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Health unit takes cue from pharmaceuticals for outreach

The Sudbury and District Health Unit hopes to take a cue from the pharmaceutical industry in its outreach to physicians. Dr.
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The Sudbury and District Health Unit is taking cues from the pharmaceutical industry in its outreach to physicians. File photo.
The Sudbury and District Health Unit hopes to take a cue from the pharmaceutical industry in its outreach to physicians.

Dr. Amanda Hey, the regional primary care lead with Sudbury's Northeast Cancer Centre, has worked as a liaison with the health unit to improve clinician engagement.

“Primary care and public health are very important for the health of the community, but quite often they work apart from each other,” Hey said. “My role is really coming from a family physician background to help bridge public health to primary care.”

In a presentation to the health unit's board of directors, Hey said a process called academic detailing, pioneered by the pharmaceutical industry, could help the health unit reach out to physicians.

Academic detailing is characterized by one-on-one consultations between physicians and other health-care professionals.

Pharmacy groups have used academic detailing to ensure physicians are prescribing medication that is in line with the latest studies and controlled trials.

In a public health context, said Hey, experts from the health unit could meet with physicians individually to make sure they are up to date on the latest immunization standards or guidelines on breast feeding, for example.

Hey said one-on-one meetings are found to be far more effective at sharing new information than written materials such as brochures.

In addition to educating frontline health-care workers on the latest best practices, academic detailing can help them find ways around barriers to care, she said.

For example, the health unit has promoted a baby-friendly initiative to encourage breast feeding. But clinical settings often lack appropriate spaces for mothers to breastfeed, Hey said.

Through one-on-one consultations with health unit experts, physicians could identify those barriers and find ways to remove them.

The health unit is currently working on implementing an academic detailing program, Hey said.

Jonathan Migneault

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