We asked the members of the Almanac Editorial Board who were able to attend the Alliance 2023 Annual Conference, held in National Harbor, Maryland, Feb. 6-9, 2023, to reflect on the conference and outline some of their takeaways. If you were able to attend, we hope this re-invigorates your own reflections and perhaps reminds you of the actionable changes you wanted to take. If you were unable to attend, we want to give you a snapshot of the lessons learned and hope you can integrate this into your own continuing professional development. Make plans now to attend #Alliance24, Feb. 5-8, 2024 in New Orleans!
Reflections and Takeaways
I was tremendously moved by the keynote presentations by Dr. Russell J. Ledet, MD, PhD, MBA, ("Are We Committed to DEI Progress or Are We Committed to DEI Notoriety?") and Swapna Kakani, MPH, ("It's My Life: Valuing the Patient Perspective"). I heard them both emphasize that the patient’s view of “outcomes” might differ from those of the clinician or medical education professional. Dr. Ledet recommended that we work harder to form relationships with the individuals who are receiving care. Ms. Kakani emphasized the importance of patient input into treatment plans as well as educational initiatives.
I resolved to do the following:
- Read the book “Medical Apartheid,” by Harriet A. Washington, so generously donated by Dr. Ledet to the Alliance attendees.
- Ensure there is diverse patient input (not just from one country) into a specialty society patient education brochure and white paper in development.
—Erin Schwarz, Almanac Editorial Board Editor-in-Chief and Chair
Undoubtedly, CE providers have upped their outcomes game in recent years. However, a key take-home message for me after participating in the “Insights and Storytelling 2.0 Workshop” was that the industry is ready to take outcomes to the next level by better interpreting our outcomes data. You did a beautiful executive summary slide of 60+ slides of outcomes data. (First, pat yourself on the back, that’s tough to do.) But up your game again. Ask, “So what does this mean for patient health?” or “What does this mean for the identified healthcare gap?” Put it on your executive summary slide.
On the Monday after conference, I revamped our executive summary slide template to:
- Lead with the gap. After all, this is where the activity started.
- Visually tell the rest of the story (like you have likely already been doing).
- End with an enhanced insights and action section that addresses:
- What the data showed
- How the gap was addressed and/or what educational needs persist
- What action you would take today knowing what you know now (e.g., expanding the CE to a new audience, addressing a newly identified barrier, anecdotal evidence from learners that may tie back to the gap)
—Katie Robinson, PhD, CHCP, Almanac Editorial Board Vice Chair
As a first-time attendee of the Alliance Annual Conference, I was thoroughly impressed by the keynote speakers and breakout sessions. Personally, I felt like I was in a university setting with a variety of general education healthcare sessions.
Currently, I am working on a presentation for my colleagues about my experiences at the conference. As you may imagine, I had many “aha” moments that synced with my primary role and responsibilities but also aligned with my organization's core competencies.
An overall takeaway for me was the importance of every role in healthcare, whether you are a CME provider, clinician or patient. It is imperative that we focus on the educational content and not just obtaining CME credits, along with clear, effective communication and multidisciplinary collaborations.
—Karen Chiarini, MEd
Similar to Erin, I was so impressed with Dr. Russell J. Ledet, MD, PhD, MBA, and Swapna Kakani, MPH. These are exactly the type of keynote sessions where I feel inspired, and I am already engaged with my volunteer leadership to discuss how we can bring more voices and perspectives into our education programs. Additional sessions I attended that were really helpful were the combination of “Overcoming Disclosure Dilemmas” (led by Karen Overstreet, Jan Schultz and Andrew Crim) paired with “‘Can We Talk?’ Hard Conversations I’ve Had as a CE Professional” (led by Erin Schwarz and Joe Livigni). I plan to share the workflow that was provided in “Can We Talk” with my CME staff so my team members all have an ability to have these difficult conversations about COI.
—Lisa Cohen, CHCP
How are we addressing/measuring the impact to the patient? This is always a challenge when assessing the effectiveness of our education. The Wednesday panel keynote ("Be Indispensable: Focus CPD on Improving Patient Outcomes") and subsequent workshop that afternoon showed that the challenge of impacting patient health through CPD/CME is being addressed by many of our peers: from societies, to supporters, to health system CME departments and individual clinicians. The afternoon session, with small groups organized by provider type, created an opportunity for those who haven’t taken this step to hear from those who did. From large initiatives to small programs with only a dozen participants, focusing on patient health and measuring the impact is something that can be done.
It’s time to:
- Review proposals and their associated educational design. Are we addressing changes in clinician behavior that will impact patient health? If so, how are we measuring and assessing?
- Scrutinize outcomes reports. Are we providing data on the impact to patient health? Objective/subjective, quantitative/qualitative — there are ways to focus our outcomes measures on the patient.
—Kenny Cox, CHCP
Sometimes, even more important than the content can be the way a presenter chooses to engage the learners. During her session, “A Clear Path Forward: Creating Your Digital Learning Strategy,” Christine Keenan took us on a unique learning experience. There were legos and competitions. Opportunities to discuss as a team and then vote. Tricky questions and worksheets. At one point, we had to get up and walk to one side of the room to vote on what topics we wanted to discuss next. The experience reminded me of the value of learner engagement and movement, incorporating the learner into the content, and using gamification to motivate learners. Whether we are preschoolers or seasoned adult learners, we enjoy learning that engages us. Move aside “Sage on the Stage” — Christine demonstrated some sagely ideas on what we really need to be doing on the stage.
—Sapana Panday, MPH
As usual, the sessions at the Alliance 2023 Annual Conference were thought provoking and encouraged long-lasting improvements to our varied CME environments. There were two sessions I found very practical with tips that can be applied right away.
In “Overcoming Disclosure Dilemmas 2023 Edition: Navigating Nuance and Context” with authors Karen Overstreet, EdD, RPh, FACEhp, CHCP; Jan Schultz, MSN, RN, FACEHP, CHCP; and Andrew Crim, M.Ed., CHCP, FACEhp, participants were presented with real-world, case-based questions and given green, yellow and red sticky notes for color-coded audience responses (Yes, I don’t know and No) that changed as more information was uncovered. My takeaways are:
- When determining whether a startup company/entity is “eligible” or “ineligible,” research the company’s site for press releases or review presentations to potential investors — if they have started human trials, they are in Phase 1, which would make them “ineligible.” Or clarify with the faculty what phase they are in.
- Providers can choose not to include faculty with disclosures that they can’t properly research and/or mitigate (lack of resources cited as a reason), but if the decision is made to include them, do your due diligence with questionable companies/relationships.
- Regularly check the ACCME’s FAQs regarding ineligible companies.
In “Question Writing Workshop — Enhancing Skills to Develop a CE Question Into a True Test of Knowledge Gained” with Amy H. Seung, PharmD, BCOP, FHOPA, CHCP, and Julianna Merten, PharmD, BCPS, BCOP, participants were presented with sample questions the authors have encountered. The audience was polled to ask what should be revised for each one: the learning objective, question stem, answers/distractors, presentation content or no changes. Then three different revisions were offered, and the audience voted on the proposed modifications. My takeaways are:
- Map each question to a learning objective (seems simple but easy to overlook).
- Alphabetize answers with drugs or regimens.
- Use any repetitive information within the answers as part of the question stem instead.
- Take the liberty to revise a speaker’s question/answers when justified, and have them review/approve it — generally they will appreciate it.
—Beth Ryan Townsend, CHCP
Along with many others in the audience, I was stunned by the personal force of Dr. Russell J. Ledet’s, MD, PhD, MBA, plenary presentation, “Are We Committed to DEI Progress or Are We Committed to DEI Notoriety?” He broke free of the consciousness raising trap as some sort of autonomous activity and focused instead on social progress as a full contact activity. Pay attention, take a few risks, and rub shoulders with people unlike you.
“Shift Change: A Pulse Check on the Current Work Environment and Optimizing the Employee & Employer Experience,” led by Tina B. Stacy, PharmD, FACEhp, BCOP, CHCP, and Claudia St. John, SPHR, SHRM-SCPS, stretched my thinking about where our workplace is now and where it’s headed. Beyond the labor force shocks that followed the Great Recession and now, the pandemic, demography really is destiny. The employees you want are already working somewhere else, and the dearth of workers will not abate over the short to medium term. These changes will have profound implications on workplace dynamics and employer obligations to their employees.
My takeaways include:
- Audit my interactions and relationships to be more attentional and engaged, not just around DEI.
- Explore local opportunities to teach, such as at the local community college.
—Charles Willis, MBA, FACEhp
Image (from left to right): Karen Chiarini, MEd; Lisa Cohen, CHCP; Charles Willis, MBA, FACEhp; Erin Schwarz, Editor-in-Chief; Kenny Cox, CHCP; Katie Robinson, PhD, CHCP, Vice-Chair; Sapana Panday, MPH, CCMEP; Beth Ryan Townsend, CHCP; (unable to attend: Kate Biles, CHCP; Heather Ranels, CHCP, MS, MA)
Continue the Conversation
If you, like the Almanac Editorial Board, are implementing new ideas into your practice, we want to hear from you. Consider submitting an article to the Almanac about what learnings you are using post-conference and how they are impacting your work. Submit your article using this submission form.
Be sure to join us May 1–3 in Philadelphia for the Alliance Industry Summit (AIS), and save the date for the Alliance 2024 Annual Conference! We’ll be heading to New Orleans, Feb. 5–8, 2024.