Here’s the good news: academic detailing is becoming so widely accepted that everyone wants to help provide the evidence that is disseminated. That’s also the bad news; worrisome examples range from the grotesque to the sinister. One eminent health policy expert wanted to know how much it would cost to put together a nationwide academic detailing program (my heart leaped) that would be underwritten by the pharmaceutical industry (dammit).
Prescription drug management (PBM) companies now offer so-called academic detailing services as part of their contracts with payors to oversee drug choices and spending. Sounds good until one realizes that a large chunk of PBM revenue come from payments by manufacturers to move market share to their products. So much for communicating evidence that is neutral, unbiased, and non-commercial.
You’d think we’d have learned our lesson by now. Do universities or insurers or government fail to offer enough continuing education about prescribing? No problem, drugmakers will be more than happy to fill the gap, either for free or at amazingly low cost…. often with really great food. That local clinical expert who shows up at Grand Rounds to provide an overview of all the new treatments for diabetes, at no cost to the hospital? Don’t ask who’s paying him to be there. And those convenient smartphone apps that provide so much handy dosing information for any drug you can think of? All you have to do is read the commercial messages that pop up on your way to the data, as the vendor promises its pharmaceutical sponsors the chance to "embed your brand message at multiple points across the care continuum."
There is a solution to the concern about who’s providing the content for academic detailing programs, and it’s much easier than figuring out whether a particular Facebook ad is brought to you by a Russian bot. Just expect that any purveyor of AD information will reveal clearly all the financial ties it and its authors have with any drug or device maker, in relation to program sponsorship as well as the creation and editing of the clinical content. After years of being misled about hidden data on adverse events or failed studies, we’ve developed a higher set of expectations about disclosing all information about clinical trials, and the need to reveal authors’ financial ties for published studies.
Those same higher standards must also be applied to academic detailing programs, so that its audiences will know whether the material is the carefully vetted work of a team of unconflicted reviewers who don’t work for any manufacturers, or is instead yet another terribly sophisticated new way to market particular products.
Want more? Peruse the archive of Jerry's pieces here on DETAILS.
Jerry Avorn, MD | NaRCAD Co-Director
Dr. Avorn is Professor of Medicine at Harvard Medical School and Chief of the Division of Pharmacoepidemiology and Pharmacoeconomics (DoPE) at Brigham & Women's Hospital. A general internist, geriatrician, and drug epidemiologist, he pioneered the concept of academic detailing and is recognized internationally as a leading expert on this topic and on optimal medication use, particularly in the elderly. Read more.
Trainee Update Series: Where Are They Now?
Bevin K. Shagoury, Communications & Education Director
Hi, Emily! We’re happy to reconnect with a NaRCAD trainee, and to feature your current work on this month’s blog. Can you tell us a little about yourself and how you ended up working at the National Colorectal Cancer Roundtable?
I’ve worked in public health for 12 years, and in seven of those years I’ve focused on cancer screening and prevention. I got to know NaRCAD while working at the Washington State Department of Health, where I designed their approach and curriculum to coach primary care clinics and health systems on quality improvement strategies to increase colorectal cancer screening. Then last summer I joined the American Cancer Society as the National Colorectal Cancer Roundtable’s new associate director.
In this role much of my work is still focused on developing educational resources for providers, but I’m also involved in efforts to increase colorectal cancer screening through other channels, such as public education and policy. I learned so much about effective methods for conducting clinical education from the NaRCAD Academic Detailing training that I participated in back in October 2012. I’m grateful to have the opportunity to reconnect with NaRCAD, and thank you for the opportunity to share an update on my work!
Tell us a little bit about background and goals of the Roundtable.
The Roundtable, established by the American Cancer Society (ACS) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in 1997, is a national coalition dedicated to reducing the incidence of and mortality from colorectal cancer in the U.S., through coordinated leadership, strategic planning, and advocacy. Today, the Roundtable is a collaborative partnership with more than 100 member organizations across the nation. Through the efforts of several task groups, the Roundtable advances initiatives that focus on provider education, public education, health policy, quality and disparities issues.
Thanks in part to the work of many of our members, colorectal cancer incidence and mortality rates have dropped by over 30% in the U.S. among adults 50 and older in the last fifteen years, with a substantial fraction of these declines due to screening. Yet, despite the good news, colorectal cancer remains the second-leading cause of cancer death in the U.S. when men and women are combined.
The Roundtable is focusing on a great initiative called “80% by 2018.” What’s the story behind this movement?
To accelerate efforts to increase colorectal cancer screening, the Roundtable launched the 80% by 2018 initiative in March of 2014. 80% by 2018 is a movement in which hundreds of organizations have committed to substantially reducing colorectal cancer as a major public health problem and are working toward the shared goal of reaching 80% of adults aged 50 and older screened for colorectal cancer by 2018.
To date over 650 organizations – including medical professional societies, academic centers, survivor groups, government agencies, cancer coalitions, cancer centers, payers and many others – have signed a pledge to make this goal a priority. If we can achieve 80% by 2018, 277,000 cases and 203,000 colorectal cancer deaths would be prevented by 2030. You can learn more about 80% by 2018 and pledge your organization’s support on our 80% by 2018 webpage.
You attended a NaRCAD Academic Detailing Training a few years back to practice skills in clinical outreach education. Can you tell us a little bit about the highlights of your experience?
Academic detailing and practice facilitation are relatively new fields, so when I first accepted a job that included these skills I felt a little in over my head! I was up for the challenge, though, since I saw provider education and training as a way to move further upstream in making substantive and sustainable changes that would positively affect public health. It can take a while for new clinical findings to get implemented in primary care, so I saw that academic detailers and practice facilitators serve a key role in getting these findings into clinical practice.
My two-day Academic Detailing Training with NaRCAD taught me practical skills to work in this role, and gave me the confidence to know I could be effective without a clinical background. The highlight was the role-playing and one-on-one feedback from experienced academic detailers. Their personal feedback was not something I could have found in a book or online training.
What tools from the training do you think are most relevant to active detailers in the field?
Some of the most valuable tools I took from the training were the interpersonal skills needed to be effective as an academic detailer. The tips on how to solicit buy in after sharing a practice change was incredibly useful, such as asking: “does this sound like something you’d be willing to try in your practice?”
It was also really helpful to learn how to approach sharing a clinical update that could potentially make a provider feel as though they had been delivering inappropriate care. The training taught me how to navigate these discussions by saying that while something might be common practice it’s no longer supported by the latest clinical evidence. In my experience, providers were very receptive to learning new clinical updates when it was shared in such a way that they did not feel they were being reprimanded for not knowing already knowing the latest evidence.
Thanks for chatting with us. We’re happy to help get the word out about “80% by 2018” and looking forward to hearing the results of the initiative.
Thank you for the opportunity! I enjoyed reconnecting with you and reflecting on how my training with NaRCAD has enriched my work in clinical education. I’d like to encourage any readers that are interested in 80% by 2018 and efforts to increase colorectal cancer screening to learn about the campaign. And there are lots of great tools and resources in the provider education section of our website that might be of particular interest to academic detailers.
Emily Butler Bell is the Associate Director of the National Colorectal Cancer Roundtable. In this role she manages a number of projects that support the 80% by 2018 initiative, a movement in which hundreds of organizations are working toward the shared goal of reaching 80% of adults aged 50 and older screened for colorectal cancer by 2018. Prior to joining the Roundtable, Emily served as the Cancer Screening Quality Improvement Consultant for the Washington State Department of Health, where she designed their approach and curriculum to coach primary care clinics and health systems on quality improvement strategies to increase colorectal cancer screening.
Prior to that, Emily worked with the American Cancer Society in Austin, TX as a Cancer Information Specialist and later as a Health Insurance Specialist, where she gained insight into the access and affordability issues surrounding colorectal cancer screening. She holds a Master’s in Public Health from Boston University and a B.A. in Psychology from the University of California, Santa Cruz.
We’ve just celebrated the 5th anniversary of NaRCAD, the only national resource center and network advancing clinical outreach education. We’re also celebrating a terrifically successful 2015. Highlights included running two sold-out academic detailing techniques trainings here in Boston; traveling to San Francisco and Oklahoma City for two customized off-site trainings; and bringing everyone together for #NaRCAD2015: Motivating Change, Transforming Care, our most successful annual conference so far.
We’re proud of it all, and more, including the brand-new NaRCAD Website—enjoy and explore a new gateway to academic detailing, including more interactive resources and expanded opportunities for connection, learning, and sharing. With so much to celebrate from 2015, we’re setting the bar high with big goals for the year ahead. Here’s what we’ll be up to in 2016, with you as our partners:
Transformative Trainings: Registration for our May training in Boston is open and already filling up fast! We’re also happy to be in high demand for at least 5 “on-the-road” educational sessions and related projects across the US this year. If you want to learn more about the ways we can share our resources and expertise to help your clinical outreach education program grow and succeed, let us know—we’d love to learn about what you’re doing and see how we can help.
#NaRCAD2016: Collaborating to Create Change. Our annual conference is the capstone of the year, so mark your calendars for November 14-15, 2016. What’s new this year? #NaRCAD2016 will feature opportunities to submit a proposal to showcase your clinical outreach education experience, data, and insights with the rest of the NaRCAD community. Keep your eyes on your e-mail and our conference page for more details about submission, coming soon.
More Collaboration for Improved Health Outcomes: With 5 years of partnerships under our belt, we’re continuing to connect every day with new colleagues working in the field of AD and clinical outreach education. We’re excited to keep expanding our community and creating opportunities for deeper collaboration across programs. We invite you to stay connected as we continue to publish new blogs and interviews, feature partners on our network directory, expand our Learning Center offerings, and recommend evidence-based health news and events on our social media feeds.
Most of all, our team wants to hear from you! Drop us a note to tell us what you’re doing, and tell us how we can help strengthen your program and highlight your successes.
See you this year!
Dr. Mike Fischer
by Michael Fischer, MD, MS, & Bevin K. Shagoury
Changes in healthcare are accelerating faster than ever, amplified by the immediacy of virtual communication. New research studies or guidelines appear simultaneously in traditional media, online news sites, and social media. Front-line clinicians may not have the time to review the actual data before incorporating new information into their practices. We’ve seen this recently with topics such as managing cholesterol and hypertension, the safety and possible overuse of pain medications, and new treatments for hepatitis C.
These topics present a challenge not only for clinicians and their patients, but for those who work on medical education and quality improvement efforts. Educational messages cannot be static; rather, organizations working to promote change and improvement need to identify new evidence, incorporate it into interventions and bring it to frontline clinicians. Amidst the steady stream of research and new discoveries, along with ongoing debates about those findings, how do organizations work to effectively assess needs, share best evidence, and improve healthcare outcomes?
NaRCAD is uniquely positioned to help address this question, serving as a powerful and integral link between the best evidence and frontline clinicians by supporting academic detailing programs and related outreach interventions. We’re leaders in the field, providing training and support to health care organizations to establish effective academic detailing programs, working with partners to develop academic detailing program templates which can be adopted by others, and sustaining a network of programs sharing best practices in academic detailing to improve patient health outcomes.
Evidence aside, observation and insight tells us that healthcare, like the populations it serves, is organic; constantly changing, growing, and redefining the best next steps to improve the quality of care and patient outcomes. As new medical evidence emerges and new delivery system innovations are introduced, we at NaRCAD look to help those changes enter practice in a way that most benefits patients and public health. Learn more about us, or tell us how we can help you.
Highlighting Best Practices
We highlight what's working in clinical education through interviews, features, event recaps, and guest blogs, offering clinical educators the chance to share successes and lessons learned from around the country & beyond.