Guest Blogger: Jacki Travers, PharmD
Clinical Academic Detailing Pharmacist
Pharmacy Management Consultants
NaRCAD Training Alumnus
In June of 2015, I had never even heard the term “academic detailing.” If you’d asked me to define it, I might have said it had something to do with the relationship between teachers and their cars. Little did I know that I was about to become an academic detailer, embarking on an exciting, rewarding, and sweaty-palmed journey to bring evidence-based materials to providers across the state of Oklahoma.
The Oklahoma Medicaid population is mostly under age 21. Detailing topics have included treatment of ADHD, use of atypical antipsychotic medications, and decreasing the use of antibiotics for treatment of upper respiratory infections. We are a small program by comparison, having one full-time detailer since 2015. We added one quarter-time detailer within the last year.
I will share some specific activities that worked for us, which creates a ROADMAP that has served us well and may help you as you begin or enhance your detailing efforts.
R – Review
When each set of materials neared completion, we asked the experienced NaRCAD staff to review our materials. Having an outside source helped clarify any confusion and identify ways to help the AD visit flow more naturally.
O – Objectivity
In identifying providers, we were making a bit of a judgement about their prescribing. As a detailer, I found it unhelpful to bring these judgements into the detailing visit. It is important for providers to see detailers as an ally for change rather than a source of punishment or criticism.
A – Acceptance
We surveyed providers’ acceptance of the program with each AD visit by asking them to evaluate the detailer and the materials. We also asked if they were willing to participate in future visits and recommend the program to colleagues.
D – Define
Defining the expected care gaps helped guide creation of our key messages. The treatment guidelines for ADHD are well established and remain unchanged since 2011. Comparing these guidelines to national and state patterns gave us a starting point for developing key messages. In addition to published guidelines, evaluation measures such as the Healthcare Data and Information Set (HEDIS) were very helpful. Doing this examination on the front end helped us begin with the end in mind and ensured we collected data we needed from the start.
M – Motivational Interviewing
Motivational interviewing (MI) is a communication style that is used to modify behavior. MI techniques helped us avoid some of the pitfalls that can accompany potentially confrontational conversations.
A – Appealing Graphics
We use Adobe Creative Cloud, which we find it to be very user-friendly. For someone with no graphic design experience, YouTube training videos were very helpful. We also use Pixabay as a source for ready-made graphics. All materials are open source and royalty free. We looked at the graphics used by other programs and even materials distributed by pharmaceutical representatives. Having appealing graphics is necessary for any AD program.
P – People
Having professional mentoring has helped move our program to the next level. Specifically, our detailers received invaluable preparation from the excellent NaRCAD Training Series. Moreover, I never miss the chance to learn from all the presenters and breakout participants at the International Conference each year.
We are encouraged by the outcomes we have seen to date. The ADHD campaign produced a 58.33% reduction in medication claims for the very young (age 0-4) and cost savings of more than $226,000 across all ages. The antipsychotic campaign produced a 19.51% reduction in medication claims across all ages with associated savings of more than $365,000.
I hope this snapshot of our program demonstrates that even small AD programs can show sizeable improvements in health outcomes and improve utilization of healthcare resources. Now, more than three years later, my understanding of academic detailing is much deeper and continues to grow with each new challenge. I was not completely wrong in my definition though: I absolutely see myself as a teacher and I certainly spend a lot of time in the car!
Featuring: Carol Furlong, LCMHC, MAC, MBA, Director of Substance Use Disorders, Elliot Hospital
Jill MacGregor, APRN, Catholic Medical Center, & Katie Sawyer, LICSW, MLADC, Director, Integrated Treatment of Co-Occurring Disorders, Network4Health/Mental Health Center of Greater Manchester
Interview by Isabel Evans, Fellow, NACCHO, in partnership with NaRCAD
EDITOR'S NOTE: Manchester, New Hampshire, was the third site of four selected for a 2018 pilot program of the CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention), NACCHO (the National Association of County and City Health Officials), and NaRCAD (The National Resource Center for Academic Detailing). This exciting pilot program focused on community-level work with local public health departments to develop customized interventions to reduce opioid overdose and death. Four sites experiencing significant public health problems related to opioids were selected to be trained in academic detailing; those trained health professionals then conducted 1:1 field visits with front line clinicians to impact behavior around prescribing, treatment referrals, and patient care, with Manchester’s team focusing primarily on access to Medication Assisted Treatment [MAT]. As year 1 comes to a close, we’re showcasing successes from the field.
Thanks for talking with us about your work in Manchester, New Hampshire. Can you tell us about your team? How were detailers chosen to represent the health department for this pilot project?
Carol: Tim Soucy, from the Manchester Department of Health, contacted representatives at each of our organizations and gave a little bit of information about the training. He asked if our organizations had particular people that might be interested, and my supervisor thought of me, since I was in the middle of developing a MAT program for my organization. I jumped at the chance to participate.
Jill: My organization received the same email, and as the primary care lead nurse practitioner, I was considered the most appropriate to participate.
Katie: The invitation came from the site that received the CDC grant (City Health Department). The invitation was disseminated among a number of local human service/health agencies who are part of a Network of agencies as a result of our 1115 Waiver partnership.
The NaRCAD team came to your site back in March, 2018, helping you get ready to be ‘in the field’ and talk to clinicians about the opioid crisis. Tell us how that went, and how you applied what you learned in training.
Carol: I’m a naturally shy person who dislikes being the center of attention, so I was incredibly nervous about the role plays during training. The turned out to be invaluable, since I use the skills I developed through practicing and receiving feedback during every visit. The role plays prepared me so well for meeting with providers, and I go into the conversations feeling confident and comfortable. When they ask questions, I feel that I know how to answer, or where to turn for more information, such as the wonderful handouts available on the NaRCAD website.
Jill: For me, learning how to hold a discussion as a detailer was the most important element of the training. I learned how to frame a conversation using open-ended questions, which allows the discussion to progress. Understanding how to simultaneously get a provider’s perspective, while also giving them the information they need, is a critical detailing skill.
Katie: We were able to role play, which has proven very helpful out in the field to stay focused, on topic, and empathetic to the position of each clinician that I speak to. The handouts that NaRCAD provided have easy to read information and great graphics, so they have also proved useful for staying on track with the key messages during detailing visits, along with providing supplemental information.
The opioid epidemic has affected many communities in unique ways. How have local clinicians responded to your visits? What do clinicians in Manchester see as major barriers to improving health for their patients struggling with this issue?
Carol: Clinicians can be a little skeptical at first, since they’re often expecting that I’m going to try to “sell them” on something. When I focus on listening to their experiences and their concerns, I’m able to gently address those concerns and give resources or suggestions. Even just having a discussion can help clinicians to feel that you’re interested in how they feel, and that you genuinely want to help them – I would describe some clinicians as “dumbstruck” from our conversations, because they’re preparing to do battle with me, but they instead come to see me as a resource, and are more willing to meeting with me.
As for challenges, we deal with a fair amount of stigmatization of substance use. It’s a major barrier, and we’ve had to spend a lot of time addressing that in my organization. Another barrier for clinicians is a preconceived notion that providing MAT is an onerous process, and too time-consuming to add into their schedules. And these two barriers really complement each other in a bad way – I often get providers saying that MAT is too much work and that their MAT patients will just end up using opioids again and ending up back in the emergency room. Breaking down these misconceptions about MAT and getting to the root of the stigma against MAT is a big challenge.
However, we’re approaching these challenges with education and lots of conversations, since we’ve found that helping our staff to get a better sense of addiction as a disease is really invaluable to making them more open to MAT and treating people with opioid use disorder. The timing of the academic detailing initiative couldn’t have been better for my organization, because having conversations about addiction leads well into having conversations about MAT, and vice versa. Engaging in academic detailing has opened up a whole new avenue of clinician education for me.
Jill: Because of my role at my health system, I talk to providers about many different topics and they’re used to me approaching them, which has definitely helped give me and automatic “in” and bring up sensitive topics. My institutional knowledge helps too, since I can answer questions specific to my organization and our various programs or resources around opioids.
A major challenge I face is that providers don’t think they have the time and resources to implement MAT into primary care, and they don’t feel they have the behavioral health support to do so successfully. However, I’ve found that this is often based around a lack of knowledge, since when I ask more probing questions about MAT, it’s often clear that they don’t really know much about it!
Providers will come to conclusions without getting the right education, and I find that they often “change their tune” when I give them more information. Providers are also hesitant about writing a prescription for a MAT patient if there isn’t someone in their office who can talk to the patient about addiction itself. Right now, we’re working on integrating behavioral health clinicians into primary care, which I’m hopeful will help with this very real concern.
Katie: There has been some hesitation in sharing with detailers, in regards to professional experience, as I believe most clinicians are on edge in trying to do the best that they can to address patient needs, while also supporting alternatives to typical or historical use of prescribed opioids. With an empathetic and interested stance, I’ve found that most clinicians are open with their experience and struggles.
There are a number of themes among clinicians for challenges that I’ve noticed, including a limited behavioral health workforce to support what they view as an ideal MAT protocol, which would include individual and group counseling, regular urine toxicology screens, and wraparound services along the continuum of care. In addition, there is a concern among providers about the potential diversion of Buprenorphine by patients.
Katie: It has been rewarding to meet with each clinician for different reasons – I would view success as learning more about the clinicians that are already on board and excited to pursue getting a waiver, as it gets them talking and feeling a renewed energy to share with others. I view my conversations with clinicians who are not interested in pursuing a waiver as equally rewarding, since it allows for both of us to share and hear the other’s perspective. We can agree that the work is needed and challenging, no matter how we decide to go about addressing the needs of our patients.
Lastly, what advice would you tell new detailers? What do you wish you knew when you started out?
Carol: I would tell new detailers to take a deep breath and know that you’re ready for this – NaRCAD does such a good job of training us as detailers, and you just feel ready.
Jill: I would say to recognize that everyone has a natural process for adapting to new ideas. You’ll get some providers who are ready and energized, some who will want to watch others in action before they jump in, and some who simply may not be interested. It can be frustrating when providers aren’t interested in your topic or resources, but understand that this is natural, and don’t take it personally! Every visit will be different, and that’s okay.
Katie: My advice is to remember that success is not defined as “convincing” someone that the topic of your detailing visit is “the right answer”. In fact, trying to convince another person of anything is essentially walking against waves. Instead, be open to listening to that person and their experiences, and then value the experience that they have had. This is more likely to open the conversation to allow you to share your wealth of information and experiences. It’s all about planting seeds.
Ideas? Comments? Questions? Sound off on this blog in the comments section below!
Featuring: Robin Tuttle, RN, ER Nurse, Academic Detailer, NaRCAD Training Alumnus
Interview by Kabaye Diriba, Senior Program Analyst, NACCHO, in partnership with NaRCAD
EDITOR'S NOTE: Bell County, Kentucky, was the first site of four selected for a 2018 pilot program of the CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention), NACCHO (the National Association of City and County Health Officials), and NaRCAD (The National Resource Center for Academic Detailing). This exciting pilot program focused on community-level work with local public health departments to develop customized interventions to reduce opioid overdose and death. Four sites experiencing significant public health problems related to opioids were selected to be trained in academic detailing; those trained health professionals then conducted 1:1 field visits with front line clinicians to impact behavior around prescribing, treatment referrals, and patient care, all within a rural area. As year 1 comes to a close, we’re showcasing successes from the field.
Thanks for talking with us about your on this pilot project with NACCHO, the CDC, and NaRCAD, working to support local efforts in your community.
Robin: What we’ve been doing has been a breath of fresh air! I'm proud to be a part of it, and happy to help in any way that I can.
Tell us how local detailers were selected for this project—what kinds of professional backgrounds make up your diverse team members?
Robin: I was asked by a co-worker, another detailer, who thought “I know this really outgoing, outspoken person that might fit the team.” Our team is made up of people that have hands-on knowledge about the opioid epidemic. I’ve been in healthcare since 1988 and I’ve been living here in Bell County for 30 years. I started working as a nurse aid at one of the local hospitals and then went on to college to get my RN. Our detailing team all had a common interest when we got together.
What elements of the training do you apply most often during your visits when delivering your key messages?
Robin: What helped me the most was that last day of training when we were practicing academic detailing. Asking open-ended questions is the most important thing. You get so wrapped up in wanting to deliver your messages, but it’s not necessary that you get all of your messages in on that first visit. You may feel rushed to deliver all your messages if you’re afraid you’re not going to make it back in the door, but what I found is the more I met with doctors, and the more I said things like, “What have you seen in your practice?” or “Tell me about a patient…” or “Talk to me about the problems you’re having…”, the more I saw the conversation open up. That’s something I really picked up on the second day of training—learning to turn it back around and asking [needs assessment] questions. Let them get involved, and let me really listen to what they have to say; that way it'll help contribute to the conversation going forward.
The opioid epidemic can be a sensitive topic. When you approach clinicians to discuss their behaviors around the opioid epidemic, how are you generally received? What do clinicians in Bell County see as major challenges in your community?
Robin: Almost everyone I spoke to was very receptive about everything that we talked about, including all 5 of our campaign’s key messages. Because treatment in this area is slim to none, it all circled back to, “What if I find someone [a patient] that has opioid use disorder? How can you help me?” Doctors here are telling me that even people that have overdosed and come to the hospital are having a hard time [getting access to treatment]. There are places that are not in Bell County, but we would need some sort of transportation system that could get patients to those places.
What challenges do Bell County clinicians face, along with being busy, when trying to support their patients who are prescribed opioids?
Robin: Clinicians are often challenged in identifying symptoms of someone with opioid use disorder. Also, sometimes patients are sent to a pain [management] clinic, but those don’t always work. In our community, we can send them to the local Suboxone clinic which is accessible and easy to get to.
When it comes to Suboxone, you cannot look at it as an “all-or-nothing” approach. That’s a challenge here in Bell County, trying to get the community to know that abstinence is not always the answer, and sometimes people might have to take some form of medication for life to get the wiring back together that they've already lost because of their disorder.
I also understand some of the doctors are adamant about their current patients that have been taking these medications for 25 years for this chronic pain, which they don’t think they can do much about, and they’re concerned about this newer generation [of patients] coming in.
What have been some of the more rewarding exchanges you’ve had with clinicians you’ve met with?
Robin: I've had a lot of good visits, but this one sticks out in my mind: there was one clinician where I felt immediately like I was going to get the “brush off”. But I ended up staying for an hour and a half! I sat there with this doctor, who I’ve had a challenging professional relationship with historically, and he ended up talking to me at length about patients he was seeing, and those he had inherited. I was so excited that I’d spoken with him for so long, and that I’d covered all 5 of our campaign’s key messages. I walked away from that visit with questions to follow up on that I wanted to be able to answer for him at a future visit, and I felt like I made a new friend.
What do you want to tell new detailers who are just starting to form teams and try this kind of 1:1 outreach education model out with clinicians in their communities? What piece of advice would you have appreciated when you started your first detailing visits?
Robin: Try not to get discouraged! After we divided up all the physicians, we started making phone calls. That can be discouraging. I found out we actually had more luck stopping by. We called it the “drug representative look”: you dress up, put your badge on that says academic detailer, have the clipboard and all the paperwork, and you look professional. I really found out that I had more luck by just walking in and saying, “Do you have a minute?”
Don’t get discouraged if you're making calls all day long and they keep putting you off, because receptionists are making appointments all day long too and it’s hard to explain what you’re doing over the telephone. We definitely felt discouraged during the first couple of weeks of outreach. We were feeling like we hit a brick wall, and that’s when we coined the term "drive-by” detailing visits. We started driving around and just showing up at offices. So, get out and drive if you can’t get through over the phone. Go with a card and introduce yourself. They [clinicians] all want to talk about opioids. You'll be surprised when you get in the room with them and they start talking.
Ideas? Comments? Questions? Sound off on this blog in the comments section below!
Here’s the good news: academic detailing is becoming so widely accepted that everyone wants to help provide the evidence that is disseminated. That’s also the bad news; worrisome examples range from the grotesque to the sinister. One eminent health policy expert wanted to know how much it would cost to put together a nationwide academic detailing program (my heart leaped) that would be underwritten by the pharmaceutical industry (dammit).
Prescription drug management (PBM) companies now offer so-called academic detailing services as part of their contracts with payors to oversee drug choices and spending. Sounds good until one realizes that a large chunk of PBM revenue come from payments by manufacturers to move market share to their products. So much for communicating evidence that is neutral, unbiased, and non-commercial.
You’d think we’d have learned our lesson by now. Do universities or insurers or government fail to offer enough continuing education about prescribing? No problem, drugmakers will be more than happy to fill the gap, either for free or at amazingly low cost…. often with really great food. That local clinical expert who shows up at Grand Rounds to provide an overview of all the new treatments for diabetes, at no cost to the hospital? Don’t ask who’s paying him to be there. And those convenient smartphone apps that provide so much handy dosing information for any drug you can think of? All you have to do is read the commercial messages that pop up on your way to the data, as the vendor promises its pharmaceutical sponsors the chance to "embed your brand message at multiple points across the care continuum."
There is a solution to the concern about who’s providing the content for academic detailing programs, and it’s much easier than figuring out whether a particular Facebook ad is brought to you by a Russian bot. Just expect that any purveyor of AD information will reveal clearly all the financial ties it and its authors have with any drug or device maker, in relation to program sponsorship as well as the creation and editing of the clinical content. After years of being misled about hidden data on adverse events or failed studies, we’ve developed a higher set of expectations about disclosing all information about clinical trials, and the need to reveal authors’ financial ties for published studies.
Those same higher standards must also be applied to academic detailing programs, so that its audiences will know whether the material is the carefully vetted work of a team of unconflicted reviewers who don’t work for any manufacturers, or is instead yet another terribly sophisticated new way to market particular products.
Want more? Peruse the archive of Jerry's pieces here on DETAILS.
Jerry Avorn, MD | NaRCAD Co-Director
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.
Guest Blogger: Joseph Leishman
Academic Detailer/Masters in Public Health Candidate
Center for Clinical Management Research, Ann Arbor VA
The University of Michigan School of Public Health
NaRCAD Training Alumnus
NaRCAD: How did you get into AD? What were you doing before?
Joe: I’m a graduate student at The University of Michigan School of Public Health studying epidemiology. As a student I started working at the Ann Arbor VA Center for Clinical Management Research on a lung cancer-screening project. Our project involves 8 different VA sites across the country. As we shifted into an implementation phase, academic detailing was selected as an implementation method. I transitioned to an academic detailer role because of my background in epidemiology, my understanding of lung cancer screening (LCS), and my ability to communicate these principles.
I attended the NaRCAD academic detailing techniques training and things took off from there!
NaRCAD: Why is AD for lung cancer screening so important?
Joe: Lung cancer screening can be more complex and complicated compared to other preventative services, and most primary care physicians have very limited time to discuss lung cancer screening with patients. There are a number of potential downsides to screening – false positives, overdiagnosis, invasive procedures, and complications from invasive procedures. The benefits of the screening outweigh the challenges, and we have developed a tool for doctors to quickly evaluate a patient’s lung cancer risk, facilitate shared decision making, and make personalized screening recommendations.
NaRCAD: Tell us about the lung cancer screening detailing aid and related tools that you made with NaRCAD’s support. How was the process of developing the detailing aid?
Joe: Our detailing aid contains background information on lung cancer screening and some of the key evidence behind our tool. It also outlines some of the reasons and benefits behind using this risk-based approach. We tried to keep the detailing aid simple enough that doctors could quickly understand the concepts with little or no additional explanation. This was our group’s first attempt at making something like this. We worked with NaRCAD during the creation of the detailing aid to improve the clinical content, layout, and language. There was a lot of trial and error to create the detailing aid. We ended up going through 10 versions before it was finalized.
NaRCAD: How did you decide what information was most important to put on your detailing aid?
Joe: Initially, we started out with too much information. It was too complicated and wordy to effectively communicate our message. We tested it out with our team to see if our message was clear. It was obvious when sections of detailing aid didn’t work well.
We really had to focus on narrowing down the main evidence and messages we wished to convey. We used the primary lung cancer screening evidence from the US Preventative Task Force and the National Lung Screening Trial. Our tool goes a step beyond screening eligibility to look at individual risk, life expectancy, and patient preferences, which help providers get past some of the difficulties and complexities of lung cancer screening.
NaRCAD: How does your website complement the detailing aid when you are 1:1 detailing?
Joe: A link to the tool is embedded in the Computerized Patient Record System (CPRS), the EMR system that the VA uses. However, it can be also accessed outside the VA with a URL. What I typically do is I have PCPs pull up the website in their workspace after going through the detailing aid. I have providers role play with a sample patient, and I demonstrate how the tool could be used for that specific patient. Using the actual web tool in a detailing meeting really helps to reinforce our message. We feel like it increases the likelihood that it’ll be adopted in an actual clinical practice.
NaRCAD: How have clinicians been responding to your campaign?
Joe: So far there has been a decent response from the doctors we have worked with. Some of the doctors in the VA have met with detailers before which makes the initial contact easy. However, the most majority of the doctors I have met were receptive to my visits.
We’ve been tracking the use of our tool before and after academic detailing at a site level. We don’t have exact numbers, but there has been an increase between before and after AD. We’d be happy to share more complete data in a future blog post.
NaRCAD: That'd be terrific, we'd love to share that when it's ready! What other reflections do you have from this process that you'd like to share with our community?
Joe: Academic detailing is a new approach for our group. It has been a real learning experience for discovering what does and doesn’t work and how to best address provider needs. For me, going through this process has been a lot of fun. I love talking with doctors about their struggles and being able to offer a tool that can help them better handle lung cancer screening with their patients.
Annual Conference, Off to Vegas for an HIV PrEP Training, & Our Team is Growing (and Hiring!)
A letter from the staff at NaRCAD
At NaRCAD, we're getting ready for our busy season, which lately, has become a season that lasts all year long. And we're happy for it--because that means we get to help more programs across the US and Canada figure out the most impactful ways to use academic detailing to promote sustainable change. Whether public health programs are looking to increase prescriptions of HIV PrEP for patients at high-risk, encourage more referrals to nutritionists for patients with diabetes, or improve access to treatment for people struggling with opioid use disorder, we're there to help them, from program conception to implementation and evaluation.
You may know that we offer bi-annual trainings here in Boston for health professionals to learn the techniques of academic detailing with our team of clinical outreach education experts through our 2-day, intensive, hands-on course. But did you know we also travel across the country to train teams on-site in their own communities? Through a partnership with the CDC, NACCHO, and previous funding from AHRQ, we've been on the road for countless successful trainings in early 2018, and we'll be wrapping up the year and heading into 2019 with a bang!
Our next stop is Las Vegas, to work with the Southern Nevada Health District on improving outcomes around HIV prevention this December. (And for once, we hope that "what happens in Vegas" doesn't "stay in Vegas"; our goal is to increase visibility and prescribing of HIV PrEP so that more clinicians everywhere are reaching the patients who need it most.)
Prior to December, we'll be busy here on our home turf for the fall, holding our now-full Fall Training on October 1 + 2, and our fantastic, annual international conference on AD on November 12 & 13. We hope you'll keep your eyes out for dates for our Spring 2019 Training (which will be announced by November!) and that you'll join us for our conference--this year is our 6th annual, and we're excited to announce our full agenda is live on our Conference Series page. Register today--space is limited for this event!
And visit our blog often--we'll be featuring new interviews this fall, showcasing best practices on topics like reducing polypharmacy, reducing opioid prescribing in rural counties, and increasing lung cancer screenings. Want to be featured? Contact us and tell us what you're working on! Our team is ready to custom-tailor our support, so we can offer you the best ideas, resources, and tools to help your program thrive.
We can't wait to see you this fall!
-The NaRCAD Home Team
(PS: Want to join our team as a Program Manager? Send us your resume & cover letter.)
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 firstname.lastname@example.org, or leave your thoughts in the discussion forum below.
NaRCAD & Training Facilitator Loren Regier, BSP, BA
Our team's training facilitator Loren Regier recently shared these pearls of wisdom about talking (and listening more) to front-line clinicians. In 1:1 academic detailing visits, detailers have the challenge of finding the right balance between sharing information and acquiring insight into a clinician's practice. It's the kind of balance an expert detailer can execute well, but how?
Loren's tips on talking more when necessary to draw out the clinician's needs by asking good questions, and toggling to actively listening and talking less to understand clinicians' biases, are below.
-If someone is at the point of having “bought in” to a concept/idea, they may just need information. In this situation, it's okay to talk a little more, especially if you sense the “thirst for relevant information.”
-If, however, a person has not yet bought in to an idea, it is often more important to talk less, or move towards equalizing the talking.
-They will reject too much information that they don’t believe. But in discussing, there is the chance to explore ambivalence, raise doubts, and compare notes.
-In all cases, learn to listen and listen well.
What quick tips would you share with other detailers on assessing needs?
Sound off in the comments section below!
Biography. Loren Regier, BA, BSP
Clinical Director, Academic Detailing Service, Centre for Effective Practice, Program Coordinator, RxFiles Academic Detailing, U of S, College of Pharmacy/Nutrition, Facilitator, Educational Outreach/Academic Detailing Training | Loren is the Program Coordinator of the RxFiles Academic Detailing Service in Saskatoon, SK, Canada. Loren has guided the development of this provincial academic detailing service since the first pilot project began in 1997. Loren is active as a member of the Canadian Academic Detailing Collaboration and provides training and consultation to various programs and initiatives. Read more.
The NaRCAD Team is excited to kick off the latest episode in our C.O.r.E. Podcast Series, this time featuring the insights of Program Director Rebecca Edelberg, MPH, from the Boston-based non-profit academic detailing organization Alosa Health, as she shares her experiences managing field programs in clinical outreach education.
This episode's 15-minute interview with Rebecca hones in on the "how-to's" of strong AD program management, including:
Tune in here, and sound off on Twitter or in the comments section below with insights, questions for Rebecca, or topics you'd like to see featured on our next podcast. Learn more about Rebecca and Alosa Health below!
Rebecca Edelberg, MPH, Program Director, Alosa Health
Rebecca is responsible for providing technical and operational support to field staff, and for ensuring that field-based clinical education programs are executed to clients' satisfaction. Rebecca previously worked at Boston Medical Center implementing a clinical trial and as a consultant in the electronic medical records (EMR) industry, where she engaged in one-on-one clinician education. She has an undergraduate degree from Tufts University and a Masters in Public Health from Boston University with concentrations in Epidemiology and Health Policy. Learn more about Alosa Health's programs, clinical modules, and expert team on their website.
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.
Jerry Avorn, MD, Co-Director, NaRCAD
Of all the medication use issues facing the U.S., the most pressing is of course that of opioid mis-prescribing. When the anatomy of that mis-use is dissected, it becomes clear that the principles and methods of academic detailing are especially well suited to addressing this crisis, for several reasons.
First is the problem of information deficit: before the mid- to late-1990s, practical issues of the assessment and management of pain were often poorly covered (or not at all) in most medical school or residency training programs – so there’s a lot of good that can be accomplished by simple personalized knowledge transfer, to start with.
Second is dealing with the contamination of dis-information: the growing documentation of the fact that sales reps for OxyContin, for example, actually under-stated the drug’s risks and over-stated its potential indications when describing their product to prescribers – distortions for which the company had to pay $600 million in penalties.
Third is the fact that for this therapeutic category more than for most others, a prescriber’s attitudes and motivations play an especially important role.
These can involve “non-scientific” issues such as:
There is ample evidence that simple “gotcha” letters accusing a prescriber of opioid over-use have no effect. Similarly, draconian restrictions imposed by governments or health care systems limiting the amount of opioid that can be prescribed to a given patient clearly run the risk of under-treating genuine pain – a grotesque example of health care rules that seem guaranteed to increase patients’ suffering.
Evidence-based guidelines, such as those promulgated by the CDC, are fine as far as they go, but most doctors haven’t read them, and even fewer have integrated them into their practices.
But a well-trained, skilled academic detailer can interact with a prescriber to understand just what issues lie behind the apparent misuse of opioids by that physician, and present a set of interactive messages tailored to those particular needs.
This will involve constructing a personalized blend of new knowledge transfer, dis-information detoxification, practice facilitation (including help accessing Prescription Drug Monitoring Program data less burdensomely), accessing local resources for help in patients with opioid use disorder, and assistance with patient education.
A similar approach could also be enormously helpful for encouraging naloxone prescribing and improving the care of patients with opioid use disorder, including medication-assisted treatment, where information deficits and attitudinal issues are even more prominent.
Together, this kind of individualized outreach education can accomplish far more than mailed guidelines, accusatory nastygrams, or legal restrictions – and in doing so, do more to improve patient care and reduce preventable misery than can be expected from more old-fashioned interventions.
Jerry Avorn, MD, Co-Director, 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 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. Read more.
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 email@example.com.
We can't wait to work with you!
-The NaRCAD Team
University of Charleston School of Pharmacy Students, Faculty Partner with CDC to Pilot Academic Detailing Program in Boone County, West Virginia
This press release originally appeared on publicnow.com and was written by UCSOP.
The University of Charleston School of Pharmacy (UCSOP) is partnering with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to pilot the National Resource Center for Academic Detailing (NaRCAD) program at the Boone County Health Department in Southern West Virginia.
Academic detailing is a one-on-one outreach education technique which allows pharmacists, pharmacy students and other health care professionals to educate prescribers on the dangers of overprescribing opioids and also recognize the signs of opioid abuse.
UCSOP participants include student pharmacists Angela Withrow (class of 2019), Amy Bateman (class of 2018), Joshua McIntyre (class of 2021), Jami Swift (class of 2021), and assistant professor Dr. Sarah Embrey. These individuals make up five of the seven selected persons being trained for the program. A two-day training will kick-off the program on March 14-15, 2018.
'Participation in this important pilot project is just one more way UCSOP students and faculty work to educate and serve communities throughout West Virginia on opioid use/abuse by sharing best prescribing practices, delivering prevention education, and encouraging recovery and treatment,' said Dr. Susan Gardner Bissett, Assistant Dean for Professional and Student Affairs.
NaRCAD was founded in 2010 and is a national resource center that supports clinical outreach education programs across the United States. The goal through its trainings and program support is for clinical educators to have a greater impact when visiting clinicians and aiding those clinicians on making evidence-based decisions.
Interventions supported include reducing opioid abuse, HIV/STI screening and prevention, prenatal health, smoking cessation, chronic disease management, and more. For more information, visit https://www.narcad.org/.
The NaRCAD Team is excited to announce that from March 1st to June 1st, 2018, we'll be accepting applications to present at this year's 6th International Conference on Academic Detailing here in Boston on November 12th & 13th, 2018.
This is our third year of accepting proposals to present, and with each year, we receive even more applications featuring new and innovative approaches to sharing successes and learning opportunities in the field of clinical outreach education. Last year's Review Board chose applications that filled over 85% of our meeting agenda, from expert panels to hands-on workshops to field presentations, and we expect this year to be no different.
For those considering applying, we encourage you to check out our Conference Hub archives to see previous program highlights, both for inspiration and examples of clinical "hot topics" in academic detailing as well to review the various formats we use to showcase the great work being done across the globe.
Whether you choose to apply for the format of our fast-paced Field Presentation session to share data and best practices from your program, an Expert Panel that features thought-provoking (and interactive!) discussion, or an intensive breakout session where participants can actively work to build and improve their work, we want to hear from you.
We invite you to check out our application page by clicking on the link below, e-mail us with questions, and join us this November in Boston for the next installment in our exciting series.
See you there!
-The NaRCAD Team
We’re noticing a pattern over here at NaRCAD. As we enter into our 8th(!) year as the only resource center dedicated to clinical outreach education, we’re proud of the recent work we’ve done together with our community, as we are every year. But the pattern we’re seeing is about much more than just pride.
With each January that rolls around, we’re invigorated by the energy of our community members, and by the important programming that's taking place across North America. So it’s no surprise to us that we’re consistently excited to greet each year with the creative solutions, expertise, and events you need to make your program thrive.
This year, some of those creative solutions are ready for you to take for a test drive. We’ve just launched our CoRE (Clinical Outreach Education) Podcast Series, featuring 20 minute episodes of insight, and innovation. (Listen to our pilot episode here, and suggest topics you’d like to hear in the comment section below.)
We’re also proud to release our brand new Detailing Directory, highlighting shareable resources from successful field programs across the US and Canada. Explore the Detailing Directory by clinical topic, and explore our AD Fact Sheets, featuring toolkit examples, publications, and video sessions on specific topics in academic detailing. The goal of our Detailing Directory is to give you direct access to resources and building blocks to strengthen your program so you don’t have to reinvent the wheel. (Want to be featured and share your resources? Contact us today and we’ll be happy to add you to our directory.)
And while we’re proud of our ever-growing portfolio of virtual resources, what we love most is to connect with you person to person, program to program. That’s why we’re delighted to announce the dates (and open registration!) for our upcoming Spring Training on AD Techniques in Boston on April 30 & May 1st, 2018.
We’ve also just released our Save the Date for our 6th annual International Conference on Academic Detailing on November 12th & 13th, 2018—and we’re taking submissions for presentations starting March 1st--we hope you'll consider applying!
With so much happening for NaRCAD, and for our dedicated community members, who work tirelessly to improve patient care through clinician education, it's easy to see why we’re looking forward to the opportunities ahead. Thanks for continuing to share your insights with us--we’re here to support you, highlight your work, and ensure that your programming has the greatest possible impact.
We hope to connect with you soon.
-The NaRCAD Team
Shh--don't tell! We're not sharing the official launch of our new COrE (Clinical Outreach Education) Podcast Series until January 2nd, 2018. But for regular blog readers, you're in for a VIP preview of the newest addition to our offerings here at NaRCAD, and one we're particularly excited about.
As we continue to experiment with new ways to make information easy to access, and engaging for our community of learners and detailers, we're pleased to share our first episode of the COrE series, which features our very own co-directors, Mike and Jerry.
In this pilot podcast, NaRCAD's directors explore the fundamental purpose of (and need for) academic detailing as a healthcare improvement strategy, the current challenges in healthcare, combating primary care burnout, taking AD to scale, and more--all in just 20 minutes!
So put on your headphones and have a listen at the first of many episodes to come. And sound off below on topics you'd like to hear Jerry, Mike, and other experts tackle on the podcast.
The NaRCAD Team
The NaRCAD Team
This year's 5th International Conference on Academic Detailing, held in Boston on November 6th & 7th, 2017, brought our programming to new heights. We were inspired by the high levels of interactivity woven into the two days of programming, ranging from live polling during expert panels to critical dialogue about dealing with stigma in the face of the opioid crisis.
We heard from various AD practitioners across the United States and Canada, with an emphasis on improving health outcomes for patients dealing with risk of heart failure, those living with chronic diseases such as COPD and diabetes, and prevention for those at high risk of contracting HIV. Our sessions were diverse in terms of content as well as geographic representation--we learned from clinical education experts about the specific challenges of detailing in rural areas, as well as from those whose role was to support detailers in the field by creating dynamic, engaging, and cost-effective educational materials.
We're grateful to the community of supporters of academic detailing, from those who work full-time in the field to those who are building programs; we were delighted to see old friends who've been attending since our very first conference, as well as to meet folks who are just getting started. If you can believe it, we're already thinking about NaRCAD2018, and we have our community to thank for it--so thank you, for raising the bar this year and bringing innovation, exciting progress, and new energy to our conference series. For those of you who missed out in person, you can enjoy highlights from 2017's program on our conference hub page.
We'll be announcing the dates for our 2018 conference in early January 2018, and we'll be opening the process for presentation applications on March 1st, 2018, so check our Conference Series page for both announcements. Whether you choose to present, attend, or tune in via on-demand video and social media, we wish you a happy rest of 2017, and we hope to help your program grow in 2018.
See you next year!
-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.
Navigating a Disorienting Healthcare Landscape | Jerry Avorn, MD, NaRCAD Co-Director
First, about the grammar. Readers under 65 will be forgiven if they never heard of the daytime television quiz show “Who Do You Trust?” that aired from 1957 to 1963. In it, male contestants were asked if they wanted to answer a question or whether they ‘trusted’ their wife to do so. Concerns by snarky little kids like me that it really should have been “Whom Do You Trust?” did not diminish the show’s popular appeal. Gender issues went totally undiscussed.
All grown up now and confronting a changing health care landscape, that still-sometimes-snarky little boy often wonders, as do many of my clinician colleagues, who can be trusted in the world of medical information, especially in relation to prescription drugs. Gone are the simpler times when one had to worry only about whether the drug ads and sales reps were really presenting a balanced picture of all the evidence, which was a hard enough challenge.
We now know that we also have to be concerned about off-label marketing campaigns offering impermissible (and often downright deceptive) statements about efficacy – excesses for which over $16 billion has now been paid to state attorneys general in legal penalties and settlements.
As I’ve noted previously, the courts and the FDA are also moving toward much more permissiveness with company claims about efficacy and safety. And in last year’s 21st Century Cures Act, Congress instructed the FDA to be more open to accepting lower standards for drug approval.
Then there are newer sources of information whose trustworthiness is not always clear. More and more, this includes the prescription benefit management (PBM) companies, which seem to be holding on to an ever-larger fraction of the funds flowing through their rich payment pipelines, yet provide little transparency about who gets to keep what rebate dollars, and for what reason. Once billed as cost-savings protectors and comparative effectiveness gurus, the PBMs are under increasing scrutiny, and asked to make their financial data transparent and to clarify just who’s saving what for whom (or is it ‘for who?’).
Nor can we always be sure what angle the payors are playing. Why is Drug A on the formulary, but not its sibling Drug B? It may be an astute purchasing decision, or just the result of a rebate hack. And how much are prior authorization rules and growing co-payments designed to promote evidence-based care, or other less worthy goals? Even clinical guidelines put out by third parties vary from the most rigorous to pretty sketchy.
This leads to one good answer to the ungrammatical question in our title. With these galloping changes in an ever-more marketplace-oriented health care system, every prescriber needs and deserves a smart, superbly informed colleague to rely on to get the best possible syntheses of the clinical evidence – someone who has no other agenda or motivation other than getting the facts right and transmitting them faithfully.
Each year, we can take less comfort in counting only on FDA-approved indications, or payor policies, or PBM choices, or advertised claims. The more compromised each of these sources becomes, the more we’ll need ‘honest brokers’ like well-trained and un-conflicted academic detailers, whose only duty is to communicate the fairest evidence summaries as effectively as possible. Like lightweight clothing in an era of global warming, it’s a need that’s only going to increase.
Thoughts? Reactions? Sound off below.
Jerry Avorn, MD, Co-Director, 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 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. Read more.
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.