Quality improvement: Eye on Outcomes

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With CME providers and sponsors facing an unprecedented level of scrutiny from Congress —underscored by requests for CME-funding disclosures and Sunshine Act companion bills in the House and Senate—physicians, companies and providers are looking for clarity and instruction in an evolving industry.

Emerging technology in the form of electronic longitudinal medical records (EMR) and EMR clinical desktop software, for instance, allows users to query data to identify patient-information gaps, explains Marissa Seligman, PharmD, chief, clinical & regulatory affairs and compliance officer, SVP, Pri-Med Institute. 

“EMR software, not surprisingly, provides access to thousands of de-identified patient records, and that is a great thing,” explains Seligman during MM&M's recent webcast, Eye on Outcomes. EMRs can be used to survey symptoms, test results, interventions and patient responses to health treatments.  “Historically, [EMRs are] a reimbursement tool, not an assessment tool.  CME-provider clinical expertise is essential to effectively translate findings into actionable implications for curriculum planning,” adds Seligman.

On CME funding and resources, Robert Kristofco, MSW, director, medical education, medical education group, US external medical affairs, Pfizer, notes the “enormous opportunity for collaboration,” citing quality improvement organizations on the state level— which are funded by Medicare and Medicaid programs.  These organizations provide a “natural place to secure data needed to get questions answered around some of the quality improvement issues, especially in terms of measurements,” explains Kristofco during the webcast.  

Additionally, Kristofco mentions opportunities with payers “seeking to get beyond receiving claims data [for CME programs], and finding out more about the quality of the programs rendered, and while [corporate sponsors] aren't jumping at the chance, there are certainly pilot programs in that arena.  From the point of view of the pharma industry, there is a broadening understanding of the changes taking place in CME and the kind of expectations and opportunities that represents.”

Nancy L. Davis, PhD, executive director, National Institute for Quality Improvement and Education, provides a historical context for current CME practices, touching on the American Medical Association's 2001 task force which provided performance improvement, followed by the American Association of Family Physicians contributions toward “integrat[ing] quality improvement” in CME, and the importance of working together in order to facilitate growth.  “Moving from knowledge improvement to performance improvement” is key, says Davis.
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