Trained pharmacists, nurses, and physicians (often called “clinical educators”) visit with health care professionals in their offices to discuss clinically appropriate therapeutic choices and patient care practices. Rather than promote particular products, clinical educators provide summaries of the evidence around a particular topic to help clinicians prescribe the safest, most effective medications for their patients. The clinical information is compiled from comparative effectiveness research that is designed to compare the effectiveness, benefits, and harms of different medical treatment options. This provides a convenient and effective way to stay current on the latest medical findings regarding the health issues primary care providers most commonly treat.
Educational modules used in academic detailing can focus on a specific drug, drug class, disease state, or non-drug therapies and diagnostics. To be successful, an academic detailing program should stem from an identified need for more clinician education and be designed for specific health care provider targets and their opinion leaders. Each educational module should be concise and have clear-cut objectives. To further promote behavior change, the clinical educators can provide repeat visits with participants to provide reinforcement of the module’s messages.
Although academic detailing programs typically focus on educating physicians, they can be tailored to deliver information to anyone in a medical practice, such as nurses, nurse practitioners, and physician assistants.