Director's Letter | Mike Fischer, MD, MS
The entire health care system is grappling with uncertainty. What will happen to the provisions of the Affordable Care Act? Will clinicians and health systems face major changes in how they are expected to provide care and how they are reimbursed? Will state and local public health agencies have support for the many initiatives undertaken in recent years?
As we wait for answers to these questions, the role of academic detailing is more important than ever. AD programs will face new challenges, and will need to understand how AD can be adapted to fit changing constraints and still have a beneficial impact on clinician engagement, the quality of care, and patient outcomes. At NaRCAD, we look at this unpredictable environment and see a mandate to collaborate and innovate, working with our partners to develop and evaluate novel ways to implement AD.
At NaRCAD, we look at this unpredictable environment and see a mandate to collaborate and innovate.
Planning for NaRCAD2017, our annual conference, is well underway, and the call for proposals is open. Submit results of your current work or your ideas for panels and breakout sessions that will let you share your work and inspire colleagues.
To keep AD growing and thriving requires an active pipeline of newly trained detailers, which we have just added to with our recent AD Techniques Training on March 30 & 31, 2017.
This spring’s training class came to Boston to learn the techniques of academic detailing in order to support important interventions, including better use of smoking cessation treatment for patients with serious mental illness, increasing HPV vaccination rates, enhanced safety of opioid prescribing, and improving the care of chronic diseases such as COPD, HIV/AIDS, diabetes, heart failure, and kidney disease.
Our trainees hailed from Canada, Brazil, and around the U.S., including South Carolina, Rhode Island, Idaho, Massachusetts, Oregon, Texas, Kentucky, Connecticut, and Colorado, bringing their unique experiences and backgrounds to 2 days filled with hands-on learning opportunities. Stay tuned for upcoming details about our Fall 2017 training, to be held this September--dates announced soon!
What continues to motivate us during times of uncertainty is working with the NaRCAD community, and we want 2017 to continue to be a year of even deeper engagement. Submit to the 2017 conference, share your ideas, suggestions, and comments on our blog, or reach out to us directly. We’re excited to continue to support your work and to build new collaborations--tell us what you need as part of our community of clinical outreach educators. -Mike
Biography. Michael Fischer, MD, MS, NaRCAD Director
Dr. Fischer is a general internist, pharmacoepidemiologist, and health services researcher. He is an Associate Professor of Medicine at Harvard and a clinically active primary care physician and educator at Brigham & Women’s Hospital. With extensive experience in designing and evaluating interventions to improve medication use, he has published numerous studies demonstrating potential gains from improved prescribing. Read more.
Jerry Avorn, MD, Co-director of NaRCAD
As I write this in mid-January, it is difficult to know how the health care system will be transformed in the coming weeks, months, and years. But one thing is clear: the new administration and Congress are intent on repealing the Affordable Care Act, and they will have the votes in Washington to do so. Despite their holding this policy position for six years, followed by a long (if issues-light) campaign season, it is not at all clear what will replace it.
But one thing is certain: the new administration is committed to reducing federal support for health care for enormous numbers of American citizens. “Better coverage and lower costs” is more bumper-sticker rhetoric than plausible policy, and doesn’t meet the basic criteria of arithmetic.
This means that all those who care for patients in the U.S., as well as policymakers, will be forced to live under the yoke of that awful cliché, “doing more with less.” (Our colleagues in Canada and overseas must be reading this message from the richest nation on earth with a mixture of horror and pity.) Appropriate clinical decision making is about to be transformed from a noble goal we should all strive for to a literal matter of life and death.
As the ranks of the uninsured and underinsured swell, prescribing a costly drug when a more inexpensive one would work as well will increasingly mean that patients without adequate coverage will simply be unable to afford treatment for their atrial fibrillation, hypertension, or heart failure. The aftermath of the November election will convert a bumpy, imperfect patchwork of coverage into a public administration catastrophe, soon to be followed by a public health debacle.
These changes will transform the active provision of evidence-based, non-commercial information about clinical care from a smart choice for quality improvement to an urgent requirement. Practitioners who care for the millions of patients whose coverage is legislated away will desperately need the very best information about comparative efficacy and cost-effectiveness.
Most of us engaged in academic detailing programs have shied away from emphasizing cost-containment as a primary feature or goal of such programs, and for good reason. But just as battlefield medicine often has to dispense with the niceties of office practice to address front-line emergencies, we will need to consider the possibility of “battlefield academic detailing” in the coming year to help deal with the widespread health care financial trauma that patients throughout the U.S. will be confronting, along with their health care professionals.
Most of us in American medicine – patients and clinicians alike – will find our hazard ratios going up, and our quality of life going down. Now more than ever, it will be imperative to communicate the best science as effectively as we can.
Biography. Jerry Avorn, MD, Co-Director of NaRCAD
Dr. Avorn is Professor of Medicine at Harvard Medical School and Chief of the Division of Pharmacoepidemiology and Pharmacoeconomics (DoPE) at Brigham & Women's Hospital. A general internist, geriatrician, and drug epidemiologist, he pioneered the concept of academic detailing and is recognized internationally as a leading expert on this topic and on optimal medication use, particularly in the elderly. Read more.
Bevin K. Shagoury, NaRCAD Communications
The excitement and breadth of content in this November’s 3rd International Conference on Academic Detailing exceed what we can capture in this blog post. The combination of exciting speakers, engaging panelists, expert breakout session leaders, and national and international attendees eager to problem-solve created a forward-thinking event that inspired all of us working on AD and related outreach educational activities. As you reflect on our event's highlights, we encourage you to access on-demand video, speaker biographies, session descriptions, and more at our Conference Hub resource page.
Kicking Day 1 off and setting the tone for the entire event, NaRCAD Director Dr. Mike Fischer warmly welcomed our packed room at Harvard Medical School’s Martin Center by encouraging collaboration, connection, and sharing. Our Day 1 Keynote Speaker Dr. Carolyn Clancy, the CMO of the Veteran’s Health Administration, described the VHA’s work to improve pain management in the veteran population while addressing the challenges of medication abuse and overdose. Dr. Clancy shared strategy and data behind the national effort and the critical role of academic detailing in it, connecting attendees to a big-picture view that can be adopted to look at other health epidemics and interventions.
Our first expert panel presented Practice Facilitation in Primary Care. Andy Ellner moderated the session, leading panelists Ann Lefebvre of North Carolina's AHEC Program, Lyndee Knox of LA Net, and Allyson Gottsman of HealthTeamWorks to discuss strategies, contextualize their work in relation to academic detailing and quality improvement, and share their personal approaches to challenges in primary care behavior change. Allyson Gottsman’s much-appreciated analogy that practice facilitation is not unlike “leading a fisherman to a well-stocked pond” resonated with panelists and participants alike. Many attendees who were actively engaged in practice facilitation in their daily work shared that the panel helped them to think about their work in a new way.
The afternoon’s breakout sessions offered attendees multiple tracks with AD-related topics to explore: deconstructing and analyzing a 1:1 AD visit, exploring the skills needed to manage an effective AD program, and strategizing on ways to identify and harness stakeholder support when initiating a new program or strengthening an existing one.
The afternoon closed with two presentations; the first, by Terryn Naumann of the Canadian Academic Detailing Collaboration (CADC), offered participants a view of the power of synergy and teamwork, the historical context of the CADC’s creation and growth, and the future of the collaboration.
The final presentation of the day was a lively one by NaRCAD’s co-founder and co-director, Dr. Jerry Avorn, who identified major obstacles to effective evidence-based communication in the current landscape of healthcare, and provided a future-centered lens through which attendees could envision how academic detailers can address these challenges. A full day of new ideas and connections culminated in a networking reception that gave attendees a chance to relax and connect socially.
Day 2’s morning opened with another engaging Keynote Speaker; Dr. Don Goldmann, CSO & CMO of the Institute for Healthcare Improvement, combined quality improvement theory with personal anecdotes, weaving in real-life examples of successful interventions to provide context and dimension to the theory that underlies all of our work.
More examples of successful practice change were illustrated by the morning’s Themed Plenary on the Intersection of Public Health and AD. Dr. Phillip Coffin of the San Francisco Department of Public Health shared the success of an intervention focusing on co-prescribing of naloxone to reverse opioid overdose deaths in San Francisco. Another successful AD intervention was presented by Michael Kharfen of the Washington D.C. Department of Health, who highlighted the successful implementation of AD programs to increase HIV and Hepatitis C screening and treatment.
The afternoon featured our second Expert Panel, this time on the role of AD within integrated healthcare systems. Moderated by Dr. Mike Fischer of NaRCAD, panelists Joy Leotsakos of Atrius Health (MA), Sameer Awsare of Kaiser Permanente Medical Group (CA), and Valerie Royal of Greenville Health System (SC) shared their experiences using AD in systems at different stages of development. Attendees had the opportunity to discuss this topic further in the afternoon’s breakout sessions, which also included a session on practice facilitation, as well as third session to continue to explore AD and public health partnerships.
The conference’s closing discussion was led by Mike Fischer, who thanked not only the speakers, panelists, and session leaders, but the participants, whose willingness to share their experiences within an interactive setting was key in creating solutions to bring back to use in their daily work. The creative collaborations, exchange of resources, excitement in combating challenges in the field, and belief in the importance of AD for the future of healthcare transformation were felt by all at the closing of a very full and thought-provoking event.
Our Twitter feed tracks the event’s highlights through #NaRCAD2015, and you can catch our event photo album on our Facebook page. We invite you to explore these topics, learn about our speakers and attendees, and connect with us at the NaRCAD Conference Hub, where you can access on-demand video of all main sessions from the conference. Thank you again to all who attended, and to AHRQ for funding our series. Please stay in touch with us and each other, and continue the conversation and idea sharing below.
We hope to see you in 2016!
Spring 2015 Director’s Letter
Mike Fischer, MD, MS, Director of NaRCAD
Despite the difficult winter weather in Boston, NaRCAD has been off to a great start so far this year. We’ve been very excited to begin several new initiatives with terrific partners. As we move forward through 2015 and beyond, we invite those of you reading our newsletter and following us through our blog or on social media to reach out about working together on similar efforts.
Training academic detailers is a core part of our mission, and we continue to have full registrations for our Boston-based training sessions, telling us that there’s an interest and a demand for our training course. This year we were thrilled to take our training on the road for the first time, working with the San Francisco Department of Public Health on several new initiatives, focusing on diverse topics including overdose prevention, increasing use of vaccinations in pregnancy, and HIV screening and treatment. This July, we’ll again deliver training outside of Boston, this time in Oklahoma to help support a new AHRQ-funded project aimed at improving care for cardiovascular risk factors in primary care.
We also created and launched a new workshop for the experienced group of academic detailers at Atrius Health here in Boston. Similarly to our 2-day techniques training, we used role play and interactive group discussion to help clinical pharmacists work on overcoming barriers and obstacles. Interacting with Atrius’s dedicated group of outreach educators has all of us thinking about how academic detailers can best maintain and develop their skills over time, and we’re interested in hearing about how existing programs approach this challenge. If you have similar experiences to share, let us know—we’re always eager to share best practices with our network community of detailers, programs, and supporters.
We want to hear from you. Your ideas matter–tell us how you’d like to collaborate, create new opportunities for academic detailing, and improve quality of care and patient outcomes.
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.
by Arielle Mather, MPH, Education & Training Manager
On November 13th and 14th, 2014 NaRCAD hosted the Second International Conference on Academic Detailing. The focus of this year’s conference was on educational outreach in an era of rapid health care reform, with perspectives from prominent figures in government, research, and business. The conference explored a pressing clinical theme on each day, including presentations of academic detailing programs currently addressing these topics in the field.
After Dr. Jerry Avorn, NaRCAD’s co-director, opened the conference with a review of the past, present, and future of academic detailing, Dr. Joshua Sharfstein, Maryland Secretary of the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, discussed the challenges of improving health care and outcomes for the residents of his state. Jean Slutsky, Chief Engagement and Dissemination Officer of the Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute (PCORI) reviewed the key principles for effectively communicating research results that improve patient health outcomes.
The clinical theme for Day 1 was prescription opioid use and overuse. Dr. Harry Chen, Vermont Secretary of the Agency of Human Services set the stage by reviewing the origins of current problems with opioid use and sharing details of his state’s initiatives for prescribing pain medication. This talk was followed by an interactive panel session that highlighted two academic detailing programs (in South Carolina and New Mexico) seeking to reduce opioid overuse and abuse. Small group breakout sessions allowed for more detailed conversation about these programs and other specific topics.
Day 2 of the conference began with an overview of the business case for evidence based practice, presented by Dr. Troyen Brennan, Chief Medical Officer of CVS Health. Daniel Wolfson of the American Board of Internal Medicine Foundation, followed with a presentation on the Choosing Wisely campaign, which is designed to engage clinicians in the critical questions of how to make healthcare safer and more efficient. Dr. Alice Bonner of Northeastern University began the conversation of the day 2 clinical theme: antipsychotic medication use in long term care. After Dr. Bonner’s introduction, two ongoing academic detailing programs (in Massachusetts and Saskatchewan, Canada) aimed at addressing this problem shared their insights.
The challenge of sustaining academic detailing programs was addressed by Frank May, who has successfully implemented programs in multiple settings internationally. Dr. Madeleine Biondolillo, Associate Commissioner at the Massachusetts Department of Public Health, made the final presentation, reviewing how academic detailing fits in with the other approaches that the state uses to improve health. In addition to the formal sessions, conference attendees from 15 US states, Canada, Europe, and Australia had a chance to interact informally, share ideas about academic detailing, and develop connections that will help support increased collaboration in the future.
The third installment of this AHRQ funded conference series will be held next year in November 2015. Finalized dates and registration information will be announced in the coming months. If you would like specific slide sets from any of the conference presentations, please email us.
Highlighting Best Practices
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