Do you have a burning question for someone in the grantor space, or are you in need of an answer to a frequently asked, grant-related question? Check out part four of the new Almanac series, “Ask the Grantor.” This series, created by and for Alliance members, offers a place where these questions can be answered for all to see. Because grantors' policies and procedures differ, we have asked multiple Alliance members from the Industry Alliance for CE section (IACE) to weigh in on the questions. Both questions and answers will remain anonymous. Before you read on, check out the first three parts of the series (part one, part two and part three) on the Almanac.
Question 1: Do you only fund educational activities that are set up to impact patient outcomes?
Ultimately, all educational activities should have the goal of improving patient outcomes by increasing the knowledge, competence and/or performance of individual healthcare providers or healthcare teams. However, not all topics, therapeutic areas or disease states warrant an activity that reaches “Level 6,” and those activities that set out to reach that level must be planned, implemented and assessed to meet it. A rare disease may be unknown — educating healthcare providers to just diagnose that disease will impact the outcome of the patient who hasn’t felt seen or heard prior to that.
Yes. In our profession we’ve always said: “Begin with the end in mind.” If, before we begin, we ask, “Is the proposed education likely to inform better patient care?”, the question becomes the lens through which we view all of our work. In particular, education that may seem tertiary or indirectly connected to patient care often has the greatest impact — whether it be a case example focused on formulary decision-making and access to medicines, a workshop to improve communication strategies, or a webinar about reinvigorating a small group practice to offer more efficient and reimbursable patient services. All roads lead to the patient — it is our professional remit.
No, this all depends on the educational gap and how it is best believed to be tackled. This could be through various means, including knowledge, competence, performance, etc., or for the right needs and program design to impact patient outcomes. We design our educational strategies from gap to outcomes, so our funding methodology usually follows this to ensure that we are meeting the needs of both internal and external stakeholders.
Question: My organization is small with limited staff, but we are providing great education and we could use some additional financial support. What is the most efficient way to start requesting commercial support or interacting with supporters?
I’m not sure there’s an “efficient” way to go about it; every supporter’s portal and requirements are different. They will all want to know whether or not the activity is accredited (and by whom), how much money you are seeking, a budget breakdown, a cover letter summarizing your request, a needs assessment, educational objectives and an outcomes plan. After that, much is dependent upon what the application portal asks for — and they are definitely not all the same! Also, make sure the supporter you’re approaching has an interest in your disease state; as a supporter, I’ve received many applications that had nothing to do with our therapeutic area. As our parents used to tell us, do your homework.
As for meeting supporters, attend in-person events like the Alliance Annual Conference, Alliance Industry Summit, InformaConnect and society conferences related to your disease state/area of interest. Those are the best places to meet potential supporters for your activity, because they’re likely to be in attendance.
In the spirit of transparency, I would recommend that you set up your educational activities so that they are not solely dependent upon grant support; many organizations are seeing budget cuts across all areas, including independent medical education. I know it can be frustrating to put a lot of work into an application and have it denied, but be prepared.
I wish you all the best with this process!
Outcomes. Showcase strong outcomes as up-front as possible in any submissions. Make sure your submission is tailored so that it is close in design and within or tangential to the disease area you are asking for support. Don't spend time trying to cold call or set up capabilities meetings. Most of us do not have extra time for this.
Each supporter has its own policies around interactions with educational providers and are limited on what information can be provided. If you are looking to obtain grant support, there are a number of resources available:
1. Look at supporters’ grant pages — some have guidance such as guidelines, budget templates, outcomes report expectations and other documentation.
2. Create an account in their grant portal. Even if you’re not ready to submit anything, you can see what their expectations are.
3. Attend sessions and workshops on grants and outcomes. There is no “perfect” way to write a grant proposal or prepare an outcomes report, but there are better ways.
4. Be prepared to tell your story of your education. How did you identify your gaps and needs? How do you intend to measure your learning objectives? Why did you choose your format? How will you assess your learners? How will you remain compliant with the accreditation criteria and standards, if applicable? Finally, how will you be fiscally responsible in spending your funding?
Look forward to the next installment of “Ask the Grantor,” coming soon. Did this article spark a grant-related question for you? Email your question to email@example.com, and it will be submitted to the Alliance volunteers for their consideration to be answered in an upcoming article.