Continuing Education is Key to Sustained Quality Improvement in Health Care 

Our education initiatives have yielded notable results for providers and payers—that’s why we've expanded our offerings to drive greater change for our clients

August 29, 2019

Continuing education is central to addressing the greatest challenge public and private payers, health systems, and provider practices face at this moment: improving quality while lowering costs. That's why we recently launched a nationally accredited continuing education initiative that offers MOC Part IV programs that not only lead to system-wide change, but also provide credits recognized by the American Board of Medical Specialties and other accreditation bodies.

This work began five years ago when we developed a continuing health care education program with funding from the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services to improve oral health of low-income children. We created with our partners an educational initiative offering CME and MOC Part IV credit—known as SmileConnect—that provided in-depth training to primary care providers on how to conduct oral health screenings and dental referrals for children covered by Medicaid or CHIP.

The training was much more than an on-demand webinar where clinicians log in and watch a one-hour video. Those have their place, to be sure. But we were aiming for system-wide transformation, so we created an in-depth program that would engage all clinical staff in a meaningful way, employing the Plan-Do-Study-Act method with technical assistance from certified trainers and quality improvement advisors who work closely with the entire care team.

The results of the program were notable: after training primary care providers throughout Michigan, we saw a 70 to 90 percent increase in the provision of preventive oral health services for very young children.

Since that early success, we've developed in-depth continuing health care education programs to address additional issues, including responsible opioid prescribing, depression screening, medication adherence, and complex trauma. In each case, we've seen measurable results that are sustained not just in the days or weeks after the training, but over the long term.

As we expand this program, we will leverage it to improve outcomes of vulnerable and publicly insured populations. The time has never been more important for this effort as the share of health sector spending continues to grow; consumers are asked to shoulder more of the costs; and as the country faces various public health challenges, from the opioid crisis to a growing elder population.

These challenges are great, but we have the tools, the expertise, and the people to make a difference. Read more about our nationally accredited continuing education program and our off-the-shelf and customized offerings.

Altarum is a nonprofit organization that works with federal and state agencies and foundations to design and implement solutions to improve the health of individuals with fewer financial resources and populations disenfranchised by the health care system. We achieve measurable results by combining our expertise in public health and health care delivery with technology, workforce training and continuing education, applied research, and technical assistance. Our innovative solutions lead to better health for beneficiaries and better value for payers.