An interview with Vishal Kinkhabwala, MD, MPH, HIV Prevention Activities Coordinator, HIV Prevention Unit, Michigan Department of Health and Human Services. The overarching goal of the HIV Prevention Unit is to expand access to PrEP for patients throughout the state of Michigan.
by Anna Morgan, MPH, RN, PMP, NaRCAD Program Manager
Anna: We’re so happy to be catching up with you today, Vishal! Can you tell us a little bit about yourself and how you got into the work of academic detailing?
Vishal: My background is in both public health and medicine. After finishing medical school, I realized that as much as I loved the clinical aspect, I wanted something that combined both my passions of public health and clinical medicine. My first job after graduating was in New York where I linked newly-diagnosed HIV patients into care. About a year later, I found an opportunity at the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services that fit with what I ultimately wanted to do, HIV prevention.
My current work is focused on ending the HIV epidemic in Wayne County. One of my favorite parts of my job is detailing, which I do part-time. Our program officially began detailing in September of 2019. We’re in the process of making the jump to e-Detailing, but we’re still in the planning stages.
Anna: Before we chat about how you and your team have been preparing for e-Detailing, let’s talk about how clinicians in Michigan have received your messages around PrEP. Were clinicians receptive to your detailing efforts when you were conducting in-person visits?
Vishal: Most clinicians that we detailed were either already familiar with PrEP or had that enthusiasm to learn about it. Many of the clinicians were excited about helping with MDHHS’s overall goal of increasing patient access to PrEP and talking about the associated HIV prevention counseling.
Clinicians were typically familiar with PrEP but weren’t aware of the nitty-gritty details of how to prescribe and manage it. A big part of what we discussed during our detailing visits was identifying which patients are candidates for PrEP. Our program’s purpose is to increase access, even if it’s just for one or two patients.
Anna: It’s wonderful that the clinicians you’ve detailed have been supportive of your program’s goals. Transitioning to e-Detailing will certainly be easier knowing that you have support from clinicians. What have you learned so far from planning for e-Detailing?
Vishal: It’s been fun prepping for e-Detailing with our team. The big thing I’ve learned through networking with detailers from other jurisdictions is to be flexible and be prepared for any situation, especially in the virtual environment. You might have one idea of how your session will go, and it could go in the opposite direction, which is part of the charm of detailing. It’s about forming a connection and tailoring your methods to what the clinicians' and practices' needs are. I’m a relationship-oriented person, and I feel like that’s one of the most rewarding parts of doing this.
One of the things that also excites me about virtual education is the access to information right at your fingertips. For example, I was detailing a clinician about PrEP and HIV prevention last year who asked me, "Well, I have this issue with a lot of patients with STDs. Can you talk to me about STD treatments?" It was an in-person visit, so I only had the materials that I had brought with me, which were all focused on HIV.
The beauty of doing e-Detailing is that you can have resources pulled up and can get the information for the clinician almost instantaneously. As I said earlier, detailing is all about having that relationship, meeting the clinician where they're at, and serving their needs. Virtual education gives you another tool to be able to do just that.
Anna: What a positive spin on e-Detailing! Speaking of sustainability, that’s the theme for our upcoming conference. You attended our conference last year in Boston and will be presenting at our virtual conference this year. What were some key takeaways from last year’s conference that you were able to bring back to your program and implement?
Vishal: Last year’s conference was my first exposure to NaRCAD and the world of detailing- it was honestly one of the coolest experiences I’ve ever had. It was great to be exposed to e-Detailing through the virtual detailing panel before it was even brought to the forefront during COVID.
Because I was hired a few months prior to the conference, I had not attended a training yet. I joined the “AD 101” breakout group, which was supremely helpful. When I got home, I did mock detailing sessions with my colleague and reviewed all the resources on the NaRCAD website. I also practiced detailing on the stress balls I have in my office!
Anna: It’s so nice to hear how impactful the conference was for you as a new detailer. We strive to include a diverse audience of new and veteran detailers each year. What are you looking forward to most about this year’s conference?
Vishal: There are so many absolute rock stars in the field of detailing. I’m looking forward to getting to see familiar faces and meet new faces over the virtual platform. I’m excited for the exchange of ideas, programs, and concepts. So many people have given me ideas for our program in Michigan.
It’s such a good feeling when I can say that not only have I received help from others, but that I’m able to inspire other people. It’s also comforting to know that this is such a passionate group of people that no matter the adverse situation, the work continues getting done. I’m counting down the days until the conference in November!
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Biography. Vishal has been working with the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services since August 2019 as the HIV Prevention Activities Coordinator. His work focus is on program planning and implementation for the Ending the HIV Epidemic Initiative, focused on southeastern Michigan. As part of this initiative, he works as a part-time Academic Detailer with a focus on HIV Prevention with the overarching goal of increasing access to PrEP throughout the state of Michigan. He completed his Master of Public Health degree from Benedictine University in Lisle, IL in August 2013 and his Doctor of Medicine degree from Avalon University School of Medicine in Willemstad, Curacao in June 2018. Prior to working for the State of Michigan, Vishal worked for the New York State Department of Health as a Disease Intervention Specialist, working on a pilot HIV Molecular Clusters initiative. Vishal is particularly looking forward to moving the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services PrEP Detailing program forward into the realm of virtual “eDetailing.”
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