The Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) Academy is dedicated to development and delivery of the highest quality, independent and trust-worthy continuing medical education curriculum in the field.
INDUSTRY SUPPORT OF PROVIDER EDUCATION PROGRAMS
The Academy recognizes and acknowledges the commitment of its foundation and individual donors and the dedication they share in providing the highest standard of educational activities to enhance clinical care.
In addition to the generous philanthropic donations received, educational grants from pharmaceutical, biotech and sometimes medical device companies provide a supplementary funding stream for the Academy’s continuing medical education (CME) activities. Depending upon the target audience, identified learning gaps and educational needs, each program is designed to provide learners with an innovative learning experience that serves to enhance their knowledge and acquisition of information at the highest level. Activities include a mix of live and online components.
An education grant provides partial funding for each phase of the activity from program design and implementation to evaluation, outcomes analysis and dissemination of the results. While some Academy programs are tuition-based, there are many that are free of charge. Education grants enable the Academy to offer tuition-free activities, affording healthcare providers around the world the opportunity to participate in a continuing medical education program regardless of their financial situation.
PARTNERS HEALTHCARE OFFICE FOR INTERACTIONS WITH INDUSTRY (OII)
Support from industry to hospital education programs is important to the sustainability of these same programs and is welcomed. Because of the perception that industry-supported programs have the potential to be influenced by company interests, attention to industry-supported programs is increasing. Realizing the importance of industry funding to the viability of hospital education programs and in response to new state and federal guidelines, the Partners HealthCare System’s Office for Interactions with Industry was formed to assure continued integrity of programs that receive industry funding.
THE ROLE OF THE PARTNERS HEALTHCARE EDUCATION REVIEW BOARD
The Partners HealthCare Education Review Board (ERB) is responsible for reviewing educational grants from industry that were designated to support a specific hospital education initiative. This 17-member board includes representatives from clinical, scientific, education, and patient advocacy communities who have a broad background in medical education. The ERB meets monthly and all industry support for hospital educational programs must be approved by the ERB.
Guidelines for education programs and activities that receive industry support include:
- A rigorous process to screen potential conflicts of interest and monitor content of programs.
- Ensuring budgets and books of record are auditable by supporters and any funds not applied to the agreed MGH Academy activities are returned to the supporter.
- Industry-supported educational programs must receive support from more than one company.
INTEGRITY OF HOSPITAL EDUCATION PROGRAMS
As a large academic medical center, faculty members of hospital education programs may have separate relationships with industry either through institutional or individual consulting arrangements, participation in sponsored clinical trials, etc. To ensure independence, all Accredited Academy curricula and the development of its content must adhere to the Accreditation Council for Continuing Medical Education Standards for Commercial Support (ACCME), federal and state guidelines and any additional requirements set forth by the hospital and the highly-regarded accredited providers of the programs with whom we work.
ADHEREING TO THE ACCREDITATION COUNCIL FOR CONTINUING MEDICAL EDUCATION STANDARDS FOR COMMERCIAL SUPPORT (ACCME)
Among the guidelines of the ACCME are the following:
- Independence: All Academy programs are designed free of the control of a commercial interest. This includes identification of needs, determination of learning objectives, design of content, selection of the best educational methods and program evaluation. A provider cannot be required by a commercial supporter to accept advice or services including content from a commercial interest as a condition of receiving funding.
- Resolution of Personal Conflicts of Interest: Everyone who is in a position to control the content of an Academy education activity, including faculty, must disclose all relevant financial relationships with any commercial interest to the accredited provider of the program. A relevant financial relationship is defined as a financial relationship with a company in any amount occurring within the past 12 months that creates a conflict of interest. Each accredited provider has a mechanism in place to identify and resolve all conflicts of interest prior to the activity being delivered to learners.
- Disclosure of Relevant Financial Relationships: All individuals must disclose any relevant financial relationship they may have to learners; if an individual has no relevant financial interest(s) then the learners must be informed that no relevant financial relationship exists. All faculty disclosures are reviewed and evaluated in detail by the accreditation staff and are subject to the accredited provider’s resolution of conflict guidelines.
- Disclosure of Industry Support: The source of all support for the Academy activity is always disclosed to learners and never includes the use of a trade name or product group message.
- Appropriate Use of Commercial Support: All commercial support associated with an accredited Academy activity must be given with the full knowledge and approval of the accredited provider and decisions regarding the disposition and disbursement of commercial support must be made by the Provider. All expenditures must be documented including honoraria paid to faculty, committee members, joint sponsors or others involved with the activity. Excess funds not applied to the agreed Academy objective must be returned to supporters;
- A written agreement documenting the terms of support is in place prior to the start of the activity. Product-promotion material in any format and exhibits are prohibited at all Academy programs.
- Content and format of the program must promote improvements or quality in healthcare and not a proprietary interest of a commercial supporter.
- Anyone in the position to control the content of an activity must not sit on the MGH formulary committee of a commercial supporter.
At the close of each program participants are asked to evaluate the Academy program for the appearance and reality of integrity and independence. The data compiled is used to change and enhance the Academy approach from cycle-to -cycle.
The Academy and its accredited providers devote significant resources to ensure the independence and integrity of program content so that the hospital will be able to sustain and grow the Academy’s program plan with partial support from industry. The hospital continues to enhance safeguards applicable to the hospital. This summary of safeguards will be updated as these approaches evolve and change and welcomes industry support.