Recent Survey Shows the Need for Education on the Differences Between BioSimilars

The North American for Continuing Medical Education, LLC (NACCME) recently announced the results of a survey of oncologists, rheumatologists, managed care professionals, pharmacists, and primary care learners. The study, conducted in April 2013, focused on awareness of and need for information on biosimilar agents, with results strongly supporting the need for comprehensive education on this topic. Over 400 health professionals participated in the survey, revealing:

  • More than half of respondents said their understanding of the differences between biosimilars versus generics was only fair to poor
  • Over 67% of survey participants indicated an understanding of the difference between biosimilars and reference biologics as fair or poor
  • 77% of respondents rated their understanding of regulatory approval pathway for biosimilars as fair or poor

“It is crucial to get an accurate view of how health professionals view biosimilars in order to assess and address the confusion surrounding this emerging and critical area of need,” said Randy Robbin, President of NACCME. “This survey helps demonstrate the need to provide activities that improve knowledge and address areas of practice like safety monitoring and therapy selection for biosimilars.”

Among other important findings, an overwhelming 97% of survey respondents felt that continuing education on biosimilars was at least somewhat important and three-quarters of those surveyed indicated biosimilars continuing education was important or very important to their practice. Click here to download the full survey report.

NACCME distributed the survey to health professionals through its various educational communities of practice: ConsultantCME, Coalition of Rheumatology Educators (CORE), Managed Care Learning Network, Oncology Learning Network, and Pharmacy Learning Network (PLN).

Customizing CME

In addition to this survey, a recent article in recognized that while providers are selecting less-expensive venues for live courses, offsetting conference costs with registration fees, and offering more webinars and fewer multiday conferences to reduce the costs of activities in like of shrinking grant funding, “providers can go a step further.” How? By assessing “the effectiveness of their collective activities based on multiple parameters,” writes Ann Lichti, CCEMP, the director of accreditation and compliance for Physicians’ Education Resource®, LLC (PER). When analyzing these results, we can begin asking targeted questions like:

  • Are certain formats more effective at improving knowledge vs. competence, performance, or patient or population health outcomes?
  • Are there differences in the way physicians learn relative to their clinical specialty or practice setting?
  • How many interventions are needed to facilitate changes in behavior?
  • What topics or faculty do clinicians gravitate toward?

By starting to identify these trends within our CME programs, providers can begin moving “toward a personalized education model that addresses the individual challenges faced by our learners. We can also eliminate ineffective formats and exclude topics that aren’t relevant to our learners by targeting our approach to CME initiatives.”

In addition, Lichti says that CME providers should be looking for opportunities to collaborate. “For example: A medical education/communication company and a local hospital could work together solely on audience generation. By establishing a reciprocal advertising arrangement with the hospital, the MECC could provide links (via the hospital’s intranet) to specific online CME activities. The MECC could communicate with the hospital’s continuing education department to identify ongoing quality improvement initiatives or other gaps/needs that are synergistic with those online activities. The local hospital, in return, “could agree to open its Regularly Scheduled Conference to selected clinicians from the MECC’s participant database who have an interest in those topics.”

These recommendations are particularly important, as the effect of sequestration will continue to affect various healthcare stakeholders, including CME providers. For example, another article from quoted Healthcare e-learning specialist Jeremy Lundberg, CEO, DLC Solutions and EthosCE LMS, who said that medical associations whose membership comprises a large percentage of federal employees “want his company’s help to move from live meetings to e-learning CME because of travel bans.” “They are having a big increase in registrant cancellations for spring meetings, which can be their primary source of annual revenue. Sequestration named as the primary driver.”

John JD Juchniewicz, MCIS, CCMEP, president of the American Academy of CME, Inc., agrees. “Government travel is definitely being affected,” he says. “So if you conduct live CE-certified events with federal [healthcare professional] attendees, you’re likely seeing an impact.”

Medical congresses with a high concentration of international attendees may also find their global guests facing longer wait times to get through customs and immigration. As Napolitano said recently, you can expect longer wait times at customs and immigration, as well as at Transportation Security Administration security checkpoints, as overtime, a hiring freeze, and furloughs go into effect at TSA and U.S. Customs and Border Protection.

With respect to grant budgets, while some predict that the sequester may not impact CME much, Bill Bresser, marketing director at the Medical Technology Management Institute, said that “While the percentage of dollars due to be cut is proportionally small, I think the effect will be a decrease in support for CME; it being one of the first line items to be cut from the budget.”

Additionally, while researchers and investigators will certainly suffer from budget and spending cuts, Lundberg said that healthcare providers in general, and their patients will suffer as well. “I think the real tragedy of sequestration is threefold: HCPs will be blocked from educational opportunities to advance their clinical skills, medical specialty associations will have to curb CME opportunities or potentially close their doors, and, ultimately, the quality of patient care will not evolve and suffer.”

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