Jerry Avorn, MD, NaRCAD Co-Director
Often, in discussing academic detailing programs with current or potential sponsors, the question comes up: “Wouldn’t it be cheaper just to deliver the message to a whole group of clinicians at once, instead of the much more cumbersome process of talking to prescribers one at a time?” Sure, it would be cheaper.
So would just mailing (or e-mailing) memos to people telling them what to do, or requiring time-consuming groveling on 1-800-DROP-DEAD prior authorization numbers before a costly resource can be ordered. The problem is that cheaper solutions often don’t work, or don’t work well. We have decades of proof that putting health care professionals together in a darkened auditorium and subjecting them to a PowerPoint Tolerance Test does not reliably change behavior.
The main reason that academic detailing relies on one-on-one interactive communication is that it is the best way for the outreach educator to accomplish several key goals:
Well-trained academic detailers understand this, and they use the interactivity to craft a real-time, care-improvement message that best addresses the learning needs (and attitudes and biases!) of the person they’re visiting. Less competent academic detailers force their “targets” to sit still while they administer a canned micro-lecture monologue, which works poorly. They may feel they “got through all the points” they wanted to cover, but if there was no interactivity, no conversation, then the person they were talking at might as well have been falling asleep in a darkened amphitheatre.
We know this is the case from decades of experience and scores of randomized controlled trials. We also know, perhaps most compellingly, that when the drug industry wants to change what we know and about its products, it sends people to our offices to talk with us—it doesn’t rely only on the less expensive modalities of mailings, e-messages, and sponsored lectures.
So the next time someone suggests that it might be more inexpensive to just gather prescribers into a big room and have someone talk at them for an hour, agree with them. Then point out that it’s also less time-intensive to scarf down a Big Mac than eat a real meal, shoot off a series of emoticons rather than a personalized note, or listen to a ring tone of a Beethoven sonata rather than hear it performed by musicians. Cheaper isn’t everything.
Mike Fischer, MD, MS, NaRCAD Director
NaRCAD is thriving, thanks to the engagement and enthusiasm of our network of healthcare professionals working to improve patient outcomes. The best way to become more involved in that network is to join us for our 3rd International Conference on Academic Detailing. This year’s conference will be our most exciting and interactive event to date, with a stimulating 2-day program bringing together thought leaders for expert panels, best practices, breakout tracks, networking, and invigorating group discussions on innovations in the field.
Our keynote presentations will provide critical insights for everyone working to improve healthcare quality and patient outcomes. On Monday, Nov. 9th, Dr. Carolyn Clancy, Chief Medical Officer of the Veterans Health Administration, will highlight the VA’s use of academic detailing to address the epidemic of opioid overdose and misuse to save veteran’s lives. On Tuesday, Nov. 10th, Dr. Don Goldmann, Chief Medical and Scientific Officer at the Institute for Healthcare Improvement, will provide his insights on how to engage front-line clinicians in committing to change – drawing on IHI’s years of experience in promoting patient safety.
Many questions about academic detailing still need to be explored, new ideas generated, and connections made. We
need to foster solution-based discussion from a wide range of voices, representing clinical education, public health, practice transformation, government, the non-profit sector, hospital networks, academic institutions, and others. But the most important ingredient for the success of this event is you.
Join us as we work together to discover solutions, connect you with others that can amplify your impact and elevate your work, and share your experiences and insights on the best ways to navigate a rapidly-changing healthcare landscape. We hope you’ll join us this November 9th and 10th, and that you’ll help us spread the news about this unique, transformative event. See you in November!
Bevin K. Shagoury, Communications & Education Director
Our most recent 2-day Academic Detailing Techniques Training was held here in Boston on May 4th and 5th, 2015, and it was a successful and exciting convening of 18 trainees from all over the country. Clinical pharmacists, nurses, and program specialists gathered in Boston’s downtown to learn and practice social marketing techniques to use when educating front line clinicians about new evidence and important interventions.
Our trainees will take these valuable skills back to a wide range of programs, with goals including improving health for veterans with PTSD, increasing referrals to smoking cessation programs, and strengthening chronic disease lifestyle management programs.
Many of us have attended trainings and conferences heavy on Powerpoint presentations and light on practicing tangible skills. At NaRCAD, we use a dynamic curriculum wherein we integrate role-play, interactive large and small-group discussion, live demonstrations of a successful academic detailing visit, reflection through videography, ongoing networking, and the chance to learn from experts, clinicians, and colleagues through practice and skills sharing.
After their training sessions are done, trainees move forward to establish new academic detailing programs, strengthen and develop existing ones, or use our techniques in other clinical education settings. And as their work continues, so does ours—we maintain contact with our trainees, providing critical resources and featuring their work on our website and DETAILS blog. This fall, we’ll be featuring partner profiles of many of our trainees’ academic detailing programs, so that our community can learn about the critical role these programs play in improving health outcomes.
Join us at our next training this September—a program one recent trainee describes as “an excellent program, with fabulous faculty, and a well-run, valuable service to the healthcare community.” We keep improving our curriculum to ensure that each of our trainees gets personalized support to make their work easier. Their appreciation and feedback helps us to refine our training, encouraging us to think about ways we can continue to provide the best resources available. As the field continues to grow, so do we—and our trainees tell us that we’re making an impact by leveraging their work, sharing best practices, and running “the best training I’ve ever been to—seriously!”
by Bevin K. Shagoury, Communications & Education Director
NaRCAD spent January 12th and 13th, 2015 with the enthusiastic and talented public health professionals of the San Francisco Department of Public Health(SFDPH), teaching them the principles and practice of AD. As with our prior trainings, the main goal was to ensure that trainees can understand and effectively practice AD techniques. This collaboration with SFDPH served as our first “on the road” training, providing an opportunity for our staff and facilitators to look closely at how to customize AD training to meet the needs of public health workers.
The SFDPH participants are developing and implementing programs to address needs in several important areas, including immunization programs, viral hepatitis outreach, HIV screening, reducing the risk of opioid overdose, and perinatal care. Like many of our prior trainees, this group was eager to learn about how to adapt the innovative, service-delivery model of AD to improve health outcomes by communicating effectively with front-line clinicians.
Throughout the training, SFDPH trainees and NaRCAD staff joined in brainstorming ways to implement novel strategies and techniques in their respective clinical areas to strengthen program successes, expand impact, and achieve long-term practice changes in San Francisco.
With academic detailing in their arsenal of intervention tools to change clinician behavior for the better, we look forward to seeing the ways in which our partners at SFDPH will improve health outcomes for the people of San Francisco.
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.