Focus Groups at the 2017 ACAAI Annual Meeting
Sunday, October 29, 2017 
│ Boston, MA

Purpose of focus groups
The purpose of these focus groups was to hear from ACAAI’s younger membership on their educational needs and preferences.

Focus group objectives were to…

  • Identify learner preferences, including educational formats, that are appealing to younger membership.
  • Discuss what ACAAI does, or does not do, in its educational offerings to help fulfill knowledge and practice gaps in Allergy/Immunology.
  • Discuss how the College can address concerns over the future of Allergy/Immunology.

Methods
Three focus groups were convened at the 2017 ACAAI Annual Meeting. Two of the focus groups consisted of newly practicing allergists/immunologists with less than 5 years of experience, each of those groups had 9 participants. The third focus group consisted of Fellows-in-Training, which had 11 participants. The sessions were facilitated by one ACAAI staff member and one member of the Accreditation & Certification Committee. The sessions were recorded. The recordings were mined for relevant comments, and the frequency of each comment was tabulated.

Summary of Results

  • Focus group participants agreed that their number one reason for attending the Annual Meeting was to gain a new perspective and to hear what other practitioners are doing; it was mentioned that a good format for this is the pro/con debate because it allows you to see differences in provider care that enables you to formulate your own informed opinion. Several participants said they want to hear from physicians outside the practice of Allergy/Immunology, to better understand their “clinical language,” so that they can better co-manage patients.  Further to this point, networking is a critical element for them because it allows one to gain a different perspective on how to treat specific cases. They would like more time at the Annual Meeting, and outside of the Annual Meeting, to interact and talk with their colleagues; and, they would like these to not be industry sponsored.
  • The literature review is still considered a very valuable resource at the Annual Meeting.
  • One interesting suggestion presented was for an Allergy/Immunology podcast, with possibly even the audio from the annual meeting available; it would be an effective use of the commuting time.
  • The mobile app is very well-received, but they don’t think the value of the app was marketed effectively because people didn’t know you could get the slides from the app.
  • There seemed to be a lack of awareness of what the College offers in terms of resources. Many have trouble navigating the College website and could not locate the College Learning Connection.  The main issue with the College website was that it was difficult to navigate and the search function provided did not work well.
     

Results
 

TOPIC

COMMENTS (N=29)

FREQUENCY OF COMMENT

ACAAI

The top three words used to describe the College now are: Clinically applicable/Practical, Approachable/Welcoming, and Education

27

ANNUAL MEETING

Networking: need more time to interact and talk with colleagues, allows you to gain a different perspective, provide non-industry social activities, provide online networking options,

25

ANNUAL MEETING

It was suggested that the literature review be part of the virtual meeting, that it cover drug allergy more, and that it be made into a podcast format; it is still seen as very valuable. There is an interest in having an Allergy/Immunology podcast that would also include AllergyWatch

18

ANNUAL MEETING

Main reason they come to the Annual Meeting is to gain a new perspective - see differences in provider care and hear what other practitioners are doing (one format suggested was the pro/con debate, also a panel session with practitioners from different practice types was suggested)

18

ANNUAL MEETING

There is a desire to have more affordable educational options, more hands-on activities, more coverage of immunology, more programming specific to FITs, more “late-breaking research” talks, to incorporate more implementations strategies into talks, more female speakers, better communication on how to get involved in the College (e.g., participate in the FIT Bowl), a toolkit for transitioning from Fellowship to Practice, more resources for board review (i.e., question bank).

18

ANNUAL MEETING

Things that prohibit them from coming to the Annual Meeting: cost (travel and fees for courses), location (it was mentioned that the Midwest is not utilized enough for meetings), ability to take time off,

18

ACAAI

Email is the best form of communication, but they wish they were less frequent, that they didn’t end up in their SPAM, that they were more targeted to specific audiences, and that they were succinct

17

ACAAI

Mentoring is seen as valuable, but they want to be matched with mentors that meet their needs/preferences

16

ANNUAL MEETING

Popular sessions at the 2017 Annual Meeting were: Food Allergy, Mastocytosis, Chronic Cough, and small format sessions.

15

ACAAI

College website: difficult to navigate (esp. search engine), difficult to find what you are looking for (CLC), it was suggested there be a video on how to navigate the website.

13

CME/MOC

Lack of knowledge about CME/MOC and state licensing requirements - it was suggested there be a video explaining CME/MOC for newer allergists.

11

ACAAI

Other words used to describe the College now are: motivating, collaboration, comprehensive annual meeting, inclusive,

10

ACAAI

Social media: the would like closed groups on Facebook and Twitter (e.g., New Allergists, Difficult cases, etc.), and they would like more interaction on social media

10

ANNUAL MEETING

They are interested in interdisciplinary sessions - hear other disciplines perspective on treating patients, and understand their language for improved continuity of care / co-managing patients

10

ANNUAL MEETING

Future topics for Annual Meeting should include: practice management (billing/coding), biologics (comparing the newly released ones), how to have difficult conversations (e.g. telling a patient they don't need food testing), negotiating salary/benefits, and future formats suggested was the flipped classroom and a difficult/mystery cases session and have a panel of experts debate how they would treat that patient.

9

CLC

There is a general lack of awareness of the College Learning Connection and what it contains.

9

CME/MOC

Where they get their CME: They go to UpToDate or find the easiest way to get the most CME.

8

ANNUAL MEETING

Other reasons they come to the Annual Meeting: to reconnect with schoolmates, they have access to experts that are very approachable, and they come to network.

8

ANNUAL MEETING

Mobile app: market its value better, be able to evaluate sessions through the app,

7

ACAAI

What they are looking for in a professional society: one-stop-shop, cutting-edge, innovative, organized,

6

ACAAI

Surveys sent out should take 1-2 minutes to complete, be mobile-friendly, not have required fields

5

ACAAI

Jobs: they want a forum on the website for job postings and notification options for when something new is posted

2

Conclusions
The results of the focus groups have been shared with the ACAAI Education Committees, who will address suggestions given in the coming year. The College is grateful for the insights provided by the participants, and looks forward to enhancing the membership experience.