Addressing Pandemic Needs

Pandemic Spurs Shift to Virtual Provider Training

By: Lisa Honigfeld, PhD

Providing ongoing training and guidance to pediatric primary care providers is always a top priority for the Child Health and Development Institute (CHDI). However, now more than ever due to the COVID-19 pandemic, CHDI recognizes that pediatric primary care providers need support. Many practices are open few hours, limiting the types of visits they do, and providing a lot of care through telehealth. Despite these accommodations, CHDI remains committed to providing up to date information through virtual provider training so practices can optimally serve patients in this time of uncertainty.

CHDI’s Educating Practices program, a collaborative effort with Connecticut Children’s Office for Community Child Health (the Office), recognized that our in-office academic detailing sessions were no longer compatible with responses to the COVID-19 pandemic so we pivoted to ensure that these training sessions could continue using virtual technology.

Educating Practices Background

CHDI launched the Educating Practices academic detailing program in 2004 to expand the capacity of pediatric primary care practices to address areas of care that are supported by State health policy and community resources. Through Educating Practices, trainers visit pediatric practices to provide information and training in implementing targeted changes. Educating Practices visits 80 pediatric primary care sites each year to help practices implement important changes that improve patient care, such as developmental screening, promoting protective factors among families, suicide prevention, lead screening, and several others.

Shifting Existing Training Modules

Several of the Educating Practices trainings are particularly relevant in this time when families are under a lot of stress. As it is now imprudent to visit practices with onsite education, Educating Practices is offering its 21 training modules, which include such topics as autism, ADHD, behavioral health screening, care coordination, and domestic violence as Zoom presentations. The same faculty trainers who lead the in-office trainings now lead the virtual presentations. Practices are still able to earn Continuing Medical Education credits and move on to an associated Practice Quality Improvement activity if they are interested in doing so. We are also still able to provide lunch for them, as is customary for our in-person sessions, as long as they are in the office and willing to accept take-out food from a local vendor.

To learn more about Educating Practices, click here.

Creating New COVID-19 Training

Educating Practices developed and launched an online presentation that addresses many family stress issues associated with COVID-19 and provides information on helpful resources for families. The presentation covers a variety of issues that providers can address during well-child and other visits, in person or virtually, including family violence, home safety, nutrition and physical activity, mental health, trauma, and social isolation. Trainers from the Education Practices program, including many from the Office, provided the information for this presentation. We hope providers will explore these topics with families when they are in contact with them for well child visits, sick visits, or when checking in with families. The presentation is available on the Educating Practices COVID-19 resource page.

Providing Enhanced Behavioral Health Support

Behavioral health topics and support are central to the offerings in the Educating Practices program. We know that families are under unprecedented stress at this time due to concerns about employment, social isolation, and caring for children who are out of their daily routines; all issues that exacerbate mental health issues.  In response, CHDI hosted a webinar highlighting mental health resources that are available to families in Connecticut, including those available through the Department of Children and Families and Connecticut Children’s Center for Care Coordination. The webinar and information about the resources covered during the presentation are available here.

To read additional blog posts on how Connecticut Children’s Office for Community Child Health is pivoting to address the needs of children and families during COVID-19, click here.

In the midst of an unprecedented public health crisis that will have long lasting implications for children, their families, and pediatric providers, we are encouraged that so many services are making the shift to virtual delivery, and we are pleased that Educating Practices has done this. Our programs, service systems, and public policies have displayed extraordinary resilience and flexibility in meeting the needs of children and families and the providers who care for them. Changes to the Educating Practices program are but one example of how committed CHDI and the Office are to supporting providers in this difficult time.

To schedule an Educating Practices session for your practice, contact Maggy Morales – Educating Practices Coordinator,, 860-679-1527.

Lisa Honigfeld, PhD, is senior advisor to Connecticut Children’s Office for Community Child Health and vice president for health initiatives at the Child Health and Development Institute of Connecticut.

To sign up to receive E-Updates from Connecticut Children’s Office for Community Child Health, click here.

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