Turning Practice Guidelines into Patient Health
What role can pharmaceutical marketers play in developing and disseminating CME and practice guidelines? Can they really change physician's prescribing behaviour? These were just some of the questions Dr. Jacqueline Cox McLaran, MD asked of pharmaceutical marketers and CME types at the May PMCQ meeting.
Physicians and the pharmaceutical industry are toiling in a common cause, whose bottom line is patient health, Dr. McLaran, Research Associate at McGill’s Center for Continuing Medical Education told the rapt audience. “There’s a great commonality. We’re all trying to change people’s behaviour,” she said.
She discussed how to get patients from “here” to “there” including the role of pharmaceutical marketers in developing practice guidelines and CME.
Dr. McLaren indicated that health professionals should develop practice guidelines, said Dr. McLaren. However, she added that guidelines needed to be taught, and preferably taught by educators. “How do we ensure that the guideline is acceptable to multiple health professionals so that they receive a common message?” Dr. McLaren challenged the audience. The true measure of practice guidelines is their impact on health outcomes, explained Dr. McLaren “Is the patient able to change his behaviour? Does the patient’s health get better?”
According to Dr. McLaren, physicians can learn a lot from pharmaceutical marketers about motivating behavioural change. “People in marketing, particularly the detail people, are the best motivational interviewers that there are.” Physicians also need to be aware of a patient’s willingness to change behaviour. Dr. McLaran discussed the stages of change from pre-contemplation (i.e. never considered changing behaviour) through setting a date to take some action, to “getting off” and “staying off” the unhealthy behaviour.
With respect to CME, Dr. McLaren predicted that the pharmaceutical industry would need to be a “partner”, not a “funder. “They have the educational tools. They know a lot more about motivational interviewing and behavioural change than clinicians do. I think we’re doing to see a lot more partnering in the future.”
By Jadzia Jagiellowicz
Jadzia Jagiellowicz is President of The Medanalyses Group Inc., providing medical writing & market research services to the pharmaceutical, medical and healthcare industries.