Jonasson Lecturer’s call to action: Let COVID-19 be a disruptive moment in professional development

Caprice Greenberg, MD, MPH, FACS
Caprice Greenberg, MD, MPH, FACS

“One of the advantages of moving our professional meetings to a virtual setting is this increased penetrance, this increased ability to reach people,” said Caprice Greenberg, MD, MPH, FACS, the 2020 Olga M. Jonasson Lecturer, during her presentation delivered Tuesday, October 6. “I think moving online and the ways we’ve done it is incredibly innovative—but I want to talk to you about moving from innovation to disruption,” said Dr. Greenberg, professor of surgery and Morgridge Distinguished Chair in Health Services Research, division of surgical oncology, University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health, Madison.

Dr. Greenberg’s lecture, Never Let a Good Crisis Go to Waste: Continuous Professional Development and COVID-19, identified technology-based opportunities for engaging in lifelong learning—similar to the evolution of telehealth during the pandemic.

Prior to the pandemic, there was evidence to support telehealth as an effective way to deliver health care, noted Dr. Greenberg, but according to a 2020 survey of hospital CEOS, only 38 percent had a digital component as part of their strategic plan. “There was little incentive in our current payment structure to  think about telehealth because in-person visits were reimbursed at a much higher rate. Furthermore, there were really complex data protection and privacy regulations around HIPAA and HITECH that prevented us from introducing telehealth in a meaningful way.”

Once payment and regulatory changes were implemented, “all of a sudden hospitals were able to operationalize telehealth capacity at an unprecedented rate,” Dr. Greenberg said. “I think we all are now doing a large number of our visits by telehealth, and this has been an incredibly disruptive innovation and has probably moved us forward 10 years compared with what would have happened had we not had this pandemic.”

Her goal with the Jonasson Lecture is to convince listeners that COVID-19 presents a unique opportunity for a similar technology disruption when it comes to continuous professional development, she said, noting that challenges to engaging in lifelong learning during the pandemic include institutional limits on spending, travel bans, and limits on large gatherings.

“This is a pivotal moment where we can have a technology disruption when it comes to continuous professional development and move to much more meaningful activities to fulfill our requirements,” Dr. Greenberg said, highlighting the benefits of video-based platforms that allow for the capture and sharing of information such as Operating Room Black Box.

Innovative training formats must be explored and are encouraged by the American Board of Medical Specialties (ABMS) Statement on Vision for the Future, she added. Professional societies already have used virtual meetings to reach significantly wider audiences amid pandemic travel and other restrictions that prevent large annual in-person meetings from taking place in their traditional formats.

She also pointed to benefits of other video-based professional development activities including performance assessment and coaching. In regard to video coaching, which can include peer-to-peer and expert coaching, Dr. Greenberg summarized the mission of the of The Academy for Surgical Coaching, which is to empower surgeons through surgical coaching to improve clinical performance, well-being, and patient care.

Dr. Greenberg also described the role of surgical quality collaboratives, including the American College of Surgeons National Quality Improvement Program, in supporting professional development by providing the following: benchmarked performance reports, regular meetings that allow individuals to review data and identify areas for improvement, site visits with practice coaching, and implementation of tools and resources.

“There are new tools being developed every day,” Dr. Greenberg said. “It is up to us to figure out how to use them in a meaningful way. I want to challenge each of you to make sure that this crisis, which has been incredibly difficult for all of us, can potentially lead to a disruptive moment for us when it comes to continuous professional development.”

The lecture will be available for on-demand viewing through the virtual Clinical Congress meeting platform through December 31.