Bridge2Care: Training U.S. health care workers to bring HIV-positive patients into care

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Merck & Co., Inc., Kenilworth, NJ USA posed a challenge: How could the company help dramatically improve the health of people with HIV in the U.S.? We conducted in-depth research and engaged more than 100 thought leaders and service providers to envision an optimal system in which everyone at-risk was tested, everyone infected promptly entered care – and then stayed there. To achieve this vision, we identified linkage to care as a high-priority gap where Merck & Co. could make a difference.

Strategy:  Recognizing the critical roles of hospital – and community-based health care workers in linking and retaining patients in care, we focused our efforts on increasing availability of training on skills related to communication, patient engagement and quality care.

Program: To deliver cost-effective, high-quality training where it was most needed, we created a scalable e-learning platform that combined video-based patient-provider simulations with health-games to create an immersive, engaging experience.

We built bridge2care.com in consultation with HIV experts from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the National Quality Center at the New York State AIDS Institute (NQC), identifying five training modules that follow the patient journey from testing through diagnosis and care initiation.

Constituencies and Reputation:  This project was undertaken to support the National HIV/AIDS Strategy and was launched by Merck & Co. at the XIX International Conference on AIDS. The training resource is available at no cost for users. Along with Merck & Co., we engaged in discussions about dissemination with the Office of National AIDS Policy at the White House, the CDC, the NQC, the National Minority AIDS Council and other stakeholders.

Evaluation: Based on initial pilot data from 25 HIV service organizations (comprising 56 front-line providers) in New York City, 93% of users reported that they felt prepared to implement the skills learned in bridge2care. In particular, users reported near universal approval of the training content, offering very high marks for site navigation, video content and training games.

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