Lichti: So, how did this partnership unfold?

Meg Burke: A couple of years before I met Dr. Holsey, I worked on a project with Michael B. Foggs, MD, FACAAI, at the NMA. He helped us develop an initiative that would help primary care physicians incorporate spirometry in their practices. Dr. Foggs was our local presenter in the Chicago area, where he teamed up with a National Jewish Health physician, Barry J. Make, MD, to provide an in-depth spirometry workshop. Dr. Foggs was extremely enthusiastic about the collaboration, and saw a big need for this type of education for the NMA members, specifically the Asthma, Allergy, and Immunology Section. He introduced Dr. Holsey to me, and we’re now in our third year of collaboration.

Lichti: Dr. Holsey, tell us a bit about your organization and what desired outcomes you envisioned through this partnership.

Holsey: NMA is the nation’s oldest and largest organization representing African-American physicians and health professionals in the United States, with a mission to advance the art and science of medicine for people of African descent through education, advocacy, and health policy to promote health and wellness, eliminate health disparities, and sustain physician viability. Not only was I introduced to NJH through Dr. Foggs, I also had contact via my role on the Association of Asthma Education Board. One of our past presidents of AAE served in a leadership position at NJH. Therefore, I was aware that NJH was a quality organization and supported and encouraged the collaboration between the Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology Section of NMA and NJH.

Our partnership with NJH on the chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, or COPD, initiative was designed to close practice gaps in utilization of spirometry. NJH brought with them the reputation as the nation’s top respiratory hospital, and thus, the ability to assist with physician self-reported practice change data. During the three years that NJH and the NMA have collaborated, the activities have been multi-supported by Forest, Merck, Pfizer, and Sunovion.

Lichti: How did the development of this initiative unfold?

Burke: After discussing our partnership at length with Drs. Holsey, Foggs, and Make, we decided to reach out to the COPD Foundation to collaborate on this project as well. The COPD Foundation had been involved in our initial spirometry activity, and they were an awesome addition because they added the patient care and patient education components to our activity. At each meeting, the COPD Foundation sent out a spirometry trainer with spirometers and other equipment, who worked in small groups with the participants to teach them hands-on spirometry, as well as bring lots of patient education materials that participants could bring back to their offices. The fact that we had very different partner groups, including an academic medical center, a medical society/association, and a patient advocacy group, really made sure all our stakeholders were well represented in our program.