The Board of Trustees of the Leland Stanford Junior University

Enhancing Quality of Life and Life Expectancy Through Continuing Education

Medical education

Stanford University seeks to solve critical health problems and effect important improvements in population health through an innovative, nationwide platform to educate practicing healthcare providers.

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Lead Organization

The Board of Trustees of the Leland Stanford Junior University

Palo Alto, California, United States

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To learn more about – or provide significant funding to – this project, please contact Lever for Change.

Project Summary

Life expectancy in the United States has steadily declined over the last three years. The latest peer-reviewed and evidence-based consensus has exposed disparate impacts on life expectancy and other population health outcomes based on race and socioeconomic determinants of health. Continuing medical education (CME) has lacked the capacity to ameliorate either these determinants or their negative outcomes. Stanford University proposes a nationwide call to action to provide transformative training to healthcare professionals and thereby improve the inequitable landscape. Stanford’s solution is designed to address critical practice gaps to improve the way care is delivered. By pioneering the creation of drastically superior CME and the pathways to its dissemination, the solution can and will be leveraged by healthcare professionals to reverse the downward trend of life expectancy and population health outcomes, and ultimately to remove seemingly intractable impediments to equitable and effective delivery of care in the United States.

Problem Statement

In the United States, healthcare providers and their patients face the same fundamental challenge. Year after year, all members of our society – patients, families, health professionals, the government – must devote a relentlessly increasing share of resources to “healthcare,” with ever diminishing returns on the disproportionately costly investment. The problems described in Stanford’s proposal – the decline in life expectancies and in overall quality of health and well-being of many U.S. populations – have come to seem inevitable, or the best that can be hoped for given a confusing disarray of systemic, societal, and behavioral determinants of health. These problems do not exist in an information vacuum, nor due to a lack of knowledge. Scientific and medical discoveries proceed apace, but when they are not effectively translated into healthcare practice and patients’ lives, it is as though they never occurred, in the sense of the negligible impact they have on the health outcomes of the populations who paid so dearly for the innovation.Because knowledge and information are necessary but not currently sufficient to achieve the desired improvements in population health outcomes, a key leverage point must be the transformation from “knowing” to “doing.” Intentional and data-driven changes in the designs, formats, and modalities by which awareness of evidence is translated through educational interventions into evidence-based practice, have aggregate and scalable value for each ensuing clinical interaction or iteration. Increasing the value of continuing education for health care learners can bring about the desired outcomes for populations.

Solution Overview

Stanford believes education is the foundation for solving the world’s greatest problems. Stanford proposes to reshape the paradigm of continuing medical education (CME), and thereby transform the delivery of care. Patient- and population-health outcomes will be drastically improved when CME providers are equipped to deliver educational content that is more rigorous, relevant and responsive to the greatest health challenges facing American society and communities. Stanford’s solution will empower stakeholders to participate collaboratively as trainers and learners in the development of data-driven and evidence-based educational interventions. Currently, the CME archetype largely consists of education developed in silos of information, lagging in innovation, and insufficiently connected to the most critical gaps in provider knowledge. By contrast, this solution enlists stakeholders such as state departments of health, academic health centers, and community-based and regional educators and health professionals to participate more meaningfully in the design and dissemination of innovative training aimed beyond incrementally surpassing the status quo. To maximize the value and impact of CME, Stanford’s solution will drive the development of educational interventions that can intentionally and skillfully deliver higher learning outcomes, i.e., affirmatively producing change in health practitioner behaviors and continually engendering practice improvement. When the enlisted regional stakeholders then champion the project and help expand its reach, state-of-the-art educational activities and modules – such as templates, toolkits, train-the-trainer activities, and direct training – can in turn generate positive movement toward better patient- and population-level health outcomes.

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