Lessons Learned: Implementation of a HIV/AIDS Community Information Outreach Project (ACIOP)

The University of Massachusetts Medical School (UMMS), Lamar Soutter Library (LSL) was awarded two ACIOP contracts. The contract in 2017-2018 was Bringing HIV/AIDS Information to the Heart of the Commonwealth, and in 2018-1019 the contract was HIV/AIDS Information at the Point-of-Care in Worcester, Massachusetts.

There was a suggestion during the mid-year webinar for awardees to use the ACIOP blog as a forum to communicate lessons learned to others interested in community information outreach. While I would like to say the UMMS contracts were implemented without any “bumps in the road”, that was not the case.  However, we were able to adjust and accomplish most of the goals of our project. It would be great to hear from others and learn how they overcame those “bumps”.

This blog post will focus on some of the challenges encountered as part of the HIV/AIDS Information at the Point-of-Care. The project is a collaboration between the Lamar Soutter Library at UMMS, UMass Memorial Healthcare (UMMHC), and AIDS Project Worcester (APW).

HIV/AIDS Information at the Point-of-Care encourages the use of evidence-based health information from the National Library of Medicine (NLM) to improve the understanding of health information by patients and enhance the conversation between healthcare providers and patients. Using funds from the contract, APW hired a part-time outreach worker to connect patients and their families with health information from NLM.

The point-of-care occurs at two HIV/AIDS clinics in Worcester, both staffed by UMMHC providers. One clinic operates once a week at APW and the other operates five days a week at Memorial Hospital, which is part of UMMHC. The APW outreach person works at both clinics. As part of the health encounter, providers give patients interested in more detail about their condition, an Information Prescription and the outreach person works with the patient to find the information

When we were writing the proposal, we had buy-in from people at UMMHC to install a workstation in the corner of the clinic waiting room and buy-in from APW to install a workstation at their clinic location.

We knew there were differences in the operations at the two clinics. However, we didn’t realize the challenge the differences would make in providing point-of-care services at each location.

  • The patients at the APW clinic are aware that most, if not all the patients were there for HIV/AIDS services. They were more comfortable with a staff member approaching them about evidence-based health information. After the initial contact, they could go to a private area for a more in-depth discussion.
  • However, at the Memorial Hospital clinic, it is not obvious that HIV/AIDS patients are treated at the clinic. There are no signs that it is an infectious disease clinic or anything else related to HIV/AIDS. Some of the providers who work out of the Memorial Hospital clinic location are from other specialties. Patients and providers are not as open about the HIV/AIDS status of patients in the clinic, and patients are not as comfortable discussing HIV/AIDS resources in this setting.

Despite the challenges, UMMS worked with our collaborators to adjust the procedures to meet the goals of the project. When at the Memorial Hospital clinic, the outreach worker used a laptop to meet with patients in another location, such as the small library located at Memorial Hospital. In the end, the APW Outreach Worker spent more time at the APW clinic and providing more PrEP outreach to the community.

The lesson learned is that even the best-planned projects may hit a bump in the road. When that happens, it is important to continue to move forward to meet the ultimate goals of the project. One of the advantages of the Logic Model is the ease of going back to the big picture and keep the focus on the project goals if the projects hit one of those bumps.

This blog post is my thoughts and does not necessarily reflect the views of UMMS, AIDS Project Worcester (APW), or UMass Memorial Health Care (UMMHC).  I served as the project manager for the two contracts: Bringing HIV/AIDS Information to the Heart of the Commonwealth HIV/AIDS Information at the Point-of-Care in Worcester, Massachusetts. Please feel free to contact me at penny.glassman@umassmed.edu if you have any questions.

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