[Sponsored Views] Medical Education: Time for a New Approach in the Healthcare Industry

Continuing medical education plays a vital role in the ongoing training of healthcare professionals and improving patient outcomes. Furthermore, compliance changes and transparency rules have increased the importance of appropriate medical education, making it a critical component of the healthcare industry's business model.

Fortunately, a deeper understanding of the science behind learning has led to education innovation and the development of more distinctive methodologies based on active learning. This can lead to better knowledge retention and more efficient medical decision-making. An example of such innovation is the Duke-NUS Medical School cognitive science based learning methodology. FirstWord spoke to Professor Ranga Krishnan, Dean at Rush Medical Center, Chicago (previously of Duke-NUS1 Medical School, Singapore) about how their new medical education methodology is highly applicable to the healthcare industry.

Can you explain the theory behind the medical education methodology developed by Duke-NUS Medical School? 

Our unique methodology leverages cognitive science and elements of team-based learning, which is an evidence-based collaborative learning and teaching strategy. It differs from other methodologies since it is based on active learning methods. There are no passive lectures, and it is designed around customised learning modules that integrate into active live sessions with discussions and debates. Learners need to actively engage and listen to one another, which helps them crystalise ideas and enhance learning. This format also allows for the capture of valuable learning analytics.

How is this methodology better than traditional teaching and learning methods within healthcare?

Most learning within the healthcare industry is still delivered via a simple lecture model, such as symposia, congresses and peer-to-peer events. It is generally passive learning, which is known to result in short knowledge retention and is therefore ineffective. The typical adult attention span is only 6-10 minutes, so up to 80 percent of a 1-hour lecture would eventually be forgotten.

The healthcare industry could certainly benefit from exploring a science-led methodology based on active learning as a new paradigm in medical education, where understanding is nurtured for better long-term knowledge retention. This methodology leverages elements of cognitive science, promotes sustained learning, and increases retention – all of which are important to the healthcare industry.

What evidence exists for the effectiveness of this learning methodology? 

After the development and introduction of this new pedagogy at Duke-NUS in Singapore, we carefully measured academic outcomes to assess the effectiveness of the methodology. We noticed that Duke-NUS students generally scored higher than the US norm in various medical licensing exams. This was despite less class time due to the efficiency of the pedagogy. The feedback and outcomes were extremely positive, and elements of the same pedagogy are now also utilised at the Duke University School of Medicine and at Rush University, both in the US.

The healthcare industry is involved in medical education across multiple therapeutic areas and industry scenarios, so how could this learning methodology be implemented within the global healthcare industry?

This science-led learning methodology, with proven success in leading medical school environments, is a perfect fit for the science-led healthcare industry that is also involved in medical education. By adapting the model to the unique audiences relevant to the healthcare industry, it can be more effective in delivering important learning outcomes than current passive learning methodologies. Indeed, there is significant potential for this type of active learning in the healthcare industry. For example, it can be used as part of internal training for employees, such as the sales force, marketing and medical advisors. It can also be incorporated into medical programmes with external stakeholders such as practicing physicians, pharmacists and payers. Ultimately, it can be a part of overall workforce training and re-training, offering ongoing utility from the commencement of training to continued professional development.

Any therapeutic areas can be covered, since it is a methodology that can be customised based on learning needs. In this way, this learning methodology can support industry medical education needs across several scenarios, such as new launches, supporting reimbursement/formulary inclusion, improving disease awareness and diagnosis and increasing compliance.

Are any healthcare companies using this methodology?

Yes, it has been successfully implemented in the healthcare industry by an external licensee of Duke-NUS Medical School, where it has been demonstrated to be a true value driver for the learning needs of the healthcare industry.2 Several leading healthcare companies, including GlaxoSmithKline, Merck & Co., Pfizer and Takeda, have worked with this external licensee to deliver active learning programmes and achieve phenomenal outcomes across a variety of industry scenarios and therapeutic areas, as well as across geographies, languages, and with external and internal learners.

Validated analytics have been used to evaluate the learning outcomes. The average final knowledge assessment to date across these programs is 90 percent, and the average learning improvement versus before the programme is 42 percent. A specific example of the ultimate value achieved is a company gaining national reimbursement 2 months after multiple programme sessions involving external physicians, thereby increasing patient access and subsequently improving patient outcomes.

At the core of this model is recognition that medical education within the healthcare industry is more than just memorising facts; more importantly, healthcare professionals should critically examine facts and build creative thinking skills. Just as this methodology can help prepare medical students with the skillset needed outside of the classroom, it also has the potential to upskill those already working within the healthcare industry. The team-working and discussion skills inherent within this innovative methodology also have value to an industry where negotiation and collaboration are keys to success.

1 Duke-Nus Medical School is a joint venture between Duke University of U.S.A. and the National University of Singapore.

2 MEDNIVA, the global licensee of the patent-pending learning methods developed at Duke-NUS Medical School, have implemented the methodology within the healthcare industry.

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