Background on Provider Education
What are provider education strategies?
- Interventions that train qualified health care providers to diagnose asthma symptoms as well as counsel or provide advice to individuals about asthma management.
- This type of intervention is geared towards health care providers working in clinical settings including physicians, nurses, dentists, dieticians, etc.
- Provider education interventions can enhance providers’ knowledge and skills related to counseling individuals about behaviors related to asthma. This training offers health care providers access to information and resources about:
- the benefits of understanding the nature of the disease;
- the benefits of maintaining good lung function;
- how to improve culturally competent communication between individuals and health care providers;
- the benefits of identifying and avoiding triggers for asthma attacks; and
- the benefits of complying with appropriate medication regimens (e.g., using inhalers properly and accessing health care services when needed).
How can provider education impact asthma related behaviors?
- Health care providers are a primary and respected source of health information. Many individuals and families seek out the advice of health care providers to maintain their health and quality of life on a regular basis. Therefore, health care providers are ideally suited to have an ongoing influence on individual decisions to adopt certain behaviors.
What are provider reminder strategies and how can they be used in asthma interventions?
- Provider reminder interventions can be developed as part of provider training. A provider reminder intervention gives cues or prompts to increase the likelihood that health care providers will discuss asthma with individuals. Provider reminder interventions utilize various strategies to prompt providers to discuss asthma with individuals, including changes to the individual’s chart (e.g., stickers, colored folders), changes in the physical environment (e.g., posters in exam rooms), or personal prompts (e.g., laminated pocket-sized information sheets).
What types of settings are appropriate for provider education strategies?
- Provider education interventions are usually offered to health care professionals in public or private health care settings, including a provider’s office, hospital, pharmacy, health department, or assisted living facility. However, health care providers with or without specialized medical training can participate in provider education interventions training for nontraditional settings, including communities (e.g., mobile clinics), schools (e.g., school nurses), worksites (e.g., health screening), faith-based settings (e.g., health ministry) or homes.
Where are opportunities for interventions in during patient visits?
- As part of their interaction with individuals, health care providers typically provide the following:
- An assessment of an individual’s behaviors related to asthma, and readiness to make behavior changes. This assessment enables the provider to give personally relevant information to the individual about their needs. For example, it may be used to increase knowledge or awareness, change attitudes, provide social support, or teach skills for using various self-management techniques.
- An opportunity for the individual to ask questions or clarify what they have been told. This exchange with the provider can help to ensure that the individual understands the information and recommendations that they have been provided.
- Referrals and resources within the community to assist the individual in following recommendations for managing asthma.
- Subsequent interactions between the provider and individual, which may include a reassessment of the individual’s behaviors as well as updates to their self-management plan.
- The information given to patients or clients may be provided face-to-face or over the phone, during a single session or over multiple sessions, or through informational materials including brochures or videos created for this purpose.
What are the best methods for educating health care providers?
- Provider education training works best if it is hands-on and practical. This may include discussions among health care providers about how to counsel or provide advice to specific individuals (e.g., those with special health care needs, those who show no change over time), how to respond to individual barriers to asthma self-management including how to reduce environmental triggers, how to reach high risk populations, how to work in different settings, and how to integrate effective practice strategies into different practice styles.
- Previous studies also suggest that it is important to consider longer-term education strategies, tailor provider education about asthma to specific behaviors, and train providers on community and policy influences on these behaviors in addition to the more traditional focus on individual services. It is also useful to share methods for patient tracking, repeat counseling and referrals as appropriate. Interventions should be accomplishable in a quick and succinct manner.
What are the barriers to implementing provider education interventions?
- It is difficult to understand the effectiveness of these interventions because the interaction between the provider and individual is unique for each individual, short in duration (often less than 5 minutes), may involve recommendations for multiple behaviors at once (e.g., be more physically active and quit smoking), or may lack institutional support for sharing this type of information during a visit (e.g., policies, procedures, training, or incentives).