Adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities often face difficulties in accessing appropriate and timely health care. Many medical professionals who serve adults have not received sufficient training in the health care needs of adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD). As a result, the Vanderbilt Kennedy Center and the Tennessee Department of Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities (DIDD) are coordinating a series of live videoconferences with an experienced team of medical and other health care-related providers who can offer practical advice for caring for adults with IDD.
The videoconference coordinators saw a need for more in-depth instruction via telehealth technology after the release of the website Health Care for Adults with Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities: Toolkit for Primary Care Providers.
“After the launch of the IDD Toolkit website, we knew we wanted to do training with medical professionals, just as the Developmental Disabilities Primary Care Initiative in Ontario, Canada, had done training with physicians after the group had produced its consensus guidelines several years ago,” said Janet Shouse, IDD Toolkit program coordinator. “The IDD Toolkit is based upon the tools that came out of the Canadian consensus guidelines. We also have learned from families and individuals with disabilities of the great need for experienced and knowledgeable health care providers. Vanderbilt physicians, as well as many of us at the Vanderbilt Kennedy Center, routinely get requests for referrals for medical providers to care for adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities.
“When we were developing the series, we took a broad approach to health care, focusing on physical health, mental and behavioral health, and the transition to adult care, since that is very challenging both for the patient and the clinician who often doesn’t have an adult provider to whom he or she can refer the patient.”
The first videoconference took place on Aug. 31 and focused on the special health care needs of adults with IDD. Panelists included Tom Cheetham, M.D., DIDD Deputy Commissioner of Health Services, VKC member, and family physician; and Tiffany Hines, M.D., assistant professor of Medicine in Vanderbilt’s Division of General Internal Medicine and Public Health, and a physician. Cheetham and Hines addressed the need for more adult providers who are willing to welcome this population into their practices.
“As a family physician, it is difficult to find colleagues with whom to discuss complex adults who have an IDD,” said Cheetham. “An extremely enjoyable and valuable aspect of the video conferences is access to experienced clinicians from a variety of disciplines, but even more, the opportunity for real-time interactive discussion of the issues provides a level of education that written consultation reports alone do not provide. Given that training and experience may be quite limited, this helps build clinician confidence in problem solving with these patients.”
Neurologists, family practice physicians, nurse practitioners, emergency room physicians, internists, and dentists from around the U.S. and Canada took part in the videoconference via Zoom livestream technology.
“We hope to build capacity among community providers to better serve adults with IDD, to help clinicians feel more comfortable and more knowledgeable about the specific issues that adults with IDD may face, and to lessen the time patients have to travel to get appropriate care,” said Janet Shouse.
Future videoconference sessions are scheduled for the following dates:
- Nov. 16, 12-1 p.m. CT: “Transition to Adult Care.” Panelists will be Paul Dressler, M.D., assistant professor of Clinical Pediatrics in Vanderbilt’s Division of Developmental Medicine and a developmental behavioral pediatrician; Tiffany Hines; and Megan Hart, VKC Tennessee Disability Pathfinder program director; and
- Dec. 14, 12-1 p.m. CT: “Behavioral and Mental Health Needs of Adults with IDD.” Panelists will be Jana Dreyzehner, M.D., a child and adolescent psychiatrist; Beth Malow, M.D., chief of Vanderbilt’s Division of Sleep Disorders, director of Vanderbilt’s Sleep Disorders Clinic, neurologist, sleep specialist, and VKC investigator; and Bruce Davis, Ph.D., BCBA-D, director of DIDD Behavioral and Psychological Services and a behavior analyst.
“It is an amazing experience being medical director for the IDD Toolkit videoconferences,” said Beth Malow, who will be participating as a panelist in the Dec. 14 videoconference. “I am particularly excited about the community of practice we are building with clinicians across North America who are passionate about caring for adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities. This community will provide much-needed education and support for these clinicians and advance the quality of care for this population.”
Others participating in the sessions include Lana Jeradeh Boursoulian, M.D., adjunct assistant professor in Vanderbilt’s Neurology Department, Division of Sleep Disorders, and a neurologist; Taylor Fife, DNP, DIDD Director of Nursing, adjunct professor of Nursing, Vanderbilt School of Nursing, and a psychiatric nurse practitioner; and Elise McMillan, J.D., co-director of the VKC UCEDD, senior associate in VUMC Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, and faculty director for the VKC IDD Health Care Toolkit.
AMA PRA Category 1 Credit™ is offered to participants for each hour-long session. To register for the videoconference series, contact Janet Shouse at (615) 875-8833 or firstname.lastname@example.org. For more information on the IDD Toolkit, visit http://iddtoolkit.org.
Elizabeth Turner is program coordinator for VKC Communications.