By Ruth Adewuya, Theodore Bruno, Mindi Daiga, John R. Kues, Sara C. Miller, Alliance Expert Advisory Panel
To support broad initiatives to improve the health of the public through the education of healthcare providers and patients, the Alliance for Continuing Education in the Health Professions (Alliance) and Pfizer partnered to create project opportunities focused on increasing immunization rates of adults aged 19–64 years with immunocompromising conditions who are at increased risk for pneumococcal disease.
A request for proposals (RFP) was issued through the Alliance in the spring of 2019 for quality improvement (QI) projects that would directly address the low pneumococcal vaccination rates among patients with a variety of conditions that left them immunocompromised and at higher risk for serious health consequences related to pneumococcal pneumonia. For this collaboration with Pfizer, the Alliance designed an infrastructure for selection and oversight of several grants within this initiative. The Alliance put out a call for volunteers for an External Review Panel (ERP) of qualified reviewers who reviewed grant proposals submitted in response to the RFP. The ERP selected eight grant recipients based on pre-established criteria. The Alliance also recruited an Expert Advisory Panel (EAP) comprised of interprofessional continuing education healthcare professionals who have experience in QI projects. Their role was to support and mentor grantees and provide specific grant program process education throughout the lifecycle of this project. The original plan, interrupted by COVID, was for the recipients and EAP to meet face-to-face twice a year during the project period.
The following institutions were awarded grants through this program:
- Memorial Hermann Health System
- Mercy Medical Center
- Northwell Health
- University of Alabama at Birmingham
- University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences
- University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center
- University of North Carolina School of Medicine
- Veterans Health Affairs — Tennessee
The ERP selected this group of award grantees based on the diversity of projects to be implemented. These projects were designed to reach a variety of different patient populations and incorporate different education formats including traditional CME/CE, gamification and patient education. Adding to the complexity, many different types of organizational structures are reflected, some with affiliated clinics using the same or different electronic health record systems, and some with dozens of affiliated practices/sites. Although all projects were originally set to begin in July 2019, administrative issues spread actual starting dates from July through November. Ending dates for these projects vary from January through September of 2021.
Each awardee identified their own project goals, design and implementation plan within the parameters outlined in the RFP, yet all target practice gaps in immunization either for Serogroup B Meningococcal (MenB) or pneumococcal disease among adolescents to adults. Because these projects were in early implementation stages in spring 2020, all faced setbacks as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic and had to re-envision how to achieve their goals.
In the next several weeks on the Almanac, each participating institution will share the information about their QI project, including accomplishments and preliminary outcomes, challenges, how they have changed course in response to COVID-19 and lessons learned. We hope you will stay tuned throughout this series to learn from colleagues and celebrate their successes!