MSLGroup describes accreditation changes

CHICAGO: The Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education is working with MSLGroup to promote changes in how the organization will accredit medical residency programs.

CHICAGO: The Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education is working with MSLGroup to promote major changes in how the organization will accredit medical residency programs.

Medical schools will soon have to ensure that residents and fellows demonstrate competency in six core areas, such as patient care, medical knowledge, and practice-based learning and improvement. The quality of training programs will also be monitored through an ongoing process, instead of the “snapshot in time” type of accreditation that now occurs, according to Rosemarie Fisher, director and associate dean at the Yale School of Medicine.

The organization will phase in these and other changes in 2013 and complete the implementation the year after. Its new system will cover more than 9,000 medical residency programs across the country.

“We're trying to improve the education model,” said John Nylen, CFO at the council. To promote the change to stakeholders, lawmakers, and the general public, the organization is working with MSLGroup. Their strategy is to avoid information overload for audiences by gradually releasing details about the transition process.

“This is a change that's going to take two or three years. We can't announce everything at once as it's very complex, and there are different areas of interest for different stakeholders,” Nylen said. “[MSLGroup] helped us in indentifying a timeline for releasing the information needed.”

The agency created a microsite that will serve as a digital hub for much of the campaign communications. It features video testimonials about the change from medical industry leaders, a frequently asked question section, and press releases.

The organization doesn't have plans to conduct outreach via social media such as Facebook and Twitter because many of its stakeholders skew older and don't use those tools, Nylen said.

MSLGroup is also handling media outreach, which has generated press in healthcare trade publications like Modern Healthcare. The firm has also distributed information to contacts on Capitol Hill.

Response to the transition from stakeholder groups has been guarded in recent weeks, said Nylen.

Medical professionals reached by PRWeek said they are pleased with both the transition and the way the council is promoting it.

“This is a fundamental change in the way we train and evaluate physicians,” said Patrick Brunett, associate professor and residency program director at Oregon Health & Science University School of Medicine.

He agreed that a centralized website is the best way to promote the transition and suggested webinars and newsletters as other outreach methods.

“The process will need to be interactive, inclusive, and user-friendly,” he said.

Richard Schwartzstein, VP for medical education at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston, suggested that the organization should maintain a strong presence at national professional society meetings. He said he hopes the group will eventually use Facebook and Twitter as communication points.

“Some of the senior leadership in the hospitals may be less likely to be reached in that mode,” Schwartzstein said. “But I think it would be good for the trainees to hear from other sources besides program directors that it's heading in this direction.”

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