittsburgh Medical Center
Thank you to the AD community for your resilience, compassion, and incredible work through a tumultuous year. We hope the AD community continues to share its pearls of wisdom with us through the new year. We are excited by all the progress made in 2020, and look forward to a brighter 2021 with you all.
The NaRCAD Team
An interview with Debra Rowett, BPharm, Adv Prac Pharm, FPS, the Director of the Drug and Therapeutics Information Service (DATIS) in Adelaide, Australia. Debra joins Winnie Ho, NaRCAD Program Coordinator in a two-part conversation about a 30-year career of pioneering academic detailing in Australia and reflects on the past, the present, and the future of the field. In Part Two, we discuss the evolution of academic detailing as the world of healthcare changes. You can read Part One here.
Tags: Detailing Visits, Evidence-Based Medicine, International, Medications, Program Management
Winnie: You wear so many hats when it comes to AD. How have those roles changed over your time with DATIS?
Debra: Before I was Director of DATIS, my role was primarily around developing our detailing materials, and evaluating the evidence and our program. I was always interested in the synthesis of evidence and turning that into value for clinicians. I was a clinical pharmacist who was working with people across many disciplines, and there was a growing body of evidence, but translating that into practice was always a challenge.
W: I think you touch on a fundamental aspect of AD – that we turn evidence into value, and that we translate all this research into action. It’s very critical that AD continues to provide that independent, trusted, unbiased source of information to ensure evidence is disseminated responsibly and utilized properly.
D: I would agree with that, very much. We live in an information-dense era and much of the information is synthesized and aggregated at the population-level, but clinicians are responsible for decisions at the individual patient level. I think AD is about bringing evidence to the point at which clinical decision making is made.
W: I’m curious about your experience with evaluating evidence for AD materials. It’s clearly a difficult, but super important aspect of AD. You have all these clinicians who are trying their best to make the best possible decision for their patient – and AD comes in, and in many ways, helps share in that responsibility.
D: Evaluating evidence is also about recognizing what we don’t know in the evidence. When reviewing the evidence for an AD program, we look for where there are gaps in the evidence, where there’s controversies, and differences in opinion about the evidence. No matter how well done, you make choices along that entire process about what to include, what to exclude – and even with the synthesized evidence, there is still human judgement about how to use it.
W: Right, and that human judgement also needs to focus on how that evidence came to be and how it was produced.
D: Absolutely. As we know evidence-based medicine is not just about the randomized controlled trials and published evidence, it’s about the intersection of published evidence, clinical judgement, and the patient’s specific needs, goals, and circumstances. The real opportunity for AD is that you can personalize this information for the provider to work with.
W: It’s extraordinarily rewarding work, and it’s a constant process in grappling with the things we don’t know. As someone who has been in this work for a long time and has had to adapt a long-standing AD program to changing guidelines and medical evidence, you’ve likely seen some big shifts in the medical consensus. Take opioids for example – the consensus around the safety of its use has had a dramatic change over the years. How have you adapted when the evidence base can sometimes change quickly within a few years?
D: It’s important that we come to providers with a balanced view, and that we acknowledge with them that there is uncertainty, that there is complexity, and that it isn’t easy to make these decisions with their patients. There’s a lot of things that we don’t know. If you come with too much certainty, you lose credibility because translating evidence into routine clinical practice is complex. Every time a medicine is prescribed for and used by a patient, we’re forecasting how the future will proceed - the exact benefits and harms that a patient will experience are uncertain.
People are living longer and with multimorbidity which presents new medical challenges. We’re seeing more people living with issues like musculoskeletal problems, hypertension, diabetes, renal problems, atrial fibrillation, and surviving their myocardial infarctions. The number of medications that patients take now compared to 30 years ago have increased. There are individual guidelines for each condition, that don’t necessarily take the other comorbidities into account.
The drugs used to treat one issue may lead to treatment conflicts for another condition and needs to be taken into consideration. It’s not just in one area of practice that has changed too, or just our demographics – we’re seeing fewer solo General Practitioners and more team-based practice in Australia. AD needs to take all of that into account when considering how to detail, and also who to detail.
W: Can you explain what you mean by “who to detail”?
D: It’s important to understand who the decision-maker is and what the decision you’re trying to address is – for some of our AD programs it might involve other health professionals; it’s not always the doctor.
W: Right, and this whole of office approach looks at all the players involved in the continuum of care, and acknowledges that they may play a role in how clinical decisions are ultimately made.
D: Yes, and I think this is why AD is even more important now than it was when we first started. It allows us to bridge individual condition silos, and helps providers navigate multimorbidity. Healthcare is never a one-size fits all, even for an individual. Their circumstances and treatment goals can change over the course of their lives. AD can personalize the information and tailor it to the needs of the clinician. AD can also be the conduit between population level evidence and its translation into clinical decision making - that is one of its greatest strengths.
W: NaRCAD has been lucky to see overarching growth of AD programs everywhere, along with all of its exciting new innovations and evolutions. Any final thoughts on AD before we hear from you at our upcoming conference?
D: One of the things I try and impart when teaching the method of AD is to value the knowledge of the person you are detailing. There is a lot of listening that occurs in successful AD if you are truly to meet the needs of the provider you are visiting. If you keep at the very heart of what you do, respect for learning together and hold true to the principles of academic detailing, you will meet incredible people everywhere you go. It makes for a wonderful career.
(Part Two of Two)
Have thoughts on our DETAILS Blog posts?
You can head on over to our Discussion Forum to continue the conversation!
Debra Rowett, BPharm, Adv Prac Pharm, FPS, has led an academic detailing team for over 20 years and is a member of the team which designed, developed and delivered the “Best Practice in Educational Visiting” training for academic detailers in Australia. Debra has worked closely with NPS Medicinewise since their inception and has provided consultancies to other national and international academic detailing programmes. Debra is an experienced academic detailer with expertise in designing, developing, training, implementing and evaluating academic detailing programmes. Debra has served as the President of the Australian Pharmacy Council and is currently the Vice President of the Council of Pharmacy Schools. Debra has worked extensively in the area of quality use of medicines, inter-professional practice, policy and health workforce development in Australia. Debra is a member of the national Drug Utilisation Sub-Committee of the Australian Pharmaceutical Benefits Advisory Committee (PBAC).
‘At the Heart of our Program is Service’: Reflections on 30 years of AD in South Australia (Part One)
An interview with Debra Rowett, BPharm, Adv Prac Pharm, FPS, the Director of the Drug and Therapeutics Information Service (DATIS) in Adelaide, Australia.
Debra joins Winnie Ho, NaRCAD Program Coordinator in a two-part conversation about a 30-year career of pioneering academic detailing in Australia and reflects on the past, the present, and the future of the field. In Part One, we introduce you to DATIS and academic detailing in the Australian context. Stay tuned for Part Two!
Tags: Data, Evidence-Based Medicine, International, Program Management
Winnie: We’re so glad to have a chance to chat with you about your long career in AD, Debra!
Debra: This is a great part of the job, talking to other people in the AD community. It really is a great privilege to be working with academic detailing organizations in different countries. I’ve loved getting to meet and learn from so many different people.
W: I would agree! I’m sure you have some great stories of what it’s like to work internationally in this field.
D: One of the things that it has really highlighted is the nuance of language. At a training workshop in the U.S early in my career, I was saying how we would meet with doctors in their "surgery", and how important it was to meet them in their surgeries close to where they make decisions. The workshop participants really politely said to me, but isn’t surgery a really bad time to detail? Oh! Surgery – I meant their office.
W: We really would have quite a different communication model if we had detailers visiting providers mid-surgical operation! This does gives us a good starting point into discussing how Australian AD is unique. Besides the context of the word "surgery", what else would our non-Australian colleagues need to know about Australia to understand the context of what you do with the Drug and Therapeutics Information Service (DATIS)?
D: I have been involved with DATIS since its formation in 1991. I was a clinical pharmacist at the Repatriation General Hospital, a teaching hospital, when Jerry Avorn’s paper was published. His work on how AD could influence clinical decision making really resonated with us in Adelaide. One of the big things to know about Australia is that we have a National Medicines Policy, which aims to improve positive health outcomes for all Australians through access to and quality use of medicines. DATIS was one of the first programs funded through the Quality Use of Medicines initiative, and in 1998 NPS MedicineWise (formerly the National Prescribing Service) was funded.
W: Australia is enormous - it must be a challenge to cover. What is the geographical coverage of your AD program?
D: South Australia has a population of about 1.4 million people and a vast geographic reach – the furthest of my AD visits is about 800km (500 miles) away from where we are! We work to provide AD to over 85% of all family physicians in South Australia, so about 1,300 General Practitioners (GPs) each year. We provide AD services to aged care, primary care and hospital providers. We also work in partnership with NPS MedicineWise who have implemented AD at the national level.
W: That’s certainly an enormous coverage zone, especially for those core 12 people! How has this work manifested in South Australia?
D: At the heart of our program is service, and we build our program to emphasize that. There are three aspects of DATIS: service delivery of detailing visits, training of detailers, and research. We have a core team of 12 people who carry this work out alongside our colleagues who join us for various projects. Because of our multiple different contracts, the clinicians we provide services to can see us for multiple reasons in a year.
Between visits, providers will ring us with clinical questions about therapeutic issues that have arisen in their practice. We have also developed interprofessional communication training to support interprofessional practice with a focus on pharmacists and physicians. Our AD programs usually seek to address a therapeutic area or clinical issue however a recent AD program we developed with our hospital pharmacy colleagues was to support pharmacist preceptors implement a performance outcome framework based on entrustable professional activities for interns and undergraduate pharmacy students.
W: It's incredible that DATIS has such a focus on this three-pronged approach, because it continues to help push our understanding of best practices in AD through implementation, study, and training others to carry on the work. Can you tell us a little more about the foundation that DATIS is built upon?
D: Behavior change theory and implementation science has informed our work from the outset in 1991, including the development of the training program which was designed in collaboration with psychologists and experienced GP medical educators. Social marketing frameworks, an adult learning approach, the concept of cognitive biases, clinical reasoning all recognize the many interacting and complex influences on behavior. We try to learn from these and apply to the design and implementation of AD.
We also use pharmacopidemiology methods to understand evidence to practice gaps and for evaluation. As AD evolves and changes, something I really emphasize is staying true to the principles of AD – this is a rigorous process.
W: We’re seeing innovations all over the world and across so many clinical topics. Are there any unique innovations that you feel differentiates Australia AD from other AD programs?
D: One innovation that we're exploring is applying the principles of AD to patient behavior change interventions. As part of person-centered care, it is important for patients to understand their medicines, and to be involved and empowered in shared decision making. We haven’t called this work AD, but have applied the principles of AD in this research.
Complex clinical decisions need to be made each and every day by providers, and it's a privilege to be able to bring providers the best available evidence through academic detailing services, part of the power of AD is the adaptability and personalization to providers along the continuum of care. We are seeing the world of healthcare change, and we have so much to learn as it does.
(Part One of Two)
Have thoughts on our DETAILS Blog posts?
You can head on over to our Discussion Forum to continue the conversation!
Debra Rowett,BPharm, Adv Prac Pharm, FPS, has led an academic detailing team for over 20 years and is a member of the team which designed, developed and delivered the “Best Practice in Educational Visiting” training for academic detailers in Australia. Debra has worked closely with NPS Medicinewise since their inception and has provided consultancies to other national and international academic detailing programmes. Debra is an experienced academic detailer with expertise in designing, developing, training, implementing and evaluating academic detailing programmes. Debra has served as the President of the Australian Pharmacy Council and is currently the Vice President of the Council of Pharmacy Schools. Debra has worked extensively in the area of quality use of medicines, inter-professional practice, policy and health workforce development in Australia. Debra is a member of the national Drug Utilisation Sub-Committee of the Australian Pharmaceutical Benefits Advisory Committee (PBAC).
An interview with Tara Hensle, a research coordinator with the University of Illinois - Chicago, School of Pharmacy (UIC) and Illinois ADVANCE (Academic Detailing Visits And New Evidence CEnter).
by Winnie Ho, Program Coordinator
Tags: COVID-19, E-Detailing, Opioid Safety, Program Management, Substance Use
Winnie: Hi Tara! It’s been a crazy year so far, hasn’t it? We want to check in with you and the University of Illinois, Chicago (UIC) team about your experiences in navigating the pandemic. Can you tell us a little more about yourself and your role in the ADVANCE academic detailing team?
Tara: I was hired about 7 months ago as the research coordinator, and it’s been one heck of a 7-month run. The majority of my work is focused on implementation, so I do all the scheduling and outreach to hospitals to talk to providers. I develop and establish relationships with office managers and providers, and I assign detailers to visits.
W: Our team at NaRCAD has been lucky to have worked with the UIC and ADVANCE team for a while through our trainings and your presentations at our conferences and our webinar series, and we’re excited about the research intervention that had been planned. Can you tell us a little bit more about the mission?
T: Our intervention is a CDC-sponsored, three pronged approach that’s built off a pilot program that we started in 2018 for Chicago-land providers. We have a team of about 30 detailers who are now trying to cover as much of the state as possible. We wanted to follow-up with providers to get a sense of whether or not the ‘dosage’ of AD made a difference, but we also wanted to expand the providers we worked with, and to introduce updated topics like the new features of the Illinois PMP or opioid alternatives. The third prong is creating a toolkit to give programs a blueprint and resources of what was effective for us. We would love to make the “how to” of AD more accessible to other groups.
W: Compared to other programs, you have quite a large and robust team at UIC. It must have been difficult for the pandemic to hit right in the middle getting your program launched.
T: It really impacted our recruitment as we had called providers from the end of January through early March 2020. There are a lot of things going on right now. Even a small ask, such as 15 minutes of their day, can feel like a big ask for providers.
W: Right, and interventions are very carefully laid out and planned ahead of time. COVID-19 has disrupted everything – especially those on the frontlines who are both detailing and being detailed. Can you tell us a little bit more about how else the impact on your original plans for the intervention?
T: We had been so focused on ramping up that by the time we hit mid-March, we had many people on deck reaching out to providers. We started hearing “No, we can’t do this right now” or “this is a really bad time” often.
Once the stay-at-home order came through, we stopped contacting offices for about 2 months. We had to sort out so many protocols and even our IRB to make amends for virtual visits. What we’ve found since we’ve resumed virtual visits in May is that there’s a lot of variability – some offices have capacity because they aren’t seeing many patients, while others have providers that have been transferred to hospitals and have no idea when they’ll be available. We’re also talking about layoffs and burn-out and low morale.
W: There are many of considerations on how best to proceed safely right now. One is looking at the impact on the critical work you’ve done on opioid safety. Unfortunately, the pandemic has only exacerbated the overdose epidemic. What progress has been made on your opioid initiative?
T: One of the ways our team has shifted has been moving to virtual visits. We knew that these would have its own difficulties, such as concerns about “no-shows”. But our team is relatively tech-savvy, and now my job is making sure they’re all familiar with how to troubleshoot the technological pieces of virtual visits.
There are a lot of tech issues that can interrupt a visit. So we do mock detailing and have the detailers practice with each other, where we introduce certain needs and obstacles, maybe even a tech problem for instance, we role play a provider not turning on the webcam, or not being able to see your screen. Practice to strengthen adaptability and resilience become important in ensuring the detailers are prepared.
W: There’s definitely no time like right now to test detailing skill and ability to think on your feet! As a research coordinator, what do you think you’ve learned in the past few months?
T: How to be flexible! There are all sorts of external pressures right now to keep our project on track, but the most important part is keeping the human aspect in check. Having some insight and empathy for providers is important to understand what they’re going through. We can get bogged down into the guide posts, the bench posts, or the numbers – but this era reminds us that it’s all about empathy.
W: At the end of the day, we want better for our patients, for our communities, and for health outcomes everywhere, right?
Have thoughts on our DETAILS Blog posts?
You can head on over to our Discussion Forum to continue the conversation!
Tara Hensle is a research project coordinator at the University of Illinois – Chicago for a CDC-funded research study investigating the effectiveness of academic detailing for opioid prescribing. She received her Bachelor of Science in Behavioral Science and Speech Pathology at Purdue University, and has worked in a variety of healthcare research settings before coming to UIC. Since working on this project, she is inspired by academic detailing’s simplicity, versatility, and the variety of topics to which it could be applied.
An interview with Marlys LeBras, PharmD, a clinical pharmacist with RxFiles Academic Detailing Program.
by Winnie Ho, Program Coordinator
Tags: COVID-19, E-Detailing, International, Program Management
Winnie: Thank you for speaking with us today Marlys! Can you tell us a little bit about your work with the RxFiles Academic Detailing team?
Marlys: Absolutely! I’ve been with RxFiles for just over 4 years as an Information Support Pharmacist doing both frontline academic detailing as well as co-leading various academic detailing training sessions, with the most recent being this past April. Our program covers Saskatchewan, Canada, but our website, app, and book are used outside of the province and Canada as well.
W: RxFiles is definitely one of the larger and more established programs we’ve had the honor of partnering with through the years. Can you tell me how maintaining the daily operations of your program have been impacted by COVID-19?
M: One of the bigger things that’s changed for our team has been moving our academic detailing training sessions online for our team of 12 detailers. We had to shorten our two-day in-person training, and shifted to hosting shorter sessions and offering more pre-training day and post-training day webinars to cover all of the content, including “how-to virtually detail”.
W: No matter how well virtual substitutions are planned, it’s not the same as being together. We’re all really missing our colleagues, and it’s heightening a sense of isolation. How do you think your team has adjusted to moving the training online?
M: I think our team adjusted quite well to the training adaptations. We were able to give them enough notice about the shift. What came out from training days is that our team members really do miss being in-person and having that social interaction – even the chit-chat in between sessions. For in-person trainings, we typically have time for a team-building activity in the evening where people catch up. We’ve been trying to incorporate more games and fun into our virtual training to have that social aspect. Personally, I really miss debriefing with colleagues in-person after detailing visits.
W: It seems like keeping the team connected is a big part of your team culture. How has your team stayed connected through the pandemic?
M: We typically do a roundtable at the mid-point of a detailing topic. We typically go around and share a little bit about our detailing experiences. Pre-COVID, no one wanted to turn on their cameras. It was never a requirement, but now everyone is turning them on. It’s been really nice just seeing people’s faces. Also, one of the things that’s been nice about going virtual is that we are able to open up staff meetings and invite more detailers to participate with us. We would have never been able to do that as easily in person.
W: We’ve seen opportunities like these spring up as teams need to be particularly innovative under tough circumstances that prevent in-person connection. Speaking of teams, dream teams don’t come out of nowhere. A lot of work goes into creating and maintaining a strong, positive, and connected team. At NaRCAD, we talk a lot about what makes a good detailer, but what are some of the hallmarks of a strong detailing team?
M: Team work is a really interesting thing to dive into. I reflected on this question, and think that a strong detailing team supports one another. That support can be helping each other out in the detailing session itself (e.g. co-detailing), or through communicating with each other about the providers we serve and in between detailing sessions (e.g. a prescriber moved from one detailing area to another). We want the team to be successful in moving towards our goals together. Another thing that COVID brought to my attention is that a strong detailing team also has a positive attitude. I really feel that during our transitions, everyone has been really positive and embraced the changes.
W: You’ve shared a lot of examples of how your team regularly communicates at various points during a detailing campaign, which shows a culture of checking in and making sure no detailer is left out. Can you speak a little about how that culture’s been built up at RxFiles and how you maintain it?
M: I think Loren Regier, who is in charge of Projects, Transitions and Training, has been such an asset in the development of our program, has really emphasized checking in. He really showed us the value of that, and not only does he talk about it, he has made it very easy for someone to approach him and talk about how the detail went, both the successes and challenges.
W: Having access to mentorship, and making sure a team-based approach is emphasized by leadership is key. It’s clear that the RxFiles team is doing well in adapting to these challenges faced by so many detailing teams. Maintaining positivity and seeing challenges as opportunities for growth is something that’s critical for teams to continue to have an impact.
Have thoughts on our DETAILS Blog posts?
You can head on over to our Discussion Forum to continue the conversation!
Marlys LeBras is a clinical pharmacist with the RxFiles Academic Detailing Program at the University of Saskatchewan. She completed her Bachelor of Science in Pharmacy at the University of Saskatchewan, her Hospital Residency with the former Regina Qu’appelle Health Region, and her post-graduate Doctor of Pharmacy (PharmD) degree at the University of British Columbia.
An interview with Lindsay Bevan, MScHQ candidate, Project Manager, Primary Care Academic Detailing Service, Centre for Effective Practice
by Anna Morgan, RN, BSN, MPH, NaRCAD Program Manager
Tags: COVID-19, Detailing Visits, E-Detailing, International, Program Management
Anna: Hi Lindsay! Thanks for chatting with us today about the exciting work happening at Centre for Effective Practice (CEP) in Canada. Can you tell us about your role and share some highlights from your team’s recent work?
Lindsay: I’m the manager of the primary care academic detailing service at CEP. We have a provincial service, which started in March of 2018 that serves family physicians across Ontario. Prior to our current service, we have run services in long-term care to support appropriate prescribing as well as primary care to support diabetes management. Our current service is still growing, but we’ve served just over 880 family physicians to date. Our focus has mainly been around opioids and chronic pain. We were just about to launch a series of “visits” (campaign topics) on prescribing in older adults, but we quickly pivoted to meet the needs of family physicians and began working on a visit around managing primary care in the COVID-19 context.
Anna: It’s so important to understand and meet the needs of family physicians when it comes to academic detailing, especially during a tremendously stressful time. Can you tell us a little bit more about the COVID-19 visit and the process behind its launch?
Lindsay: Our provincial government declared a state of emergency in Ontario on March 17th, so we knew COVID-19 would be top of mind for our physicians and that they’d need more information. We also knew that we’d have to deliver the visits virtually, which was a fairly new territory for us.
We had to modify our usual content development and detailer “upskilling” (bringing detailers up to speed on the content, key messages, and evidence around the topic) processes in order to meet the demands of family physicians by getting them information around COVID-19 when they needed it. The content development process for our other visits typically takes six months, with the detailer upskilling taking the last month and a half of that six-month period. COVID-19 turned everything upside down and made us rethink what we assumed was impossible. Within two weeks of the declaration of emergency, we started pulling together content for our COVID-19 resource centre (clinical tool for this visit, which is also available to all primary care providers), one week later we started training our detailers and within a month, we were delivering virtual visits to family physicians.
Anna: It’s impressive how quickly your team was able to launch this visit. COVID-19 is different from other topics that your team has focused on because the information and guidelines are continuously changing. How has your program kept detailers up to date?
Lindsay: The detailer upskilling process for other visits includes weekly webinars to review key messages and the surrounding evidence, and a two day in-person workshop where detailers get to practice their visit discussions with each other and family physicians prior to launching visits. We also use a content development team for our detailing tools and bring those tools to the detailers to review when they’re about 90% complete. We typically don’t edit or change those tools after visits have begun.
For our COVID-19 visit however, the detailer upskilling weekly webinars and the content development for our ever-evolving online COVID-19 resource centre have been continuous, ongoing processes. Our detailers have also taken on a larger role within both processes. Each detailer has been responsible for searching for, appraising and synthesizing information on a specific sub-topic of COVID-19, and then submitting this information for inclusion in our resource centre as well as presenting it at our weekly webinars to their fellow detailers. Our detailers need to be up-to-date on the emerging and evolving evidence and jurisdictional guidance around COVID-19 because family physicians don’t have time to sort through all the information being made available to them daily during the outbreak.
Anna: It’s critical to provide physicians with the most up-to-date information, especially in situations like the COVID-19 pandemic where they’re bombarded with new recommendations and guidelines from multiple sources on a daily basis. How many COVID-related visits has your detailing service provided to physicians during this time?
Lindsay: We’ve had 95 initial visits to date and approximately 12% of those visits have been with physicians whom we’ve never detailed before. We’re just starting to reach back out to physicians to see if they would like a follow-up visit since evidence has evolved and challenges have changed since we first started. The initial conversations were focused on testing, assessing and managing patients with the virus, and we’re now seeing those conversations shift to focus on resuming primary care services within the COVID-19 context. The detailers have done an amazing job in transitioning their detailing conversations to ensure they’re always covering the emerging areas of interest and need for family physicians.
We’ve seen little to no requests from physicians for detailing visits on anything but COVID-19 or on maintaining care in the context of COVID-19, which speaks to the impact this topic has had on family physicians.
Anna: Wow – it’s amazing that your service has been able to detail so many physicians on COVID-19 while also recruiting new ones.
Lindsay: Yes, overall, the visits have been well-received. We were a bit more cautious with our approach to promoting our COVID-19 visit and recruiting new family physicians. We didn’t want to add to the current noise at this time.
Instead, we took a more passive but strategic approach, like adding a banner to our website where family physicians can quickly sign up for a visit, and having our partners share our visit and resource centre with their membership base. One of the neat things about this visit is that because we’re offering it virtually, we’re able to expand our geographical reach and provide our detailing service to more physicians.
Anna: Using a virtual platform certainly has its pros, especially within the world of academic detailing! What has your program’s experience been like with integrating e-Detailing into your service?
Lindsay: The transition wasn’t unsurmountable for our detailers because they are quick learners, and we’ve had a lot of support through the resources offered by NaRCAD and our partnership with the Canadian Academic Detailing Collaboration (CADC). We also did internal virtual training sessions with our detailers where they were able to practice using all the features of the Zoom videoconferencing platform. Overall, it’s been a positive learning experience, and one that has furthered our team’s ability to be adaptable and enhanced our problem-solving skills.
We do feel however that there’s been an impact on the detailer-physician relationship since we’ve transitioned to virtual detailing, especially for the 12% of family physicians who are new to our service. When a detailer is in a physician’s practice, they can see how busy a waiting room is or how stressed the staff appear to be. When family physicians join a virtual detailing visit, it’s much harder to gauge what kind of day they might be having and adjust the discussion accordingly. Furthermore, the act of going into a physician’s practice itself can create goodwill that helps establish and strengthen the detailer-physician relationship, and that opportunity is lost during virtual detailing.
Anna: That’s an excellent point. Observing the waiting room and interacting with office staff is also essential to a detailer’s needs assessment. Detailers lose this piece of a visit when the detailing is done virtually. Is virtual detailing something that CEP will continue doing once COVID-19 related restrictions are lifted?
Lindsay: Our detailers and family physicians would like to return to in-person visits. There seems to be some conversations that lend themselves better to virtual communication, and others for which an in-person presence offers greater value and impact. When it comes to relationship building, in-person interactions still offer something special.
We would also like to build off the momentum we’ve started with our virtual visits. We’re exploring the idea of offering virtual detailing to family physicians who would otherwise have their visit rescheduled due to extreme weather or to family physicians located where we don’t already have a detailer covering the area.
We’ve all done what we thought was impossible in providing the majority of healthcare visits virtually. I hope that folks across the healthcare system will continue to use that momentum moving forward to increase access to care.
Lindsay Bevan works for the Centre for Effective Practice (CEP) where she collaborates with a team of amazing individuals to develop and implement evidence-based supports and services to help narrow the gap between best evidence and care in Ontario. As a project manager, she oversees the planning and implementation of the CEP’s primary care academic detailing service, which serves family physicians across Ontario. Prior to joining CEP, Lindsay worked at the University Health Network in the infection prevention and control unit, where she updated internal infection control policies and developed patient and provider educational material. Lindsay is currently completing her Master of Science in Healthcare Quality at Queen’s University.
An interview with Tony de Melo, RPh, Director of Clinical Education Programs, Alosa Health
by Anna Morgan, RN, BSN, MPH, NaRCAD Program Manager
Tags: Detailing Visits, Opioid Safety, Program Management, Training
NaRCAD: Tony, thanks for chatting with us today about your role at Alosa Health! What’s been the most exciting part of the work that Alosa has done this year?
Tony: Our partnership with Aetna, a managed health care company and health care insurer. We’ve been working with them to provide educational outreach to providers on chronic pain, acute pain, and opioid use disorder (OUD); supporting them in managing pain using non-opioid drug options; appropriately dosing opioids when they need to be used; tapering down patients who are on existing high doses of opioids; and helping to identify patients that may have opioid use disorder. We’re now working in Pennsylvania, Virginia, West Virginia, Ohio, Illinois and Maine.
NaRCAD: That collaboration does sound exciting! Now, let’s talk a little about your role at Alosa. You actively detail, you manage academic detailers in the field, and you lead trainings at Alosa. Which aspect of your role is your favorite, and why?
Tony: When I’m training and managing detailers, I see myself more as a coach than a trainer. I’ve always liked educating and teaching—I enjoy helping others develop their skills and seeing them improve. Training folks and coaching them in the field is rewarding to me because I feel that I’m impacting what they’re doing in their own communities. It brings me happiness to see others succeed.
NaRCAD: As a coach, how do you know when your work has been impactful?
Tony: When I work with detailers in the field, I can see firsthand that they are able to be impactful with the providers because they are bringing about behavior change with their message delivery and confidence. We can also measure how impactful our work is by reviewing our Salesforce data. I can see from the detailer’s visit notes when providers have agreed to a behavior change, and this is a true measure of our work being impactful.
NaRCAD: With success comes challenges. What are some of the major challenges you see academic detailers face in training and in the field?
Tony: The major challenge is teaching detailers to have a conversation with clinicians rather than a lecture. Making the visit more conversational doesn’t often come as naturally as presenting the information in a lecture format, but the conversation must be about understanding where the provider is now, what their needs might be, and how to deliver content to make behavior change.
In the field, the major challenge is access to providers. Many health systems have regulations and restrictions for those who want to meet with providers, because representatives in the pharma industry have bombarded and overloaded providers throughout the years. As a result, we’re often seen as an outside influence or an outside visitor, so we aren’t always given the opportunity to meet with a provider.
NaRCAD: With these challenges in mind, how do you instill confidence in academic detailers as a trainer and as a manager?
Tony: We spend a lot of time practicing and providing feedback during trainings. We practice individually, with partners, and with outside folks who are playing the role of providers. Practicing multiple situations, multiple times, over multiple days, builds confidence. We also videotape the trainees so that they can see what they’re doing well and what they can improve upon.
As a manager in the field, it’s quite similar. I usually sit down with each detailer after a visit and discuss what worked well and what they could do differently in their next visit, so that each visit becomes a learning opportunity. Providing feedback and being a mirror for the detailers helps them to build confidence and skills as time goes on. I also offer the detailers my perspective; having spent time doing this myself and observing others, I can share the tricks, skills, and wording I’ve heard throughout my time with the detailers.
NaRCAD: Those are all great ways to build confidence among detailers. What’s one piece of advice that you would give to academic detailers?
Tony: Don’t be afraid to ask for a specific behavior change, and remember to follow up to make sure that the behavior change occurs. One thing that I find to be hard for academic detailers is the “ask”, where detailers are asking for commitment or behavior change from a provider at the end of the visit. I always tell detailers to frame it as, “based on what you’ve heard today, what is one thing you’d do differently?” Follow-up then ensures that providers are committed to change and holds them accountable for what they said they would do.
NaRCAD: That’s extremely helpful advice for detailers. What’s the best thing a program manager could do to maintain high levels of engagement among detailers?
Tony: As a manager who’s coaching or guiding others, it’s important to build trust between yourself and the folks you’re coaching or managing. It can be lonely when you’re in the field detailing by yourself, so managers need to have touchpoints with their detailers. Building trust and having your detailers know you’re all working together helps them stay self-motivated; it makes them want to go out into the field and do a good job because they know someone is backing them up.
NaRCAD: Thank you for taking the time to chat with us today. We value your unique perspective on detailing, managing, and training!
Tony de Melo manages field staff and leads academic detailer trainings at Alosa Health. He attended Massachusetts College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences in Boston, where he received a BS in Pharmacy with a minor in Business Administration. This business interest led him to work for several pharmaceutical companies as a sales representative, account manager, training manager, district/regional manager, associate director of managed markets training, head of sales training, and development & marketing product manager. He has also worked for smaller businesses that were looking to grow their sales and marketing programs. Throughout his career, Tony has successfully sold, marketed, trained, led, designed, developed and executed solutions to meet business objectives.
An interview with Jennifer Pruskowski, PharmD, BCPS, BCGP, CPE, a palliative care pharmacist at University of Pittsburgh, School of Pharmacy by Winnie Ho, Program Coordinator
Overview: This intervention is taking place in the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center (UPMC) Senior Communities in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Dr. Pruskowski's work is funded by The Beckwith Institute.
Tags: Deprescribing, Elderly Care, Medications, Program Management
NaRCAD: Hi Jennifer, thank you for taking the time to speak with us today! You are breaking new ground on a deprescribing academic detailing project in Pittsburgh. What role does deprescribing play in improving health outcomes in nursing homes?
Jennifer: Deprescribing is the identification and discontinuation of potentially unnecessary or inappropriate medications. What I really love about deprescribing is that it’s really patient-centered.
For example, one medication class might be appropriate for one patient, but maybe not for the next. Within the UPMC Senior Communities, I have developed, implemented, and evaluated a clinical pharmacy-driven deprescribing initiative named the DE-PHARM Project, which stands for the "Discussion to Ensure the Patient-centered, Health-focused, Prognosis-appropriate and Rational Medication regimen". Say that 5 times fast!
This project allows pharmacists within the nursing home setting to review medication regimens and conduct conversations with nursing home residents, their families, and their caregivers. Deprescribing allows us to rebalance the equation when there may be medication overload, and helps us to reduce the burden on our patients.
NaRCAD: What are unique factors when approaching deprescribing work in nursing homes?
Jennifer: While a lot of patients outside of the nursing home are complex, the nursing home population is one of the most obvious and at-need, due to their reduced functional status and their need for additional services. Nursing home residents also tend to receive their care, essentially, from one provider. So, it’s very conducive for deprescribing, and it allows us as an academic detailing program to overcome one of the main barriers to deprescribing, which is tracking down and contacting potentially numerous prescribers.
NaRCAD: That's a pretty common barrier, to track down and identify the multiple providers that are supporting the patient.
Jennifer: Absolutely. The other thing to consider is that there are already regulations in place within a nursing home setting that encourages deprescribing. Every nursing home that receives Medicare or Medicaid has certain regulations to follow, which is basically all of them. For example, since the mid 2000’s, there’s been verbiage around ‘gradual dose reduction’ for anti-psychotics, and then in the last 5 to 7 years, this was expanded to antimicrobials as well to try to curb growing antibiotic resistance.
Nursing homes are built for deprescribing, in the sense that these medications are continuously monitored and every quarter, they need to justify to CMS why someone is on a medication at a certain dose.
However, what gets challenging is integrating care goals, functional status, patient perspectives, and evidence-based literature into deprescribing. Nursing home settings often times have a comfort-focused treatment plan. The medications that I tend to focus on when encouraging deprescribing may not be the same as other detailers. For example, many detailers are working on opioid-related campaigns. Opioids are crucial for deprescribing, but if you think of a patient who is closer to the end of life, opioids are typically not what we target because the medication tends to align with their treatment plan and goals.
NaRCAD: That’s a really interesting and complicated situation. What are some of the other challenges you’re facing with approaching deprescribing in nursing homes?
Jennifer: One of the big challenges is that no studies have been done about the initiation of certain medications in nursing home residents. Most clinical trials are also done in healthier, younger adults. We don’t have the most literature to guide a lot of what we do, and it’s critical because our prescribing goals are going to be different for the nursing home population as compared to the general population.
NaRCAD: This can often be a challenge when initiating an academic detailing campaign in a field that may not have as many other detailers. One of the foundations of academic detailing is the dissemination of evidence based information, but as you mention, there are not as many resources and studies in the work you’re about to partake in.
As you and your team begin to initiate your program, how do you plan on approaching this paradox?
Jennifer: So, the first thing that we’re doing is determining the medication that we’re going to target. We’re taking a look at prescribing cultures within the nursing homes that we’re targeting, and our working group is looking at what medication regimens are potentially inappropriate, or deprescribing eligible.
There is an evidence-based algorithm that we utilize for our intervention based on what medication class we will target from deprescribing.org, run by Barb Farrell, a friend and colleague of mine in the Canadian Deprescribing Research Network. So for some medications, such as proton pump inhibitors or histamine blockers, there are resources that have been created.
However, as we do the groundwork for our program, we could potentially find ourselves targeting a medication class that doesn’t have a lot of evidence-based literature around it, and then that will be both the challenging and fun part of developing verbiage and guidelines around that.
NaRCAD: Someone’s always got to do it first! It can be difficult getting programs started, and we are very lucky to have a growing population of people who are interested in integrating academic detailing into their programs.
As you’re reflecting and planning for the future, what would be important for someone else in your shoes to know about starting a new program?
Jennifer: The most important part is really thinking through the needs assessment. We know that there is a problem, and now it’s about identifying the specific issues and critically thinking through a solution. We will really need to understand the prescribing behaviors that exist in our nursing homes. Much of the prescribing culture there is based off inertia, extrapolation, and people doing their best to adapt important regimens from information that doesn’t directly address their unique situations with nursing home residents.
We are trying to see if, for example, our providers are prescribing certain medications because they see this problem a lot in other populations they work with, or if they are working off of knowledge that has not been updated in many, many years. These would be two very different academic detailing interventions.
NaRCAD: And finally, as we begin a brand-new decade in 2020, what would you say to anyone else looking to consider academic detailing?
Jennifer: Jump in! Academic detailing is a proven intervention to effectively disseminate evidence-based literature. I would say that as much as academic detailing can feel like a one way street – as a detailer coming to give a provider information – it really is more of a two-way street than people think. I think in the small amount of time that I’ve done this, I feel like I’ve actually gotten more information from our prescribers than I feel like I’m giving to them at the end of the day.
NaRCAD: A fantastic note to end on. Thank you so much for taking the time to speak to us, and we wish you and your team continued success in 2020!
Dr. Pruskowski received her PharmD from Wilkes University in Wilkes Barre, Pennsylvania. She then completed a Post-Graduate Year One Pharmacy Practice and Post-Graduate Year Two Geriatric Residency from the Williams Jennings Bryan Dorn Veterans Affairs Medical Center in Columbia, South Carolina, as well as an Interprofessional Palliative Care Fellowship at the James J. Peters Veterans Affairs Medical Center in Bronx, New York.
Dr. Pruskowski is a Board Certified Pharmacotherapy Specialist, a Certified Geriatric Pharmacist, and a Certified Pain Educator, and has received specialized training in pain management from the American Society of Consultant Pharmacists and the American Society of Health-System Pharmacists. Her clinical practice site is the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center (UPMC) Palliative Supportive Institute (PSI) as the Palliative Care Clinical Pharmacy Specialist.
An interview with Rachel Lemons, Project Manager, ONE Tennessee
by Anna Morgan, RN, BSN, MPH, NaRCAD Program Manager
Tags: Opioid Safety, Project Management
NaRCAD: Thank you for taking the time to speak with us today—we’re excited to hear about you and your team! Can you tell us a bit about ONE Tennessee and how your organization first became involved with academic detailing?
Rachel: ONE Tennessee is a state-wide nonprofit healthcare collaborative who is focused on fighting the opioid epidemic. We were founded as an outcome of a summit hosted by the Tennessee Department of Health called “Turning the Tide.” The summit joined together healthcare professionals and stakeholders to discuss best practices for tackling the epidemic. Academic detailing was highlighted as a best practice during the summit and it was collectively decided that it would become one of our initial projects. ONE Tennessee brought the academic detailing pilot program to life through the opioid crisis funding the Department of Health received from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
NaRCAD: We’re glad to know that the strategy of AD was highlighted! You’re now managing a program of detailers focused on opioid safety across the state of Tennessee—tell us what that’s like.
Rachel: Exciting! Once our detailers were trained by your team, my role was very much supportive in nature. I helped our detailers to identify clinicians in their communities, and troubleshoot any issues. We were fortunate enough to be able to recruit a passionate group of pharmacists for our pilot, and that made my job easier from a clinical standpoint, since they’re the subject matter experts on opioid prescribing. They‘re on the front line of the epidemic, and they fit the perfect mold for engaging with clinicians to build a strong and trusting relationship.
NaRCAD: You recently completed the pilot stage of your program. What would you say are some of the biggest lessons you’ve learned so far about building an academic detailing program?
Rachel: Getting in the door was one of the biggest barriers our detailers faced. From a programmatic standpoint, I think ONE Tennessee could have done a little more foundational work for our detailers, like speaking with our stakeholders and educating them on academic detailing as it relates to the opioid initiative—that would have really helped our detailers gain access to clinicians.
We also learned that time was a barrier for our detailers. Our initial grant period was only one year, and things moved very quickly. We recruited full-time community pharmacists, so having the bandwidth to prepare and complete academic detailing visits was often difficult, especially if there was limited employer support.
NaRCAD: Those are all familiar challenges across many of the programs we support. How did you maintain strong relationships with your detailers and support them in the work that they were doing in the field?
Rachel: I always had an open line of communication with our detailers. We had standing monthly webinars, but it was difficult to find a time that worked for everyone because they were full-time pharmacists. Our detailers were scattered across the state and were mostly in rural areas, so I was not able to meet with them in person; however, I was available via email, phone call, and text message. I learned early on that I had to meet detailers where they were. Some detailers did not have time to check email, so it was easier to do a quick call at lunch or early in the morning before their day got started. It really depended on the needs of the detailer, but I always maintained an open line of communication.
NaRCAD: That’s a great model, and regular communication helps detailers feel a sense of community through a project. Other supports are often more concrete, like tools and resources. What are some that you've found to be critical to program success, and why?
Rachel: I think first and foremost, our partners, specifically NaRCAD, the Tennessee Pharmacists Association, the Tennessee Hospital Association, the Tennessee Nurses Association, the Tennessee Medical Association, and the Tennessee Department of Health, were a tremendous resource that made our program incredibly successful. Google’s platform (Google Drive, Google Sheets, and Google Docs) was also critical to our success, as it allowed us to share data and updates in real time. We did not have access to specific evaluation tools because we are a young organization and our grant period was only one year. Our shared space online helped me to stay organized and capture information from our detailers all in one place, and it was free!
NaRCAD: These are all great reflections for AD program managers to learn from. Based on the successes and challenges of this pilot, where do you see your program in a year?
Rachel: I see us continuing our current model with our inaugural group of academic detailing community pharmacists while working towards designing, developing, and implementing a “train -the -trainer” model in partnership with your team. I also see us having discussions with large and small hospital systems to customize plans to fit their unique needs related to opioid safety. Most importantly, we want to continue to support the state and our other healthcare stakeholders who are with us on this journey.
NaRCAD: We’re happy to help support that vision. Any other important advice/tip that you’d give to other young programs?
Rachel: Patience. You must have an understanding that there are going to be pitfalls, but if you have the support and the right people involved, your program is going to succeed. Also, don’t try to reinvent the wheel if you don’t have to. There are so many other programs out there — reach out to people and have conversations!
NaRCAD: Rachel, thank you so much for sharing your experiences with us. We're excited to see the impact of your program into the future.
Rachel Lemons found passion for public service early on in life. She is committed to assisting those with the greatest need in her community. She’s working to effect change socially and through public policy. She is a graduate of East Tennessee State University, where she received her Bachelor of Science in Public Health. Her involvement with Tennessee’s Opioid Epidemic began with the Department of Health, where she was exposed to the State’s rapid response in this fight which lead her to joining ONE Tennessee as a Project Manager. She continues to build her career with a practical and wide ranging set of experiences in order to gain a global perspective on health issues facing communities today. Rachel is an active member in the Junior League of Nashville, Tennessee Public Health Association and currently serves as the Board Intern at Cheekwood Estate & Gardens in Nashville.
Please refer to our Conference Hub page through narcad.org for all conference related videos and slides, which are available as of December 2nd, 2019.
by Anna Morgan, RN, BSN, MPH, NaRCAD Program Manager
Tags: Conference, E-Detailing, Jerry Avorn, Program Management
Our team at NaRCAD was proud to host the 7th International Conference on Academic Detailing on November 7th and 8th, 2019 in Boston to a sold-out crowd of health professionals engaged in clinical outreach education. With this year’s theme emphasizing collaboration and innovation, our Director, Dr. Mike Fischer, kicked off Day 1 of NaRCAD2019 by reflecting on the past decade of NaRCAD’s work, while also discussing our exciting plans for the future, and highlighting the importance of enhancing connection between attendees to support their work ahead.
Dr. Melissa Christopher, National Director for the Veteran Affairs (VA) Academic Detailing Services, was next to take the stage as the Day 1 Keynote Speaker. She provided the audience with an overview of the current work by the Department of Veterans Affairs National Academic Detailing Service and how it supports a High Reliability Organization culture. She also spoke of the future of academic detailing at the VA, which includes expanding their reach with virtual detailing (“e-detailing”) and advancing their electronic health records through ordering safety alerts and real-time PDMP data.
Other day 1 highlights included an expert panel presenting on the successes and challenges of implementing e-detailing within their programs, sharing stories and insights about when, why, and how to connect virtually with providers. Our small group breakout sessions explored the fundamentals of academic detailing, with sessions focused on the basics of an academic detailing visit, how to identify and apply the most reliable sources of evidence-based research, and how to successfully lead an academic detailing program.
Day 1 also included our annual “lightning round” of Field Presentations, a session that highlights aspects of recent academic detailing interventions. Topics included the use of academic detailing to improve maternal and neonatal health through safer opioid prescribing, the effects of academic detailing on pediatric antipsychotic prescribing in the Medicaid population, and increasing access to Nalaxone in New York City through academic detailing. The afternoon also included a talk on Aetna’s opioid strategy and ongoing initiatives, with a focus on leveraging provider and system relationships to incentivize physician engagement and catalyze behavior change.
Dr. Jerry Avorn, Co-Director of NaRCAD, ended the Day 1 presentations with his Annual Academic Detailing Talk, addressing the importance of moving beyond the silos that exist in most healthcare settings, and how academic detailing can encourage the integration and collaboration of roles and initiatives to create synergy. That collaboration and synergy was illustrated during our evening’s Networking Reception, where we launched our new Mentor Match Program to great success, pairing those just starting out in the field with mentors who are part of more established programs.
Day 2 provided similar opportunity for exploration and dialogue about program expansion. We kicked off with Keynote Speaker Tupper Bean, Executive Director from the Centre for Effective Practice (CEP). He discussed CEP’s journey to sustainability as an independent, not-for-profit organization, and reminded the audience that sustainability is a parallel process, not an “add-on”. To further explore sustainability, our Day 2 Plenary highlighted capacity-building strategies, best practices, and opportunities for expansion in clinical outreach education programming.
Day 2 Field Presentations provided opportunities to learn about more active AD programs, including topics such as identifying barriers to opioid prescribing through academic detailing, a team-based model and approach to AD, and a new AD campaign exploring cannabis as an alternative tool for patients experiencing pain. Our afternoon wrapped up with workshops focused on relationship-building for program sustainability, understanding stigma when supporting patients with opioid use disorder (OUD), and building AD campaign materials with limited resources.
We’re grateful to all those who attended, and beyond the 2 days of connection at the conference, we at NaRCAD are committed to creating continuous opportunities for connection, support, and collaboration among all of you who make up our incredible network. Keep an eye out for our Annual Community survey, which we’ll send you in early December to find out what you need as you make an even greater impact in 2020!
-The NaRCAD Team
Recruiting Pharmacy Students for Academic Detailing: Reflecting on Successes and Challenges in Boone County, West Virginia
OVERVIEW: Boone County, West Virginia was one of 4 original site selected for years 1 + 2 of a pilot program of the CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention), NACCHO (the National Association of County and City Health Officials), and our team at NaRCAD (The National Resource Center for Academic Detailing). This exciting pilot program focused on community-level work with local public health departments to develop customized interventions to reduce opioid overdose and death. Six sites experiencing significant public health problems related to opioids were selected over the two years to be trained in academic detailing; those trained health professionals then conducted 1:1 field visits with front line clinicians to impact behavior around prescribing, treatment referrals, and patient care, all within a rural area. As year 2 comes to a close, we’re showcasing stories from the field.
Tags: Detailing Visits, LOOPR, Opioid Safety, Program Management, Rural AD Programs
Via NaRCAD, NACCHO, & the CDC’s pilot project, “LOOPR”, we were able to connect with high-burden counties across the U.S. whose rates of high prescribing and high fatal and non-fatal overdoses identified them as a county in need of support. NaRCAD worked on the implementation of an academic detailing initiative over the course of 2017-2019 with Boone County, located in rural West Virginia.
Boone County ranks as the 22nd most vulnerable county across all counties in the United States, with the highest drug overdose mortality rate of all counties in West Virginia. Due to these and other data, Boone was identified as a key county in which to test the implementation of an academic detailing program, in which trained detailers would speak to clinicians and pharmacists about safer prescribing of opioids, checking the state’s prescription drug monitoring program to avoid dangerous co-prescribing of opioids and benzodiazepines, and to try and provide treatment, non-opioid therapy, and resources to patients in need.
One of the most unique approaches across all 5 sites of the LOOPR Project was carried out in Boone, with the team of 5 detailers being hand-selected from the nearby University of Charleston West Virginia’s School of Pharmacy. Four of these five recruited detailers were students in training to become pharmacists; one detailer works at the university as a professor of pharmacy. Selecting pharmacy students and faculty allowed for many positive approaches to the project, as well as creating unforeseen challenges.
Programs considering hiring student detailers can often rely on the flexibility of students’ schedules, as well as an enthusiasm and energy for learning that may exist in smaller quantities later in one’s career, when full-time roles in healthcare take priority. While many career-established clinicians may have little room in their schedules to squeeze in 1:1 sessions with fellow clinicians, students may have more of an ability to shift their schedules, especially if they are not yet carrying out residency.
a reflections from Boone County’s Detailing Team, it’s clear that best practices in detailing should also consider the vast amounts of new information that students are absorbing early in their learning careers, and that learning clinical content may take longer to grasp. In addition, the comfort level with new clinical information may lead to less confidence in discussing best practices, especially with clinicians whose careers are much more established. Finding the right balance of tenacity, communications savvy, more time to ramp up to comfort in delivering and leading 1:1 sessions, an additional amount of technical assistance provided at more frequent intervals, and additional practice time or shadowing time with a mentor, can all benefit student detailers who are training to join a clinical outreach education team in a high burden area.
With these elements in place, a student detailer may be poised for success—however, other considerations include the fact that students may have new projects, graduation pending, or life events which may end up limiting their ability to dedicate consistent time to a project rolled out over many months.
Other reflections from the Boone County AD Team included looking carefully at the social climate in which AD interventions of this nature may be implemented. While no county is free of potential clinician-level or community-level stigma, particularly around issues such as opioid use disorder, Boone’s AD team shared a particularly challenging setting within which the local community was not as supportive of evidence-based harm reduction initiatives as would be beneficial. One detailer’s suggestion to raise the visibility of and advocacy for harm reduction included considering a public health campaign prior to a detailing campaign, to ensure that subsequent roll-out of detailing is more sustainable and met with an openness from clinicians to consider behavior change.
NaRCAD’s work with the public health department in Boone County, in partnership with the students and faculty of University of Charleston, West Virginia, provided the kinds of insights critical to learning from a pilot project of this nature. As with many pilot studies, any information gathered can illustrate a clearer picture of the landscape within which public health initiatives can be implemented, so that future projects may have a greater impact. With many thanks to the student and faculty team of Boone County’s Academic Detailing Project team, we and our partners are grateful to have learned so much over the past two years.
An Interview with Amber Elliot, BSN, RN, Assistant Director, St. Francois County Health Center
St. Francois County, Missouri was one of two sites selected for year 2 of a pilot program of the CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention), NACCHO (the National Association of County and City Health Officials), and NaRCAD (The National Resource Center for Academic Detailing). This exciting pilot program focused on community-level work with local public health departments to develop customized interventions to reduce opioid overdose and death. Six sites experiencing significant public health problems related to opioids were selected over the two years to be trained in academic detailing; those trained health professionals then conducted 1:1 field visits with front line clinicians to impact behavior around prescribing, treatment referrals, and patient care, all within a rural area. As year 2 comes to a close, we’re showcasing stories from the field.
Tags: LOOPR, Opioid Safety, Program Management, Rural AD Programs
NaRCAD: Thanks for joining us to talk about academic detailing in St. Francois, Amber. Let’s start the conversation with some background information about your county. How has the opioid crisis presented itself in your community?
Amber: As with many other places, St. Francois County has certainly felt the impact from the opioid crisis. We have high rates of overdoses and over-prescribing. There have also been more children in foster homes because their parents have an opioid use disorder, as well as increasing drug arrest rates. Many aspects of our community have been affected in some way or another. I think this is the main reason why so many community agencies have come together to start working on this issue.
NaRCAD: Why did you think the strategy of academic detailing would lend itself to improving patient health in response to the opioid crisis in your community?
Amber: Academic detailing is a great strategy to reach out directly to clinicians in their offices in order to provide resources and supportive education without punitive actions. We really weren’t sure what to expect with having two nurse practitioners, two registered nurses, and a pharmacist carrying out the 1:1 detailing visits.
Health Center administration and detailers were skeptical of how physicians would react to other disciplines “telling them how to do their job”. However, academic detailing isn’t telling them what to do, it’s talking with them about what they can do to keep their patients safe. It is a partnership.
Missouri is the only state without a statewide PDMP. St. Francois County passed an ordinance to join the St. Louis County voluntary PDMP in 2017. The first report from the PDMP showed St. Francois County as the highest prescribing county in the state. This was a big concern for the Local Board of Health and, we learned from community partners, the citizens of St. Francois County. Health Center administration has presented opioid-related health data for the county at various meeting and kept hearing from partners that clinician outreach education and patient education were top priorities when it came to prescription opioids.
NaRCAD: So, it sounds like it’s been a success so far. What would you say has been the most impactful piece of this intervention?
Amber: The greatest success of academic detailing in St. Francois County so far has been the willingness of most physicians to start the conversation about how they can improve prescribing patterns, and care of patients at risk for or experiencing opioid use disorder (OUD). Also, many physicians have started using the PDMP regularly as a result of our academic detailing visits.
NaRCAD: That’s excellent news and shows the impact that 1:1 education can have! Over the course of this pilot project these past 4 months, what has the greatest challenge been with implementing a successful academic detailing intervention to improve opioid safety in St. Francois?
Amber: The challenge are the providers who do not want to talk with the detailers, or the ones who flat out refuse to change their prescribing patterns. As a nurse, this is frustrating to me because I believe in quality, evidence-based healthcare for all. The refusal to learn, or seek to learn, new information about medications that are prescribed daily is poor patient care and our citizens deserve better than that.
NaRCAD: That does sound frustrating! During our 2-day training, we really emphasis the importance of asking open-ended questions to draw clinicians out. However, there will always be some clinicians who will not engage, no matter how great of a detailer you are. Victoria Adewumi from the original cohort of LOOPR detailers discussed that in a prior blog post. What is something you wish you knew prior to joining the LOOPR Academic Detailing project?
Amber: I wish I’d known more about choosing detailers. Recruitment is important. When recruiting detailers, it is more important to make sure to recruit people who have the bandwidth to do the detailing, rather than making sure they have the perfect clinical background. It may be a good idea to create a formalized agreement to ensure they completed their required detailing visits.
NaRCAD: You are spot on, Amber. Recruitment is a complex process. Readers can learn more about this later in the summer when we release our new Implementation Guide to help sites like yours select and hire the right candidates. Readers can read other LOOPR blog interviews here, and stay plugged in for more LOOPR site highlights in the next couple of months.
Amber Elliot, BSN, RN
St. Francois County Health Center
Amber Elliott is the Assistant Director for the St. Francois County Health Center in Park Hills, MO. She received her Associates Degree in Nursing in 2008 from Mineral Area College to become a Registered Nurse. She went on to obtain her Bachelor’s Degree in Nursing in 2011 from Central Methodist University. She has spent most of her nursing career working in acute settings, primarily hemodialysis. Amber started working in public health four years ago in hopes to make her own community a healthier, safer place to live. Amber has been working on opioid-related activities since 2017. She currently resides in Farmington, MO with her husband and two children.
Featuring: Kimberly C. McKeirnan, PharmD, BCACP
Director of the Center for Pharmacy Practice Research, Washington State University College of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences
Tags: Detailing Visits, Program Management, Vaccinations
As a pharmacist, I spend a lot of time teaching. I teach patients how to take their medications, how to choose over-the-counter products, and how to identify whether or not to treat minor ailments at home, in the pharmacy, or by seeking care from a physician. I also get to teach other health care providers when one of the medications they prescribe to a patient will interact with the patient’s other medications or cause side effects that will be problematic.
After teaching informally in the pharmacy since 2005 and more formally as a Clinical Assistant Professor for the College of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences at Washington State University since 2013, my transition to become an academic detailer was natural.
In 2014 I teamed up with an interprofessional group of colleagues to apply for grant funding to improve the low pneumococcal immunization rates in our local rural areas. Our project proposed utilizing academic detailing to teach healthcare providers about pneumococcal immunizations and the importance of immunizing patients. The CDC Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) released a recommendation to vaccinate all patients 65 and older with the new PCV-13 pneumonia vaccine in combination with the longstanding PPSV23 vaccine as part of a two-dose series.
Having two pneumococcal vaccines with a complicated vaccination schedule has been challenging for providers. I often hear the questions from my colleagues: “Why are there two, do we really need two?”, “Which one do I give first?”, “When do I give the second one?”, and “What if I give them too close together, do they still work?” Additionally, during a needs assessment of our area we found that many rural pharmacies in our area do not vaccinate at all or only stock certain vaccines because they don’t want to cause competition with the local physicians.
We were successfully funded with an Independent Grant for Pfizer’s Learning and Change from Pfizer in 2015. During the first phase of the project, we attended the NaRCAD training program in 2015. The NaRCAD training provided a solid foundation for the framework of our project.
However, once we started talking to local providers about coming in to provide academic detailing, we ran into a major barrier. Getting our “foot in the door” with local providers was harder than we expected. It became clear that our team would need to expand to include more healthcare providers and that we would need to focus our efforts on convincing local medical clinics and pharmacies to invite us in to detail their teams.
We expanded our team to include two pharmacists, one nurse, two physicians, two student pharmacists, one student nurse, two medical students, and on biomedical data analysis student. Our team physicians were able to identify physician champions and convince local medical practitioners that our detailing would be helpful for the medical team. They conveyed the message that we weren’t trying to rearrange things – just offer support the clinics. Four pharmacies and two medical clinics invited us to provide detailing.
For the medical clinic visits, we were able to give 15-minute presentations during staff meetings at each location. Attendees included hospital administrators, practitioners, pharmacy staff, nurses, medical assistants, and front end office staff. We appreciated the opportunity to reach so many disciplines at once since immunizations can be recommended by several different health disciplines and at several points during an office visit or hospitalization.
Our detailing visits were so well received that we were asked to come back to one of the medical clinics to provide a more in-depth educational program to all of the nursing staff. The second clinic invited us back to meet with hospital leadership to discuss specific points where interventions could be implemented, such as using an EHR alert, putting up signs, or simply asking patients if they were interested in receiving an immunization.
We identified several clinical pearls for teams that are considering getting into academic detailing:
McKeirnan KC, Colorafi KJ, Panther SG, Potyk D, McCarthy J. Teaching the Healthcare Team about Pneumococcal Vaccination Practices for Older Adults through Academic Detailing. The Senior Care Pharmacist. Accepted March 2019, in press.
Kimberly C. McKeirnan, PharmD, BCACP
Director, Center for Pharmacy Practice Research, Washington State University College of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences
Kimberly C. McKeirnan, PharmD, BCACP, is a Clinical Assistant Professor in the Department of Pharmacotherapy at the Washington State University College of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences. Dr. McKeirnan graduated with her Doctor of Pharmacy degree from WSU in 2008 and joined the faculty at WSU in 2013 after five years in community pharmacy practice. She is the Director of the newly developed Center for Pharmacy Practice Research at WSU and enjoys teaching student pharmacists about patient care and research. Dr. McKeirnan is passionate about research involving community pharmacy, public health, and improving patient access to quality care services. Dr. McKeirnan has received grants for improving immunization rates in rural areas, developing a model for implementing chronic disease-state management services in rural community pharmacies, and developing a pharmacy technician immunization training program.
An Interview with Victoria Adewumi, MA, Community Liason, City of Manchester Health Department
NaRCAD Training Alumna
by Kayland Arrington, MPH, Program Manager at NaRCAD
Tags: Detailing Visits, Opioid Safety, Program Management, Training
NaRCAD: How did you get into AD? How was the Manchester team formed?
Victoria: I was very interested in community outreach and improving the health and well-being of families! I had cursory experience with substance use disorder management and had to jump in with both feet. It really helped having other detailers on the team that NaRCAD trained that I could lean on. The other detailers constantly provided support, and one helped open the door for me at her health system to speak with clinicians. She even provided me talking points that previously worked for her so I could walk into my first appointment feeling confident.
NaRCAD: What has your experience been as a detailer who does not have clinical experience but who does have public health expertise? Is someone able to be effective as an academic detailer without as much prior clinical training?
Victoria: My experience has been extremely positive! I care about community, and I thought this was a great opportunity to gain new expertise in this field. I’ve always felt that a community perspective is needed for us to be able to leverage our impact in this field.
The NaRCAD Academic Detailing techniques training was fantastic in helping me build tools to be able to speak well and motivate clinicians around medication-assisted treatment (MAT). My goal as an individual detailer is always to present myself as being on the same team as clinicians. I really see detailing as having a solution for clinicians, rather than simply trying to sell them an idea.
NaRCAD: Was there a time when a clinician presented pushback or obstacles that made it difficult to get your message across?
Victoria: Some clinicians seemed to have already decided whether they were going to be on board or not before I even met with them. I had to feel strong and confident in the skills that I have. When I meet with a clinician, I always frame it as “I’m coming in as a representative of the community. There’s a crisis in our community, and you, as a provider, are a key part of the solution. How can we get you involved?” and “What kinds of things can you tell us that we haven’t even thought about before?” We need everyone’s participation if we’re going to change the tide of the city of Manchester, and clinicians are a vital part of that.
NaRCAD: You have mentioned the power of the team of detailers--can you tell us how the Manchester AD came to be so strong and effective?
Victoria: I didn’t know any of the other detailers before the project. The NaRCAD training was great as an introduction to the work and to each other. We all had a sense of hope that was immediately apparent. We have the privilege of doing work that helps save lives and because of this attitude, there was a sense of camaraderie right away. We’ve been effective because our AD team is strong, and it was strong because we were intentional about building bonds. During the implementation period, we never went more than a month without checking in with each other, and sharing successes and challenges.
I don’t think I would have enjoyed the process as much if I didn’t have this amazing AD team of colleagues. We’ve had incredible success in building a team of detailers who are all committed to and excited about the work of connecting with frontline clinicians to improve patient care around opioid safety.
NaRCAD: How would you recommend other programs go about recruiting those people that are equally committed and excited?
Victoria: That’s a great question! I didn’t necessarily have an opioid response background, but I’ve always cared about communities. That desire to help others makes a great detailer. The trainings can teach the clinical content, but that element of wanting to improve people’s lives is the anchor of a strong AD team, and will resonate with the providers you’ll be detailing. I would then advise new sites to do the important work of helping their detailers to build strong relationships and a sense of teamwork right from the beginning. Those relationships will support everything, from good communication with clinicians, to a renewed sense of purpose in doing the work, which shields against burn out moving forward. Consistent opportunities to check in and connect between AD team members can’t be overemphasized—it truly made me feel that I was never in this alone; I was always working as part of something bigger than myself.
Victoria Adewumi, MA
City of Manchester Health Department
Victoria Adewumi is a Community Liaison with the Manchester Public Health Department. Victoria primarily helps coordinate and staff programming of the Manchester Community School Project, a model that facilitates better health for Manchester residents through place-based interventions. Victoria serves Manchester residents by linking them to partners in the health, social service, business, non-profit, and faith communities and by engaging community members in resident leadership and equity activities. Victoria also participates in efforts to serve refugees and newcomers in New Hampshire through both direct service and community-building initiatives. Victoria holds Bachelor and Master of Arts Degrees in Political Science from the University of New Hampshire.
Tags: Detailing Visits, Evaluation, Program Management
The NaRCAD Team is excited to kick off the latest episode in our C.O.r.E. Podcast Series, this time featuring the insights of Program Director Rebecca Edelberg, MPH, from the Boston-based non-profit academic detailing organization Alosa Health, as she shares her experiences managing field programs in clinical outreach education.
This episode's 15-minute interview with Rebecca hones in on the "how-to's" of strong AD program management, including:
Tune in here, and sound off on Twitter or in the comments section below with insights, questions for Rebecca, or topics you'd like to see featured on our next podcast. Learn more about Rebecca and Alosa Health below!
Rebecca Edelberg, MPH, Program Director, Alosa Health
Rebecca is responsible for providing technical and operational support to field staff, and for ensuring that field-based clinical education programs are executed to clients' satisfaction. Rebecca previously worked at Boston Medical Center implementing a clinical trial and as a consultant in the electronic medical records (EMR) industry, where she engaged in one-on-one clinician education. She has an undergraduate degree from Tufts University and a Masters in Public Health from Boston University with concentrations in Epidemiology and Health Policy. Learn more about Alosa Health's programs, clinical modules, and expert team on their website.
NaRCAD's Interview Series: Public Health Detailing Program at New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene (DOHMH)
Featuring Michelle Dresser, MPH, Senior Manager, Programming & Strategy
Tags: Detailing Visits, Diabetes, Evaluation, Obesity, Program Management, Smoking Cessation, Training
Thanks for taking the time to share the great clinical outreach education work that’s being done by the NYC Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, Michelle! Tell us a bit about yourself and how you got involved in public health, specifically public health detailing.
Michelle: Thank you for the opportunity to speak about the Public Health Detailing Program. I have over 20 years of public health experience in both the non-profit and government setting, with the last 12 here at the New York City DOHMH. Throughout my professional career, my specialty has been in healthcare marketing and provider education, emphasizing how providers and consumers can better communicate with each other by tailoring complex messages using health literacy principles.
It’s essential our reps have excellent selling and communications skills, so when they engage providers and get their buy-in, providers are then equipped to get their patients “on board”. One-on-one provider engagement helps them understand how important it is to have a 2-way communication with patients.
How can an outreach representative encourage providers to “get on board” and think about care as a dialogue?
Michelle: Let’s use obesity as an example. With obesity, both providers and patients are frustrated, for different reasons. Providers may be frustrated that patients’ comorbid conditions are being exacerbated or don’t have the same kinds of tools to treat obesity as they do other conditions; patients might feel that providers aren’t using great communication techniques, like motivational interviewing (MI), to help them set goals and take small steps towards the goal.
If a patient is only told, “You need to lose weight,” which is such a broad and overarching goal, they’ll be frustrated, and frankly, non-adherent. I know I would be.
Encouraging providers to have specific dialogues using a customized approach for each patient is important. This kind of dialogue takes into account patients’ literacy beyond the written and spoken word—it looks at scientific, fundamental, health and cultural literacy, too.
We work on “coaching scripts”, which take the key recommendations and reframes them in order to custom-tailor the conversation for each patient.
One thing that’s unique about public health detailing is that we detail the whole team through one-on-one interactions. Evidence shows these types of interactions with providers and staff are more effective at changing behavior; however, sometimes due to the makeup of the practice we must conduct group presentations. It’s not ideal, but it still allows us to get the messages and materials out there.
So when an outreach representative goes into an office, they detail...everyone?
Michelle: If there are 15 people who work in an office, we’re going to detail all 15 of them. It’s a lot! Sometimes, the person who is the champion of a new behavior or workflow isn’t going to be the provider. We see the front desk staff as instrumental; they’re interacting with all of the patients. We work with our teams to ensure even the front desk staff receives the materials and information, rather than seeing them merely as a “gatekeeper” to get to the providers.
Sounds like a lot of training goes into preparing for your campaigns, and for thinking about the entire process of effective outreach. Tell us more about your trainings, and about how you prepare outreach representatives on disease content training, as well as in marketing and communications skills.
Michelle: On average, our trainings are about 5 days in length and take place the week prior to launching a new campaign. About 40 percent of the training is disease content, so we work with our internal Health Department experts, as well as external experts, where we learn about prevention strategies, treatment strategies, epidemiology and the landscape around the key recommendations chosen based on the evidence of that topic. We need to know the ‘why’ behind the campaign.
Once we have that under our belt, we shift to sessions on how to frame the issue, how to promote the materials, figuring out the “features and benefits” as well as the “barriers and objections” and finally “gaining a commitment”, which are phrases that come from pharmaceutical marketing. We’re “selling” and promoting public health interactions, so we work on those skills.
We also do a great deal of role playing, including videotaped analysis of each rep. We look at body language, what communication skills are effective, we do knowledge assessments, quizzes—we make sure our team is well-prepared to go out and detail. We take this seriously—they’re representing the New York Department of Health and Mental Hygiene.
What’s a major barrier your program has faced, and how have you tackled it?
Michelle: A big challenge, when starting a detailing program, is access. The landscape of healthcare systems in NYC has drastically changed over the past few years. As an example, several years ago, the majority of our Brooklyn territory was almost entirely made of up of small practices where access wasn’t an issue.
What’s changed since then?
Michelle: Now, many of these sites have become part of larger institutions, so there’s corporate buy-in that needs to happen for people to come in and talk to the staff. As I mentioned before, although we try and limit group presentations, this has proven to be an effective strategy when entering into a new relationship. Once they get to know us and recognize the value of the program, they’re engaged in having us come back to conduct 1:1 visits on the follow-up and subsequent campaigns.
How do you know when a campaign is working and becoming successful?
Michelle: Evaluation is always on the top of our priorities, and can be a challenge for any program to evaluate effectiveness. For every campaign we conduct an initial and follow-up visit where we assess provider practice.
This allows us to see if there has been a change in practice from the initial to the follow-up visit. Additionally, we rate what providers intend to adopt in terms of the key recommendations and supporting tools and resources. We also collect a large amount of qualitative data because it's also critical to gaining a more complete picture of the campaign’s success, especially when reporting on barriers, access and materials.
You can scale this up or down, depending on your need and organizational priorities. Our program focuses on where there’s the greatest need and potential for greatest impact.
Programs should make sure to look at their organization’s agenda and goals. It’s important to look at the data and plan the best course of action within the capacity you have.
Biography: Michelle Dresser. Michelle Dresser is the Senior Manager of Programming and Strategy for the Public Health Detailing Program within the Bureau of Chronic Disease Prevention and Tobacco Control at the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene. In this role, she oversees the overall programmatic direction and strategy of the program. This includes, campaign strategy and timing, campaign content, training and economic incentive development, provider selection, identification of targets to ensure the greatest impact on populations most in need, and identification of “new needs” opportunities to expand program reach and achievement of program goals. She also oversees internal and external strategic relationships to enhance programmatic objectives.
by Joy Leotsakos, PharmD
Tags: Cardiovascular Health, Detailing Visits, Evaluation, Program Management, Training
Who We Are. The Academic Detailing Service (ADS) of the Atrius Health Clinical Pharmacy Program provides clinically appropriate, evidence-based, cost-effective medication management in a multidisciplinary team setting. Our Clinical Pharmacy Program includes 15 clinical pharmacists (CPs) serving nineteen Internal Medicine and Family Medicine (IM/FM) ambulatory care practice locations. In the past four years, our program has evolved and transformed through evaluating our impact, absorbing and implementing internal feedback, and collaborating with others in the field, including NaRCAD.
Our Start. As the program manager of our ADS, I’ve seen our service grow and change. When we began our program in 2011, it was as an administrative mandate to meet with all IM/FM prescribers once per fiscal quarter to deliver messages about cost-effective prescribing and clinical quality. We started by formulating a menu of topics to cover in our ADS work each quarter, including individual clinician prescribing reports reflecting performance on prescribing initiatives from the Pharmacy & Therapeutics Committee, specific questions to survey clinicians on a clinical topic, targeted education for low performers on prescribing initiatives, and various other ‘hot topic’ clinical issues. CPs detailed individual clinicians via formal 1:1 scheduled appointments, and also did so less formally (such as by catching them in the hallways) or in larger groups during department meetings.
Is it Working? We documented our ADS activities by checking off the individual clinicians we detailed each quarter. At that time, there was no formal training for our CPs on how to conduct a detailing meeting. Unfortunately, this method of creating content for visits soon resulted in a large menu of topics so varied that each quarter’s detailing became unwieldy and too broadly focused. And our documentation, while it gave us a general sense of the number of clinicians detailed, did not tell us anything about the quality of this detailing.
Room for Improvement. Our group is fortunate in that our ADS activities have always been accepted and even expected by our IM/FM clinicians. We experienced almost no clinician resistance to our educational meetings. But in 2013, when attending one of NaRCAD’s 2-day Academic Detailing Training sessions, I learned that we could make changes to improve our services, as well as my own skills as a detailer. As a result, we altered the format of our ADS program, choosing to detail clinicians in a 1-1 or small group format of less than 4. We also selected a goal of 90% of clinicians receiving detailing at least once every quarter.
Evaluating Impact. We began evaluating the impact of the changes we’d made to our ADS, specifically choosing to look at its impact on a discretely measurable topic: reducing the unnecessary ordering of an ALT test (alanine transaminase) in patients on the ’statin’ cholesterol-lowering medications. We were able to demonstrate that our detailing of all IM/FM clinicians led to significant reductions in ALT ordering and meaningful cost avoidance for our organization.
Asking for Feedback. With NaRCAD’s support, we further refined our program in 2014 based upon feedback from an internal focus group. By soliciting honest feedback from the CPs about their detailing experiences, I discovered considerable variation in how they approached the menu of topics provided each quarter and came to understand that the continuous process of visiting with each clinician at their sites often felt stale and repetitive.
New Approach, New Results. We revised our ADS workflow to tie each round of clinician appointments directly to a specific and single P&T prescribing initiative. Furthermore, we developed a method to tag low performing clinicians for an ‘intense’ ADS visit and higher performers for a ‘touch’ ADS visit. We began this new workflow with an initiative to improve the use of evidence-based beta-blockers in patients with heart failure, a quality measure for the Medicare Pioneer Accountable Care Organization (ACO) project. Using this new approach, clinical pharmacists were able to deliver a fresh and meaningful message to the right prescribers, resulting in a change from 73.6% to 97.8%prescribing of evidence-based beta-blockers in this patient population.
Partnering with NaRCAD for Ongoing Learning. In March 2015, we coordinated with NaRCAD again, and they provided our group of clinical pharmacists with a 2.5 hour workshop to enhance our AD skills. I’d encourage anyone who does this type of educational outreach to make use of this invaluable resource. Of course, our Atrius Health Academic Detailing Service will continue to grow and change as we find additional ways to improve our workflows and messages. I look forward to continued collaboration with NaRCAD and with others in the field, so that we can all keep learning from each other and improve health outcomes through effective academic detailing.
Bio: Joy Leotsakos is a senior clinical pharmacist and the program manager for the Academic Detailing Service (ADS) of the Atrius Health Clinical Pharmacy Program. Joy joined Atrius Health in 2007 and became the program manager for the ADS program in 2012. Prior to joining Atrius Health, Joy worked as an assistant professor at Massachusetts College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences University in Boston, MA and provided ambulatory care pharmacy services to the South End Community Health Center also in Boston. Joy graduated with a Doctor of Pharmacy degree from Virginia Commonwealth University School of Pharmacy and then completed her residency in Ambulatory Care and Community Pharmacy at the University of Florida College of Pharmacy. Joy is the mother of one son, and enjoys salsa dancing, cycling and running in the summer and skiing in the winter. You can reach Joy by email at email@example.com.
Highlighting Best Practices
We highlight what's working in clinical education through interviews, features, event recaps, and guest blogs, offering clinical educators the chance to share successes and lessons learned from around the country & beyond.