Jerry Avorn, MD, NaRCAD Co-Director
Often, in discussing academic detailing programs with current or potential sponsors, the question comes up: “Wouldn’t it be cheaper just to deliver the message to a whole group of clinicians at once, instead of the much more cumbersome process of talking to prescribers one at a time?” Sure, it would be cheaper.
So would just mailing (or e-mailing) memos to people telling them what to do, or requiring time-consuming groveling on 1-800-DROP-DEAD prior authorization numbers before a costly resource can be ordered. The problem is that cheaper solutions often don’t work, or don’t work well. We have decades of proof that putting health care professionals together in a darkened auditorium and subjecting them to a PowerPoint Tolerance Test does not reliably change behavior.
The main reason that academic detailing relies on one-on-one interactive communication is that it is the best way for the outreach educator to accomplish several key goals:
Well-trained academic detailers understand this, and they use the interactivity to craft a real-time, care-improvement message that best addresses the learning needs (and attitudes and biases!) of the person they’re visiting. Less competent academic detailers force their “targets” to sit still while they administer a canned micro-lecture monologue, which works poorly. They may feel they “got through all the points” they wanted to cover, but if there was no interactivity, no conversation, then the person they were talking at might as well have been falling asleep in a darkened amphitheatre.
We know this is the case from decades of experience and scores of randomized controlled trials. We also know, perhaps most compellingly, that when the drug industry wants to change what we know and about its products, it sends people to our offices to talk with us—it doesn’t rely only on the less expensive modalities of mailings, e-messages, and sponsored lectures.
So the next time someone suggests that it might be more inexpensive to just gather prescribers into a big room and have someone talk at them for an hour, agree with them. Then point out that it’s also less time-intensive to scarf down a Big Mac than eat a real meal, shoot off a series of emoticons rather than a personalized note, or listen to a ring tone of a Beethoven sonata rather than hear it performed by musicians. Cheaper isn’t everything.
Mike Fischer, MD, MS, NaRCAD Director
NaRCAD is thriving, thanks to the engagement and enthusiasm of our network of healthcare professionals working to improve patient outcomes. The best way to become more involved in that network is to join us for our 3rd International Conference on Academic Detailing. This year’s conference will be our most exciting and interactive event to date, with a stimulating 2-day program bringing together thought leaders for expert panels, best practices, breakout tracks, networking, and invigorating group discussions on innovations in the field.
Our keynote presentations will provide critical insights for everyone working to improve healthcare quality and patient outcomes. On Monday, Nov. 9th, Dr. Carolyn Clancy, Chief Medical Officer of the Veterans Health Administration, will highlight the VA’s use of academic detailing to address the epidemic of opioid overdose and misuse to save veteran’s lives. On Tuesday, Nov. 10th, Dr. Don Goldmann, Chief Medical and Scientific Officer at the Institute for Healthcare Improvement, will provide his insights on how to engage front-line clinicians in committing to change – drawing on IHI’s years of experience in promoting patient safety.
Many questions about academic detailing still need to be explored, new ideas generated, and connections made. We
need to foster solution-based discussion from a wide range of voices, representing clinical education, public health, practice transformation, government, the non-profit sector, hospital networks, academic institutions, and others. But the most important ingredient for the success of this event is you.
Join us as we work together to discover solutions, connect you with others that can amplify your impact and elevate your work, and share your experiences and insights on the best ways to navigate a rapidly-changing healthcare landscape. We hope you’ll join us this November 9th and 10th, and that you’ll help us spread the news about this unique, transformative event. See you in November!
Highlighting Best Practices
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