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Academic Detailing Programs

What is academic detailing?

Academic detailing is outreach education for health care professionals. It uses the communication approach of pharmaceutical detailers, combined with the evidence-based, non-commercial aims of academic groups, and research centers. The term “academic detailing” reflects this hybrid concept.

The Alosa Health model uses specially trained clinical educators who meet one-on-one with physicians, nurse practitioners, and physician assistants (at their practice locations), to discuss the most recent research data on a particular medical topic. This approach provides an effective and convenient way for providers to stay up-to-date on the latest research findings, with the ultimate goal of improving prescribing decisions and patient care. We also provide training and consulting services.

With increased national focus on the cost and quality of health care, academic detailing presents an alternative method of meeting the information needs of health care professionals. Our approach helps prescribers make appropriate clinical decisions based on the best available safety, efficacy, and cost-effectiveness data. Because aggressive marketing of high-priced drugs increasingly strains public and private health care budgets, academic detailing has the potential to help control costs while improving patient care and health outcomes, thus aligning the interests of physicians, payers, and patients. When academic detailing programs reduce incorrect or over-prescribing even slightly, they can help to cover their own costs, making this approach increasingly appealing to health care organizations of all sizes.

How does academic detailing work?

Trained pharmacists, nurses, and physicians (often called “clinical educators”) visit with health care professionals in their offices to discuss appropriate therapeutic choices and patient care practices. Rather than promote particular products, clinical educators provide summaries of the evidence around a particular topic to help clinicians prescribe the safest, most effective medications for their patients. The information is compiled from research that is designed to compares the effectiveness, benefits, and harms of different medical treatment options. This provides a convenient and effective way to stay current on the latest medical findings regarding the health issues providers most commonly encounter.

Clinical Education Modules

Educational modules used in academic detailing can focus on a specific drug, drug class, disease state, or non-drug therapies and diagnostics. To be successful, an academic detailing program should stem from an identified need for more clinician education and be designed for specific health care provider targets and their opinion leaders. Each module is structured around a set of concise, clear-cut objectives and is written succinctly with the needs of busy clinicians in mind. To reinforce the module's messages and promote prescribing behavior change, the clinical educators can provide repeat visits with participants.

Although academic detailing programs typically focus on educating physicians, they can be tailored to deliver information to anyone in a medical practice, such as nurses, nurse practitioners, and physician assistants.

Where is academic detailing used?

Since 2005, Alosa Health has been providing academic detailing on prescription medications in partnership with the Pharmaceutical Assistance Contract for the Elderly (PACE) of the Pennsylvania Department of Aging. Additional partnerships include the Vermont Health Care Association and the Vermont Department of Disabilities, Aging and Independent Living.

While academic detailing has traditionally been used to disseminate information about pharmaceuticals, it can also be used to educate clinicians about non-drug therapies and diagnostics. Through a partnership with the Washington D.C. Department of Health’s HIV/AIDS, Hepatitis, STD and TB Administration (HAHSTA), Alosa Health is conducting academic detailing in the District to increase HIV and Hepatitis C screening through provider education programs. Click here for a list of our clinical modules.