Mike Fischer, MD, MS
At NaRCAD, we work together with our many partners, collaborating on important interventions to improve patient health through clinical outreach education. This summer, we’re especially looking forward to a unique collaboration to improve cardiovascular health, as we travel to Oklahoma to support the Healthy Hearts for Oklahoma project, part of AHRQ’s EvidenceNow initiative.
EvidenceNow is a group of 7 large studies across the United States working to improve cardiovascular care in small primary care practices. Along with materials development and program support, the NaRCAD team will travel to Oklahoma City in July to train over 20 health professionals, teaching them how to provide the service of academic detailing to participating practices. Focusing on the ‘ABCS’ (aspirin use, blood pressure control, cholesterol management, and smoking cessation), the professionals we train will carry out academic detailing visits in order to present best evidence to participating practices.
By using the skills and techniques of AD to assess the needs of clinicians and practices throughout Oklahoma, the detailers we train will gain commitment from clinicians to commit to practice change. The Healthy Hearts for Oklahoma project will visit hundreds of practices, tracking these practices’ behaviors over time. Ultimately, the evidence generated by Healthy Hearts and the other EvidenceNow studies will yield key insights about how best to bring evidence to diverse practice settings and improve the cardiovascular health of all Americans.
Supporting organizations that are carrying out important work such as this is at the core of who we are and what we do. The positive impact of academic detailing can be amplified with each new intervention, program, or even a single visit to a clinician. As we enter into our 5th year as the only nationally available resource center for for academic detailing, the strength of the relationships we build makes it possible for clinical outreach education to serve more practices and have a greater impact on patient health.
We’ll share highlights from the Healthy Hearts for Oklahoma project and other exciting collaborations with our subscribers this fall. In the meantime, we’d love to see you at a future Boston-based training, or at our 3rd annual International Conference on Academic Detailing this fall—join us as we work together to advance the field of clinical outreach education.
by Joy Leotsakos, PharmD
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.
by Michael Fischer, MD, MS, & Bevin K. Shagoury
Changes in healthcare are accelerating faster than ever, amplified by the immediacy of virtual communication. New research studies or guidelines appear simultaneously in traditional media, online news sites, and social media. Front-line clinicians may not have the time to review the actual data before incorporating new information into their practices. We’ve seen this recently with topics such as managing cholesterol and hypertension, the safety and possible overuse of pain medications, and new treatments for hepatitis C.
These topics present a challenge not only for clinicians and their patients, but for those who work on medical education and quality improvement efforts. Educational messages cannot be static; rather, organizations working to promote change and improvement need to identify new evidence, incorporate it into interventions and bring it to frontline clinicians. Amidst the steady stream of research and new discoveries, along with ongoing debates about those findings, how do organizations work to effectively assess needs, share best evidence, and improve healthcare outcomes?
NaRCAD is uniquely positioned to help address this question, serving as a powerful and integral link between the best evidence and frontline clinicians by supporting academic detailing programs and related outreach interventions. We’re leaders in the field, providing training and support to health care organizations to establish effective academic detailing programs, working with partners to develop academic detailing program templates which can be adopted by others, and sustaining a network of programs sharing best practices in academic detailing to improve patient health outcomes.
Evidence aside, observation and insight tells us that healthcare, like the populations it serves, is organic; constantly changing, growing, and redefining the best next steps to improve the quality of care and patient outcomes. As new medical evidence emerges and new delivery system innovations are introduced, we at NaRCAD look to help those changes enter practice in a way that most benefits patients and public health. Learn more about us, or tell us how we can help you.
Highlighting Best Practices
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