Course Helps Providers, Payers Measure Quality to Improve HIV Medication Use

Human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) is a complex disease, and its prevention and treatment have progressed through scientific discoveries, clinical training, continuing education, and widespread public health campaigns. However, gaps in knowledge and practice remain, related to quality improvement and especially to medication use.

In response, the Pharmacy Quality Alliance (PQA) developed a 3-hour continuing education course, “Measuring Quality to Improve HIV Medication Use,” to help pharmacists and other health care professionals evaluate and improve the quality of HIV-related care.

Launched in September, this course provides an overview of how to build a patient’s optimal HIV treatment regimen and assess treatment outcomes. There is special emphasis on HIV prevention and the role of pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP), which are growing areas of pharmacist-provided care.

What distinguishes this course from other HIV continuing education courses is the focus on quality measurement and improvement. Quality measures are the standards for evaluating outcomes and addressing care safety, effectiveness, timeliness, and equity.

This course will provide the knowledge and skills to empower providers, including pharmacists, to support medication use quality and excel in emerging value-based care delivery systems. Pharmacotherapy is a cornerstone for successful HIV prevention and treatment. As such, it is a high-impact area for optimization of medication therapy for persons living with HIV.

A variety of quality measures currently exist for HIV care, including at least 13 medication-related measures. Those measures address:

  • Treatment, which includes appropriate prescribing, adherence, and monitoring.
  • Prevention, which includes secondary disease prevention and HIV prophylaxis.

The interdisciplinary focus of the course supports team-based approaches to quality improvement. Pharmacists are integral to the team-based care approach for people living with HIV. Pharmacists have high levels of trust among patients and consumers and are highly accessible in the community, particularly for people affected by adverse social determinants of health such as income, transportation, stigma, and other limitations which hinder access to care.

This program is nationally accredited for pharmacists, pharmacy technicians, nurses, and physicians. It is applicable for all levels of health care professions regardless of their experience level working with persons living with HIV.

Physicians, physician assistants, and nurses in many states are required to complete some HIV-focused trainings as part of their professional continuing education requirements. Additionally, pharmacists pursuing HIV-specific credentials can benefit from this CE course.

For health care professionals who focus primarily on people living with HIV, this course offers insight on applying quality improvement to improve patient care. This course teaches health care professionals about current quality measures in HIV prevention and treatment, as well as potential gaps in quality measurement. It is helpful for practitioners who may see an opportunity for improvement in their practice but struggle to implement changes.

The quality of HIV care is a focus for health care payers as well. HIV care, medications, prevention programs, and support services can be expensive. However, medication nonadherence, undertreatment, suboptimal access to PrEP and PEP, and comorbid conditions drive costs further, leading to worsening outcomes and negative impacts on quality of care.

A focus on quality supports patient satisfaction, positive health outcomes, and avoidance of unnecessary health care costs. Pharmacists and other health care professionals can make a significant impact on their patients, and this course gives them practical tools to implement in their practice immediately upon completion of the course.

The course is taught by four expert faculty.

Charles John Gonzalez, MD, has contributed to the development of HIV medical guidelines for more than 15 years. He teaches course participants about HIV population health and provides insights on the US Department of Health and Human Services’ Ending the HIV Epidemic in the US initiative.

Dave Hachey, PharmD, provides an overview of HIV treatment and prevention. He has more than 20 years of experience in HIV and family medicine and 10 years in hepatitis C management.

Ben Shirley, CPHQ, is PQA’s director of performance measurement, and provides an overview of the current and future HIV quality measurement landscape. He is joined by Jennifer Knight, FNP, MPH, who has extensive experience in coordinating and implementing quality improvement initiatives and expanded access programs.

To learn more about “Measuring Quality to Improve HIV Medication Use,” visit PQA’s website, which provides details and instructions on how to access the program.  The program can be taken independently or as part of PQA’s 15-hour Medication Use Quality continuing education program.

It is available online through PQA's Education Center ( Information on member pricing, discounts, and group purchasing opportunities is available by contacting PQA's education team at [email protected]. This CE activity was supported by an independent medical education grant from Merck & Co.

PQA is a national quality organization solely focused on improving medication safety, adherence, and appropriate use.

Amanda Ryan, PharmD, BCGP, CPHQ, PQA's director of education 

This article was first published by First Report Managed Care

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