New MECC launches with policy of "no commercial support"

It was a little shocking to see this story on the launch of a new medical education company on the front page of today's Boston Globe. I'm trying to schedule an interview now with the person behind the launch -- Martin Samuels, MD, a neurologist with Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston and formerly a medical director with M/C Communications, according to the Globe. The front-page-worthiness appears to stem from this company, called Lighthouse Learning, taking commercial support out of its business model. According to the Globe:

"The work will be paid for by the sale of the curriculum to hospitals, medical societies, insurance companies, and other organizations that provide professional education to doctors, said Samuels, who is Lighthouse’s director of medical education. While prices have not been set, the founders say organizations will eventually pay more because they will want to say the education they provide is free of industry influence, and rules will increasingly require that."

While their faculty and curriculum directors don't have to be entirely free of relationships with industry -- something they seem to acknowledge would knock the top folks off their list -- those relationships do have to be "limited and disclosed."

I wish the article had at least included a mention of recent studies like this one that indicate that the commercial support of CME activities actually doesn't result in the appearance of bias, along with Samuels' assertion that "Just paying for general courses on migraines, or Lyme disease, helps persuade doctors to intervene with treatment for more patients."

Anyway, I look forward to learning more about what caused these folks to jump in with a new MECC when the trend seems to be more on the exodus side. If you have any questions you want answered around this, drop me an e-mail and I'll add them to my list (or if you would like to make a comment of your own about this topic, I'd love to hear that, too).

Update: Here's my writeup of the company launch after a discussion with Dr. Samuels. There has been a pretty interesting discussion around this on the CME LinkedIn group as well. And of course, some commentary from The Carlat Psychiatry Blog (don't miss the comments) and, in the other corner, from Policy and Medicine.

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