Monday, September 20, 2010

Martin Samuels launches Lighthouse Learning and the spin cycle begins

Martin Samuels is helping start a new CME company. That fact by itself is interesting enough. Samuels is more than a popular speaker; he's one of medicine's great teachers.

But because Lighthouse Learning intends to provide its content without any support from the pharmaceutical industry Daniel Carlat has taken an opportunity to apply a bit of spin : Harvard's Top Neurologist Just Says “No” to Commercial CME. In his post Carlat talks around the issue a great deal but seems to imply the Samuels, former medical director of a provider of industry supported CME, has had some sort of an epiphany and joined the ranks of the pharmascolds although there's no direct evidence that it's true. Samuels, for example, is on the editorial board and serves as a frequent host for the industry supported medical education provider ReachMD. If he's had such an epiphany you'd expect him to resign from that company but he hasn't, at least not yet, because he's hosting a program there today.

Meanwhile the Boston Globe has covered it here, Medical Marketing and Media here and Thomas Sullivan here. The Medical Marketing and Media post quotes Samuels' partner in the new enterprise, Joe Leibowitz:

“We believe there is a good degree of cynicism in the marketplace and that it's time for the presentation of a new fresh model, one that is free from commercial and industry support,” Jon Leibowitz, president and CEO of the new organization, told MM&M.

If the quote is accurate it's an extreme example of an argumentum ad populum (extreme because cynicism, as opposed to skepticism, seeks to knock things down without regard to facts). But the assumptions here regarding popular belief may not be accurate. For example, the Globe quotes Samuels as saying that doctors have lost confidence in supported CME.

Although that's widely believed in some circles, research evidence overwhelmingly says the opposite.

Dr. Carlat thinks he understands Samuels' motives in starting Lighthouse Learning (well, he is a psychiatrist) and offers his interpretation. But maybe Samuels just thinks that if docs have lost confidence in supported CME they'll go for his product. For-pay CME can be a profitable enterprise. Just ask the folks at UptoDate.

I'm anxious to see what Lighthouse Learning will offer. With Samuels behind it I know it'll be good. He seems to be assembling an all star cast, so it will probably be very expensive. One of the non-evidence based but very popular beliefs in the CME funding debate is that for some lofty reason doctors “should” pay for their own CME.

When it comes to non-industry supported offerings, if they're any good at all, you pay a lot. Again, just look at UptoDate. Because most doctors have to be mindful of their budgets (as do the medical groups that provide their CME stipends) therein lies an unintended consequence: if industry support goes away entirely, doctors' CME choices will be limited.

No comments: