Overview: Harald Langaas speaks with NaRCAD about his experiences in co-founding Norway’s first national AD program, KUPP. KUPP, which loosely stands for “Knowledge-Based Updating Visits” in Norwegian, has been actively serving Norwegian General Practitioners (GPs) for several years.
by: Winnie Ho, Program Coordinator
Tags: Chronic Illness, Detailing Visits, Evaluation, International, Program Management
Winnie: Hi Harald, thank you for joining us all the way from Norway to talk about KUPP, the Norwegian Academic Detailing program! Can you tell us a little bit more about yourself and the work that KUPP does?
Harald: I’m a pharmacist by training, with experience in working at hospital pharmacies and as a pharmacy manager in the private sector. My interest has always been in how to better provide independent information about the use of medicines to healthcare professionals to improve the quality of healthcare. I work for one of the four Regional Medicines Informational Centers in Norway, one for each of the four health regions.
The Norwegian AD Program is strongly connected with those Centers, so my position is split between the regional center and as Director of KUPP, which operates at the national level. KUPP is a small organization – it’s myself and a consultant in clinical pharmacology handling the administration of AD.
W: I can absolutely see why AD fits a lot of your interests! Let’s talk about how KUPP got its start. You were part of the founding of a brand new AD program. What was that like, and what did you learn?
H: My colleague Roar Dyrkorn had visited Australia, met the NaRCAD team in Boston, and was very inspired by AD. He saw it as an opportunity to improve the quality of prescribing in primary care and began lobbying to acquire funding for an AD program.
Our first campaign in 2015 was put together within a month or two, focusing on NSAIDs (Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs) for GPs. We were extremely fortunate to have Debra Rowett from Australia, who has been pioneering AD in Adelaide for many years, fly out to train our first detailers because we were still novices to this work. This campaign went quickly – maybe too quickly -- but we were able to implement it well, and we had success with the campaign. We’ve been continuing to detail ever since.
W: You also mentioned that Norway is divided into four health regions. Can you tell us a little bit more about these regions and the communities that you serve in each?
H: The four jurisdictions, all funded and overseen by the government, are responsible for hospital services in that region. However, primary care services are overseen at the national level. In each region, KUPP has between 5-10 people that are trained as detailers and conduct visits in addition to working at the Regional Medicines Information Centers or at a Clinical Pharmacology department at a hospital.
W: On average, how many clinicians does KUPP work with per year?
H: There are about 5,000 total GPs in Norway, and we visit between 1,000-1,200 GPs a year, which is about 20%. We have limited resources while trying to reach as many providers as we can nationally. For the funding we have, we’re happy with our work, but of course, we are ambitious! We want to be able to visit everybody.
W: That’s a pretty sizable population that you reach, especially on limited resources! Can you provide some context about Norway’s healthcare system that help us better understand the context in which KUPP operates?
H: In Norway, we have universal healthcare, which is fully funded by the government. It means that our healthcare system is quite homogenous across the country. The GPs that we focus on are mostly self-employed, but fully funded by the government. This does mean that when we make arrangements to schedule detailing visits, we have to contact GPs one at a time.
They have no financial incentive to see us, and since we take up their time instead of them seeing a patient, they actually lose money by seeing us. This means that we have to ensure that a visit from us is useful and that it’s a valuable investment towards improving the treatment of their patients. We keep all visits to 30 minutes or less.
Another important thing to mention is that patients are designated to their GPs. You can’t shop around for providers, so you have to see the same one each time or apply to change to another one. This means that a GP follows their patients for a long period of time, and have a lot of history with their patients.
W: That’s useful background information to know about. Since patients often stay with the same and only GP, how does that impact a GP’s insight into their patient population?
H: Because of the long shared history, it means that when we are talking with clinicians, they know their patient pool very well. Even when a GP has taken over a practice, they will be very knowledgeable about who they are serving.
W: I imagine that when detailing on chronic conditions, this is an advantage because a GP and a detailer can follow a patient population over time and offer continuous support! Now, we’ve been able to follow KUPP’s work for a while, especially with a lot of your recent presentations and research. How are things going with research and evaluation lately?
H: It’s always been useful for us to evaluate and publish our results, especially when we approach the government for more funding. While we can’t do every campaign as a research project, I’ve been working on evaluating a campaign we did on diabetes and also a study on the impact of group visits vs. 1:1 detailing.
We’re also working on a small qualitative evaluation of our virtual visits at the moment. It’s been exciting to be contacted by other research groups who want to work with us. It’s really inspiring for us to know there are groups who want to learn more about AD because of us, and that we’re being noticed and seen as a good research partner.
W: It’s always exciting to see where AD travels and how many borders it can cross. We always learn more because the AD community is constantly growing and innovating. As someone who has been at the forefront of establishing AD abroad, what are your hopes for the international AD community at large?
H: I would sure hope to see more AD programs emerging in Europe. It would be very helpful to fully connect the AD initiatives that are ongoing around us, to build the same kind of network that North America has had between the United States and Canada.
W: We hope to see more programs emerge too! Last question – any final words of advice for detailers and programs?
H: The main advice would be to not give up. There will be resistance, and you will run into some troubles, but keep on working. If you believe in the method, and you believe in the work you do, it will pay off. The 1:1 approach is something that separates AD from other tactics, and makes it easier for both clinicians and funding organizations to see you as unique. This work is worth it.
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Harald Langaas has been the director of a hospital-based medicines information centre (RELIS) in Trondheim, Norway since 2013. Together with colleagues at St. Olavs Hospital he started the first academic detailing program in Norway in 2015, and has been involved in AD work both as administrator and active detailer since then. Since 2018 he has been the director for KUPP – The Norwegian Academic Detailing Program. He is currently working on a PhD based on evaluation of academic detailing.
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