To strive for success, MA professionals are advised to keep the end goal in mind, thereby following a “backward planning” strategy. The final ideal state is identified first, then potential knowledge and competency gaps are identified, and finally, budget is allocated to a grantmaking strategy. MA professionals must also take into account the therapeutic landscape and other compounds/products in the specified area of interest.
Unsolicited independent medical education grants have historically utilized a reactive transaction where companies accept unsolicited proposals from accredited providers. MA professionals have had to change their approach to be able to proactively influence the healthcare landscape across a broad spectrum of stakeholders’ perspectives. Supporting needs assessment projects and extensive information-gathering must be used first to inform an effective independent medical education strategy, whether grants are submitted spontaneously or in response to a CGA or RFP.
COMPANY-LED MEDICAL EDUCATION
Company-led medical education is another widely used form of external medical education. These activities are organized by individual pharmaceutical companies and might involve scientific committees, and/or independent scientific and professional organizations. Examples include scientific symposia, patient educational programs, company-sponsored meetings, and educational websites, among others.
Like independent medical education, company-led education is bound to the highest standards for quality, transparency and ethics in medical learning. Content must be relevant, credible, and timely, addressing educational gaps through a sound instructional design and outcome measure plan.
Regulatory agencies have diverse views on the classification of medical education developed by the pharmaceutical/biotech/device industry. Medical education and educational materials are rarely defined by their intent, but by the originator or the supporter. In this regard, industry-developed education/educational materials are considered promotional in many markets regardless of their nature and the internal function that develops them.
Medical education may play a role in influencing the market growth of therapeutics by increasing the awareness of disease states, treatments, and changing guidelines. However, the overall intent of medical education must not be to promote company products, devices, or solutions, but to improve HCPs’ knowledge of relevant data and integrate this into clinical competencies and skills which optimize patient outcomes.
It is important to note that various functions within the industry develop educational materials and scientific programs. While the medical education developed by the MA function does so in a scientific, non-promotional manner, there are components of education regularly developed or used by industry’s commercial function to complement their solutions with a primary intent to increase market share and sales of a product.
Legal and compliance implications in defining and implementing company-led education are extensive and are not addressed in this article. The MAPS Focus Area Working Group (FAWG) on External Education will be addressing these topics in an upcoming Standards and Guidance document and future e-Learning modules.