"The research will help improve medical education."

Joslin Diabetes Center, Phytel launch CME research project

By Mike Miliard
10:47 AM

Harvard's Joslin Diabetes Center and Dallas-based Phytel, which develops technologies focused on population health, have announced they will collaborate to study the accuracy and predictive value of current assessment methods for continuing medical education (CME) programs. 

Seeking to inform ongoing efforts to improve diabetes care, officials of the two groups say the study will compare four methods of evaluating educational outcomes in diabetes care: physician self-reports, competency assessments based on case studies, examination of a sample of patient charts, and data drawn from Phytel clients' electronic registries, which cover all of a practice's patients with diabetes. The study is slated to start in April or May and be completed by the end of the year.

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Joslin officials say the center chose Phytel as a partner for the study because the company's large customer base offers population-wide data. Hundreds of physician groups and healthcare systems that collectively care for more than 20 million patients use Phytel's patient outreach, care management, patient engagement, transitions of care and analytics solutions in population health management.

"Joslin's grant requires our researchers to explore the most effective methods of verifying outcomes of educational interventions to further the adoption of best practices in diabetes care," noted Julie Brown, director of professional education at Joslin Diabetes Center. "Phytel's expertise in population health management and its comprehensive database will enable Joslin to make valid comparisons among different methods of assessing performance and patient level outcomes relative to educational and non-educational interventions."

Steve Schelhammer, CEO of Phytel, noted that "the research will help improve medical education and will supply a firmer basis for evaluating care team performance. Phytel customers that participate in this research will benefit in part through their front line involvement in an innovative effort for measuring improvement in diabetes care."

[See also: Phytel launches new care management platform .]

"Today's CME is much more about quality and continuous quality improvement than it is about lectures and tests," added Brown. "And Joslin's program is completely performance focused. We view CME as a tool for everyday practice, not just something you need to 'go get.'"

Through this research, which is funded through independent medical education grants provided by GlaxoSmithKline, Pfizer, and Lilly & Co., Brown hopes for "groundbreaking" progress with regard to "accurately assessing outcomes in a scalable, efficient manner that is beneficial to all stakeholders."