Director’s Letter: Mike Fischer, MD, MS
The opioid crisis has been recognized as a major national public health problem, but it actually reflects a collection of many thousands of local crises playing out in individual cities and counties. Each region faces a distinctive set of challenges, driven by economic and social factors, local medical practice patterns, political environment and pressures, and many other considerations.
Identifying and implementing effective solutions to address the opioid crisis requires developing an understanding of how these individual challenges interact, and what strategies are most effective in specific situations--one of which is academic detailing.
The NaRCAD team is partnering with the CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) and NACCHO (the National Association of City and County Health Officials) on an exciting pilot program working with local health officials to develop customized interventions to reduce opioid overdose and death. Four sites experiencing significant public health problems related to opioids were selected: Boone County, Kentucky; Bell County, West Virginia; Manchester, New Hampshire; and Dayton, Ohio.
Public health officials at each site identified a wide range of local stakeholders to participate in developing a community action plan and recruited trainees to complete NaRCAD’s academic detailing training course, which we customized to address the unique challenges that each community faces. We also developed a specialized online toolkit for these sites, including discussion boards, local resources, and printable resources.
We traveled to each site in March and April of this year, facilitating hands-on trainings in the techniques of academic detailing in alignment with the CDC prescribing guidelines. Trainees came from diverse backgrounds, including pharmacists, nurses, public health officials, and students in the health professions, including pharmacy students, dental students, and medical school students.
Plans for implementing AD varied by site depending on the local health care environment; some sites focused more heavily on appropriate prescribing of opioids by clinicians, while others prioritized increasing referral rates for patients with opioid use disorder (OUD), including access to medication-assisted treatment (MAT).
As the AD trainees at each pilot site continue their work in the field, we’ll learn more about how these diverse strategies succeed, and how we can support adaptations to make academic detailing more impactful. This important collaboration has allowed us to form invaluable partnerships with CDC and NACCHO, leveraging national resources to improve local responses to this epidemic through plans that respond more precisely to local needs and priorities.
We’re excited for this pilot program to serve as a model for future opioid safety AD interventions, and we’ll be providing updates here on the blog. In the meantime, tell us: what's happening in your local community around the opioid crisis? Sound off in the comments section below, and let us know if you think clinician-facing education could be a strategy that would improve outcomes for your community. And join us for our next training and our terrific annual conference to learn more about this and other exciting AD projects.
Michael Fischer, MD, MS | Director of NaRCAD
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.
Guest Blogger: Monica Mais, MSN, FNP
Family Nurse Practioner/Academic Detailer
California Opioid Safety Network, Fairchild Medical Clinic
NaRCAD Training Alumnus
In 2011, I went from 15 years as an Emergency Room nurse to a new role as a Family Nurse Practitioner in a rural healthcare setting. I couldn’t believe the amounts of prescribed opioids that were coming out of our little clinic—the average chronic pain patient was receiving 240 Morphine Equivalents/day (MEDs), and many of these patients had been receiving these medications for years without oversight. In 2013 I introduced an evidence-based protocol and policy for safe prescribing of Opiates for Chronic Non-Cancer Pain (CNCP).
However, patients who could not obtain opiates from our clinic quickly moved on to the clinic across town. This influx of opiate seeking patients was reason for concern from those receiving clinics. My colleagues and I opened our doors to neighboring clinics and providers and began sharing our policies and successes. Many other area clinics started adapting our policies to their own practice, reducing their opiate prescribing as well.
We formed a coalition called Siskiyou Against Rx Abuse (SARA), and based on our previous successes, we were all shocked to see data showing our county was among the highest opioid prescriptions per capita in California, and had a high overdose rate per capita, despite our efforts. Clearly, more needed to be done! Our coalition facilitator, Maggie Shepard, RN, along with our medical director, Dr. Sam Rabinowitz, and myself were all invited to attend training to become Academic Detailers in San Francisco with the San Francisco Department of Public Health, a partner with NaRCAD, the National Resource Center for Academic Detailing.
We did scripting and role-playing throughout the training, learning the important social marketing and communication skills needed to conduct a personalized visit with a provider where the goal would be to change behaviors to continue to promote safe opioid prescribing, Naloxone, and Buprenorphine out to providers in our area.
During the training, I was videotaped during a practice role-play, which was very helpful, as it reminded me to speak more slowly, and to organize my key messages and talking points. After the training, getting our detailing program into the field involved a step-by-step process.
Here are important things to consider that have worked well for my detailing process:
I plan to continue AD throughout 2018. I believe we have experiences that we can share to encourage our colleagues to make positive changes in in their prescribing habits. Academic Detailing works due to mutual respect of one another’s experiences, professionalism, and willingness to receive new information—it’s an excellent way to foster change within a system!
Monica Mais, MSN, FNP
Family Nurse Practioner/Academic Detailer, Fairchild Medical Clinic
Monica Mais is a Board Certified Family Nurse Practitioner working at an FQHC in Siskiyou County, located in far Northern California on the Oregon border. She is a founding member of Siskiyou Against Rx Abuse, member of the California Opioid Safety Network and an X-Waived prescriber, working with chronic pain and opioid dependent patients. As a former Emergency Room Nurse for 15 years, many of Monica’s shifts involved witnessing overdoses, drug-seeking behavior, violence, desperation, and healthcare worker burnout. It had been escalating every year to its current crisis level, and Monica wanted to be part of the solution to this heartbreaking epidemic. Questions on this piece for Monica Mais? Contact her at email@example.com, or leave your thoughts in the discussion forum below.
As the Public Health Education Specialist for the WIC (Women, Infants & Children) program and the Opioid Task Force in Butte County, California, Stacy Piper, CLEC, acts as a regional liaison with the medical community as well as coalition's and various community partners. Learn more about Stacy in the bio at the end of this piece.
NaRCAD: Hi, Stacy! Thanks for joining us. Tell us a little bit about your work—we understand you, like many folks in public health, wear multiple hats.
As the Butte County Public Health Education Specialist for the WIC (Women, Infants & Children) program and the Opioid Task Force in Butte County, I act as a liaison with the medical community. I collaborate with hospitals, health care providers, public health programs, and community organizations to improve public health and continuity of care.
NaRCAD: Talk to us about detailing for the opioid crisis—you do this 1/4th of your time. How did you get started?
After providing educational detailing for the WIC Program funded at 30 hours a week, I was asked to be an Opioid Academic Detailer for Butte County. In preparation, I attended the Academic Detailer Training in San Francisco. The training provided by the CA Health Department, San Francisco Public Health Department's Substance Use Research Unit, and NaRCAD was one of the finest training experiences - even after the countless hours of extremely comprehensive training I received in the Pharmaceutical Industry.
Regarding impact on a local level, it is indescribable how every interaction with a healthcare provider is beneficial. Academic Detailing (AD) is an equal exchange of information. I consider it a huge responsibility, and a privilege, to be an educator for doctors and medical professionals.
I prefer the word “educator” instead of “detailer” because I have concerns that a “detailer” may be initially viewed as a salesperson. I love and respect that AD is not driven by attempting to influence medical professionals for personal gain. It’s all about helping providers improve health outcomes in patients with the entire focus of the conversation about the real people in their practice that need help.
NaRCAD: Tell us a little about your background in pharma, and how this translates to your detailing work now.
I was a Senior Executive Pharmaceutical Sales Representative for 15 years in Northern California, advocating for immunizations and promoting various prescription drugs. This provided first-hand experience of the astonishing evolution in the Medical, Pharmacy, and Insurance industries. Understanding the basic dynamics of medical offices has helped me navigate and gain access at a quicker pace for AD. Also, understanding the business acumen component of running a medical practice has proven to be valuable in my recent interactions.
NaRCAD: You mentioned that you’re committed to providing value for clinicians and patients alike. Talk to us about how you share key messages with the clinicians you visit.
In my experience, to truly influence the behavior of a highly-educated and experienced individual, you must come to the table with the goal of learning. With attentive listening, you ‘hear’ the medical professional, and process what you have learned. Your intuition will guide you to ask the appropriate, insightful questions needed to evaluate his/her priorities and challenges. This is a beautiful thing, because trust starts to blossom and the partnership has begun.
You can then confidently tailor key messages, valuable resources and solutions that are closely tied to those needs and challenges you uncovered. You should begin to see the individual’s genuine desire to truly change behavior and habits.
NaRCAD: Talking about opioids is a sensitive topic. What’s some of the typical pushback you get from clinicians you detail about opioid safety?
The response to academic detailing really depends on the situation and the type of clinician and/or establishment I am working with. Sharing local opioid statistics compared to our state statistics is an eye opener! I try to paint real life pictures by telling true stories.
For example, I’m honest about my own family members who were innocently caught up in this crisis, including the true story about the day my sister’s husband accidentally took his prescribed opioid medication twice. My sister lost her husband that day.
NaRCAD: Along with telling true stories, how do you handle pushback and stay positive, encouraging clinicians to pivot?
Time, or lack of time, is the biggest culprit in keeping physicians from attempting to personally assist in ending the addiction cycle for patients. I passionately believe clinicians need more time with people on opioids.
It takes several visits with an office to start moving in the right direction. Working with the medical assistants, nurses, and/ office managers is a key component. They can often have influence, give advice or insight, and even advocate when you are not there.
Also, I review our county’s Safe Prescribing Guidelines. If clinicians cannot institute all items in the guidelines, I ask providers to choose what they can commit to doing and to think about some specific patients they can work with. I also ask them to consider prescribing Naloxone for patients on high doses of opioids (above 50 morphine milligram equivalents).
NaRCAD: What would you share with new detailers who are about to go into the field and use AD to tackle the opioid crisis?
I have a few reminders and tips for detailers:
Stacy M. Piper, CLEC, Public Health Educational Specialist
Butte County California Public Health Department
As a Public Health Education Specialist, Stacy was chosen to work with two CA State grant funded programs educating Medical Professionals, Hospitals and Community Organizations for the WIC Program and the Opioid Drug Abuse Prevention Program. She maintains an active involvement with the Butte County Opioid Task Force, as well as the Butte County Drug Addiction Prevention Coalition, ACE’s Coalition (Trauma Informed), Breastfeeding Roundtable Coalition, Butte County Breastfeeding Coalition, Mother Strong Coalition, and Perinatal Coalition. Stacy has had extensive training with the California Department of Public Health's Opioid Stewardship & Chronic Pain Detailing Program, ID Training, UCSD CLE (Certified Lactation Educator), Coalition & Equity Training, Advocacy Training and holds 14 years of ongoing training & certification in the Pharmaceutical Industry. She is a member of the team coordinating and orchestrating the 2018 Northern California Opioid Summit.
We've been staying busy here at NaRCAD this spring! With public health challenges like the opioid crisis, and the continued need for HIV prevention, the team here at NaRCAD has been on the road for 5 trainings in 6 weeks, and we're not stopping yet!
On February 14th - 16th, 2018, NaRCAD joined the amazing teams at San Francisco Department of Public Health and the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene for an exciting initiative: A Public Health Detailing Institute on HIV PrEP and RAPID.
Hosted in San Francisco's South Market neighborhood, 31 trainees attended, representing diverse public health departments from Texas, Connecticut, Alaska, Louisiana, Florida, Tennessee, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Mississippi, Michigan, Oregon, Nevada, Virginia, and beyond. These trainees joined the institute for a customized, 3-day event focusing on learning the techniques of academic detailing, along with showcasing best practices and success stories via special presentations and expert panels.
This past month, from March 7th through April 4th, 2018, NaRCAD hit the road four more times, as part of an exciting 4-site pilot project in partnership with our terrific colleagues at the CDC (Center for Disease Control) and NACCHO (The National Association of County and City Health Officials).
Upon identifying counties and cities with the highest burden of fatal and non-fatal opioid overdose and high prescribing rates, the CDC selected Bell County, Kentucky; Boone County, West Virginia; Manchester, New Hampshire; and Dayton, Ohio as 4 pilot sites in which to convene with key community stakeholders and roll out community action plans, along with targeted academic detailing interventions.
Our work has involved launching on-location trainings at each of these pilot sites, focusing on providing front line clinicians with tools and support to improve outcomes for patients.
Messaging and support for these campaigns include lowering prescribing rates, referring patients to treatment for opioid use disorder (OUD) including Medication Assisted Training (MAT), and using their state's PDMP (Prescription Drug Monitoring Program) to identify troubling patterns of use, which may, in turn, help to identify those patients who need more support and care.
Trainees at each site of these pilot sites work with us across two days to learn the structure of an academic detailing visit, practice role playing 1:1 visits with clinicians, and become experts at using educational materials (including a suite of materials constructed by the CDC based on their 2016 Opioid Prescribing Guidelines).
Our pilot site trainees walk away from our trainings ready to actively engage with clinicians to assess individual needs and provide customized support, and encourage behavior change for the opioid crisis in their respective communities.
NaRCAD's team will continue to focus on launching new academic detailing interventions across the U.S. well into 2018, with upcoming opioid-specific trainings being carried out in late May in Albuquerque, New Mexico, with the University of New Mexico's Health Sciences Center, and in late June in Lansing, Michigan, with the Michigan Public Health Institute.
Our next all-topic, AD techniques training in Boston will kick off at the end of this month, where we'll train 24 health professionals from across the U.S.--we'll report back after that training and share lessons learned, highlights, slide decks, and clinical topics from represented programs, and we look forward to sharing those with our community.
Join our subscription list to receive alerts for upcoming training opportunities. Want to customize a clinical topic-specific training for 15 trainees or more, on site in your community? Reach out to us to schedule a training consultation call at firstname.lastname@example.org.
We can't wait to work with you!
-The NaRCAD Team
Guest Blog | Alyson Decker, NP, MPH | San Francisco Department of Public Health
Our AD program is part of a 3-year demonstration project (CDC Project PrIDE), and as part of our grant-funded work our overarching goal is increasing PrEP access and prescribing to MSM (men who have sex with men) of color and transgender persons who are at substantial risk of acquiring HIV. Our goals include improving sexual health in the primary care setting, refining sexual health history-taking, increasing screening and testing for those with risks, promoting best practices around PrEP prescribing, and helping to establish relationships between our health department and our community providers.
The added benefit of public health detailing is that it also increases awareness about the issues that affect our community. I have been inviting clinicians that I meet to join us in our city-wide Getting to Zero consortium, which helps providers feel that they are part of this important movement of preventing HIV transmissions, deaths, and stigma.
In San Francisco, there is a need for urgency around this issue, especially because it’s become evident that as HIV transmissions continue to decrease, the disparities among new HIV positive diagnoses become more apparent. Many of these disparities are among communities who still may not be aware of PrEP, or are facing barriers to access. Our academic detailing program strives to reach the providers who work with these vulnerable communities.
When kicking off an intervention such as this, identifying the clinicians who see this target population is the first step. To do this, we used STD surveillance data to determine which providers and clinics were diagnosing syphilis and rectal gonorrhea and chlamydia, which are associated with an increased risk for HIV. However, since many providers are not performing appropriate screenings, we also reached out to clinics known to serve our priority population and those located in neighborhoods with the highest HIV incidences.
The next step is how to “get in the door” with these clinicians, which means finding a way to secure a 1:1 visit. I’ve found that initial non-responsiveness isn’t the end of the world—persistence pays off, so keep trying to get in the door, or find an entry point through other community contacts. Sometimes, choosing a different access point can really work well to start a relationship. There are many places where 1:1 visits aren’t feasible due to clinic structure or culture. If I’m able to detail to a small group, it can be a way to meet with a few providers and gain insight about how PrEP might be incorporated or enhanced in their setting.
Being invited to an all-staff meeting is often an excellent way to kick off an introduction to this important intervention, and can result in follow-up conversations with individual clinicians. One benefit of meeting in small groups is that if a clinician hears a fellow clinician say that he or she is already prescribing PrEP, there may be more openness to discussing the topic; other providers might feel comforted in having a PrEP "ally", resulting in buy-in from the clinic overall.
Some clinicians may think that this type of intervention isn’t relevant to their patient population; as I detailer, I often hear responses such as, “I don’t see this population reflected in my practice,” or “My patients don’t have this risk,”, even if it’s been proven that these clinics do, indeed, serve priority populations. In order to talk about PrEP, you first have to talk about risks for HIV, which often means talking about sex. I think there can be discomfort on both the patient and provider side, and sex is often still a stigmatized topic. There are also overarching resource barriers, including the fact that clinicians are extremely busy and have to address competing health needs in the primary care setting.
While a small pool of clinicians have minimal understanding of PrEP, and require a basic overview about elements like identifying potential PrEP candidates, how to take a good sexual history, and how to bring up PrEP in an appointment, I’ve found that many clinicians are aware to some extent about PrEP already, and are interested in next-level details about how to implement it. This might include what kind of testing is recommended, how to increase number of basic screens, and increasing their knowledge about comprehensive health.
There are also providers who are very advanced in their knowledge of what options are available to populations with risks for HIV. This is where the academic detailing becomes more intricate; some providers are seeing lots of patients with risk factors, and may have been prescribing PrEP already. In a scenario such as this, my messaging focuses more on how to support clinicians in ensuring consistent follow-up with their patients, or in how to deal with multiple risk factors, such as when high-risk sexual behavior may overlap with instances of substance use or homelessness.
For those who are just getting started, it may help to know that even after meeting with 300 providers, I still get nervous each time I prepare to detail, especially if I’m unfamiliar with a practice. Regardless of the nature of my visits, I walk away feeling that I’ve accomplished something if I’ve answered only one question that’s helped the clinician with his or her practice. And I’ve found that in most cases, the people I meet with are very thankful for this service, and are appreciative of the health department. I always thank providers for the work they do and remind them what an important role they have in the community.
Biography. Alyson Decker, NP, MPH
Alyson Decker is a Clinical Prevention Consultant and nurse practitioner with Disease Prevention & Control at the San Francisco Department of Public Health. As the branch’s lead academic detailer, she helped develop San Francisco’s first HIV pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) detailing program. Her role consists of detailing with community providers to increase PrEP prescribing in the primary care setting and promote best prescribing practices. In addition, she provides training assistance to healthcare providers and frontline staff around improving sexual healthcare and STD testing and treatment. She also sees patients at the municipal sexual health clinic, San Francisco City Clinic.
Mike Fischer, MD, MS, NaRCAD Director
Fall is the season for conferences, and the most exciting one for us is #NaRCAD2017: Combatting Threats to Optimal Care!
This year’s conference is a great chance for everyone interested in AD to learn more, whether you’re part of a long-standing program or just beginning to learn about the versatility and effectiveness of implementing this strategy to improve health outcomes. Our agenda is up, so take a peek, and register if you haven’t yet!
The keynote presentations will provide critical insights for creating and sustaining AD programs in different settings. Dr. Zoe Edelstein will kick off Day 1’s programming, representing the New York Department of Health and Mental Hygiene. This keynote will teach us about their public health detailing intervention to increase use of HIV pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP). The New York program was originally founded in 2002, so Dr. Edelstein’s presentation will help anyone from a public health background understand how to both develop and sustain AD, and to adapt it for new and pressing health challenges.
Dr. Carol Havens from Kaiser Permanente will provide a detailed overview of the longest-running AD program in the US, a program that was developed with input from Jerry Avorn soon after the original AD studies were published.
We look forward to being inspired by lessons learned from a leading integrated health care system’s ongoing commitment to improving the quality of care around opioid safety with clinical outreach education.
The rest of our conference agenda draws almost entirely from proposals submitted by members of our NaRCAD network – we received twice as many proposals this year!
We’re looking forward to our “Field Presentations” sessions, featuring empiric results from detailers on the ground; expert panelists from the CDC, state departments of public health, and clinical care sharing important impressions on clinician stigma on the critical issues of HIV prevention and opioid safety; and breakout sessions covering many of the practical issues and challenges that detailers face when bringing best evidence to clinicians. Of course, for many of us, the highlight of each conference is the annual update from Jerry Avorn on the state of AD--see his recent blog piece, “Who Do You Trust?” for a preview of what’s to come!
The NaRCAD team is excited by the knowledge that integral opportunities, connections, and partnerships will be created at our unique 2-day event. But as excited as our team and our extended community may be about the conference, it’s not the only terrific development underway at NaRCAD this fall. We’ve continued to provide training and support for groups from around the country and the globe, with 2 trainings in the techniques of AD this past September, and more planned this fall and winter! Keep your eyes on our Training Series page for the official announcement of our Spring 2018 AD techniques training, and contact us at any time about opportunities and resources to support your AD program.
See you soon,
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.
Guest Blogger: Deborah Monaghan, MD
Public Health/Academic Detailer
Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment
NaRCAD Training Alumnus
As the first and only detailer hired by the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment, which serves 5.6 million people (about 3 million of which cluster around one metro area), the idea of building a detailing program from the ground up was incredibly exciting…and daunting. From the outset, it was important to determine the place of detailing within the community and establish its fit in the department’s mission.
Shortly after joining the team, I presented the intended scope of my work at a department meeting--and it generated tremendous interest in the use of academic detailing for public health initiatives far beyond the current planned intervention. This served to solidify the potential value of clinical education outreach to leadership throughout the department. Lessons learned are continually surfacing as we move into year two, and a few key concepts are worth sharing.
Particularly in the early stages of program establishment, it was essential to stretch resources and leverage partnerships. NaRCAD connections with other detailing programs facilitated the exchange of print resources, protocols and lessons learned, saving valuable development time.
Through CDC-funded capacity building visits, I shadowed detailing teams at two other health departments' AD programs (San Francisco Department of Public Health and the New York City Department of Health & Mental Hygiene), which provided a framework for our own program’s function.
At every opportunity, I presented our detailing goals to community partners and stakeholders, resulting in many connections to medical providers, which, in turn, generated most of our initial provider visits. Submitting articles for local clinical practice newsletters and magazines also established recognition and trust in the state’s new detailing initiatives.
Once provider-facing detailing visits began, two things became quite clear:
Providers crave connection to their public health department.
Providers want regional data.
In a state with both urban and rural/frontier areas, urban clinicians wanted to be seen as “boots on the ground” to impact large populations by treating their own patients, while rural providers wanted to be acknowledged as part of the team and directed to resources they could access remotely. All clinicians, both urban and rural, wanted the latest disease and health data for their county, zip code, and even census tract level to compare to the rest of the state.
It has taken multiple attempts to get in the door in many practices. However, after a detailing visit, most providers are outspoken that they found the session worthwhile, and we've used this opportunity to ask for referrals to other providers who might be open to visits. The time investment has also enabled two-way communication allowing us to get a “finger on the pulse” of regional health and disease, particularly in the more rural areas.
The initial time invested to establish relationships with providers was high, but the rate of return has justified the investment. With a new detailing program, the responsibility falls to the detailer to establish credibility, both in resources provided as well as in value for time spent.
If I were starting a detailing program again, or could support new programs who were just getting started, I would love to be armed with these lessons learned:
Establish as many protocols, procedures and resources as possible.
Just start! Even if every detail isn’t in place, start visiting with providers. (The steep learning curve of on-the-ground visits is incredibly valuable and will continue to shape and improve your methods.)
Document everything! As methods change and processes improve, document what is changing and why. Document with the goal of sharing not simply a starting point and a finished product but an entire story.
Be willing to adjust in real time. Providers will have varying needs from one to another and from one day to the next, and our flexibility will ultimately strengthen the relationships we are trying to build, allowing academic detailing to have the greatest possible impact.
Deborah Monaghan, MD
Public Health/Academic Detailer, Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment
Deborah joined CDPHE in 2016 as the Department’s first detailer and currently provides clinical outreach on HIV prevention and sexual health. A graduate of the University of Mississippi School of Medicine, internship took Deborah to Drexel University in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania followed by residency at St Mary’s Hospital in Grand Junction, Colorado. She will complete her MSPH through the University of London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine in 2018. Initial response from the provider community receiving detailing has been overwhelmingly positive, and Deborah hopes to facilitate expansion of detailing efforts into other branches of public health to impact more Coloradans.
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.
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
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.
Director's Letter, Summer 2016
Mike Fischer, MD, MS, NaRCAD Director
Summer is in full swing, but we’re already looking ahead to #NaRCAD2016, our 4th International Conference on Academic Detailing, which we’ll host this fall on November 14th & 15th in Boston. We received a wonderful response to our first-ever call for proposals, with submissions from across the country and around the world, making the 2016 conference our most exciting and community-informed meeting yet.
Our team was inspired by the innovative and diverse proposals we received. Following in the footsteps of previous conference series programming, this year’s applications demonstrated a dedication to improving the quality of care and patient outcomes. #NaRCAD2016 applicants showcased success across a broad spectrum of AD interventions: in outpatient and inpatient settings, in public and private systems, and for a wide range of clinical topics.
We’re thankful to all who applied for #NaRCAD2016, and we encourage those who are just beginning to roll out an intervention to consider applying for next year’s conference.
Along with presentations from our selected applicants, this year’s program will include carefully designed content from leaders in the field, interactive learning sessions, and networking opportunities, including an evening reception.
This year will be your chance to learn about cutting edge interventions being implemented across the globe, to share your unique perspective and experiences, and to collaborate with a thriving community of clinical outreach education colleagues.
In that spirit of collaboration, we’re always eager to hear from you, the members of our learning network. We can support your AD programming with expert techniques training, materials development, evaluation, or by highlighting your work. We’re also dedicated to personally connecting our network members to one another, working to amplify our community’s knowledge, tools, and impact. Take a minute to tell us what resources you need, to explore our Learning Center, or to join the conversation—either virtually, or in Boston in November.
We’ll see you at #NaRCAD2016—registration is now open, and space is limited!
If you have questions, let our team know.
Director's Letter | Mike Fischer, MD, MS
NaRCAD has jumped right into action in 2016! We’ve been getting out of Boston, working with colleagues across the country in a range of settings. As we’ve partnered with state and local public health agencies, long-term care providers, primary-care networks, and other organizations, we’ve seen how the principles of AD can be adapted to fit the needs of different clinicians and patients. The work of our colleagues teaches us how we can best support clinical outreach education, raise its visibility, and improve health outcomes together.
We want to hear how all of you are tackling these challenges, and we hope you’ll share your successes with us. We’re featuring best practices on our blog and connecting partner organizations, and we know that in-person connection at our annual conference is a highlight for many in our field. As we begin preparing for the 4th International Conference on Academic Detailing, we’re inviting you to submit your work for presentation at NaRCAD 2016. We hope you’ll take advantage of this opportunity to share your successes and challenges—the deadline is approaching fast, so get those submissions in, and feel free to contact the NaRCAD team with any questions about the process. And Save the Date for November 14th & 15th here in Boston—we’d love you to join us at the conference to exchange ideas and strategies with colleagues from across the country and around the world.
At NaRCAD, we’re always expanding the range of services we provide, including our core training series on the techniques of AD, specialized workshops and seminars, and consultation on materials development for AD interventions. Let us know what we can do to strengthen your program and highlight your program successes this year.
We travelled to Boise, Idaho on March 10th, 2016, joining forces with the Idaho Department of Health and Welfare (IDHW) on a new academic detailing initiative. On March 11th, we facilitated a 1-day workshop for 14 active academic detailers working on two public health priorities: promoting diabetes screening and management tools as part of their Diabetes, Heart Disease, & Stroke Program, and increasing colorectal cancer screening across the state as part of IDHW’s Comprehensive Cancer Control program.
The session emphasized the importance of determining strong, specific, and actionable key messages, and helped the academic detailers practice delivering those messages clearly. Exercises in small groups focused on preparing for the inevitable obstacles that arise during a visit, anticipating different types of pushback or questions, and developing strategies for effective responses. Using roleplay, workshop participants practiced conveying their program’s goals in a dynamic, clear, and interactive way while continuously assessing the clinician’s specific needs.
We’re looking forward to reporting back on the successes and growth of the Idaho Department of Health and Welfare’s academic detailing programming to improve health outcomes by increasing colorectal cancer screening and effective diabetes diagnosis, prevention, and management throughout the state. Interested in learning more about our trainings or workshops? Learn more here, or contact us and tell us about your program's needs.
Trainee Update Series: Where Are They Now?
Bevin K. Shagoury, Communications & Education Director
Hi, Emily! We’re happy to reconnect with a NaRCAD trainee, and to feature your current work on this month’s blog. Can you tell us a little about yourself and how you ended up working at the National Colorectal Cancer Roundtable?
I’ve worked in public health for 12 years, and in seven of those years I’ve focused on cancer screening and prevention. I got to know NaRCAD while working at the Washington State Department of Health, where I designed their approach and curriculum to coach primary care clinics and health systems on quality improvement strategies to increase colorectal cancer screening. Then last summer I joined the American Cancer Society as the National Colorectal Cancer Roundtable’s new associate director.
In this role much of my work is still focused on developing educational resources for providers, but I’m also involved in efforts to increase colorectal cancer screening through other channels, such as public education and policy. I learned so much about effective methods for conducting clinical education from the NaRCAD Academic Detailing training that I participated in back in October 2012. I’m grateful to have the opportunity to reconnect with NaRCAD, and thank you for the opportunity to share an update on my work!
Tell us a little bit about background and goals of the Roundtable.
The Roundtable, established by the American Cancer Society (ACS) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in 1997, is a national coalition dedicated to reducing the incidence of and mortality from colorectal cancer in the U.S., through coordinated leadership, strategic planning, and advocacy. Today, the Roundtable is a collaborative partnership with more than 100 member organizations across the nation. Through the efforts of several task groups, the Roundtable advances initiatives that focus on provider education, public education, health policy, quality and disparities issues.
Thanks in part to the work of many of our members, colorectal cancer incidence and mortality rates have dropped by over 30% in the U.S. among adults 50 and older in the last fifteen years, with a substantial fraction of these declines due to screening. Yet, despite the good news, colorectal cancer remains the second-leading cause of cancer death in the U.S. when men and women are combined.
The Roundtable is focusing on a great initiative called “80% by 2018.” What’s the story behind this movement?
To accelerate efforts to increase colorectal cancer screening, the Roundtable launched the 80% by 2018 initiative in March of 2014. 80% by 2018 is a movement in which hundreds of organizations have committed to substantially reducing colorectal cancer as a major public health problem and are working toward the shared goal of reaching 80% of adults aged 50 and older screened for colorectal cancer by 2018.
To date over 650 organizations – including medical professional societies, academic centers, survivor groups, government agencies, cancer coalitions, cancer centers, payers and many others – have signed a pledge to make this goal a priority. If we can achieve 80% by 2018, 277,000 cases and 203,000 colorectal cancer deaths would be prevented by 2030. You can learn more about 80% by 2018 and pledge your organization’s support on our 80% by 2018 webpage.
You attended a NaRCAD Academic Detailing Training a few years back to practice skills in clinical outreach education. Can you tell us a little bit about the highlights of your experience?
Academic detailing and practice facilitation are relatively new fields, so when I first accepted a job that included these skills I felt a little in over my head! I was up for the challenge, though, since I saw provider education and training as a way to move further upstream in making substantive and sustainable changes that would positively affect public health. It can take a while for new clinical findings to get implemented in primary care, so I saw that academic detailers and practice facilitators serve a key role in getting these findings into clinical practice.
My two-day Academic Detailing Training with NaRCAD taught me practical skills to work in this role, and gave me the confidence to know I could be effective without a clinical background. The highlight was the role-playing and one-on-one feedback from experienced academic detailers. Their personal feedback was not something I could have found in a book or online training.
What tools from the training do you think are most relevant to active detailers in the field?
Some of the most valuable tools I took from the training were the interpersonal skills needed to be effective as an academic detailer. The tips on how to solicit buy in after sharing a practice change was incredibly useful, such as asking: “does this sound like something you’d be willing to try in your practice?”
It was also really helpful to learn how to approach sharing a clinical update that could potentially make a provider feel as though they had been delivering inappropriate care. The training taught me how to navigate these discussions by saying that while something might be common practice it’s no longer supported by the latest clinical evidence. In my experience, providers were very receptive to learning new clinical updates when it was shared in such a way that they did not feel they were being reprimanded for not knowing already knowing the latest evidence.
Thanks for chatting with us. We’re happy to help get the word out about “80% by 2018” and looking forward to hearing the results of the initiative.
Thank you for the opportunity! I enjoyed reconnecting with you and reflecting on how my training with NaRCAD has enriched my work in clinical education. I’d like to encourage any readers that are interested in 80% by 2018 and efforts to increase colorectal cancer screening to learn about the campaign. And there are lots of great tools and resources in the provider education section of our website that might be of particular interest to academic detailers.
Emily Butler Bell is the Associate Director of the National Colorectal Cancer Roundtable. In this role she manages a number of projects that support the 80% by 2018 initiative, a movement in which hundreds of organizations are working toward the shared goal of reaching 80% of adults aged 50 and older screened for colorectal cancer by 2018. Prior to joining the Roundtable, Emily served as the Cancer Screening Quality Improvement Consultant for the Washington State Department of Health, where she designed their approach and curriculum to coach primary care clinics and health systems on quality improvement strategies to increase colorectal cancer screening.
Prior to that, Emily worked with the American Cancer Society in Austin, TX as a Cancer Information Specialist and later as a Health Insurance Specialist, where she gained insight into the access and affordability issues surrounding colorectal cancer screening. She holds a Master’s in Public Health from Boston University and a B.A. in Psychology from the University of California, Santa Cruz.
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.
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
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.