Understanding what constitutes a professional practice gap is one of the fundamental building blocks of accreditation for medical education, but even more so, identifying and describing a professional practice gap correctly may be the more difficult task. Professional practice gaps, according to ACCME are measured in terms of:
- Knowledge (don’t know something).
- Strategy (don’t know how to do something).
- Performance (not doing something, although the root may be a lack of knowledge or strategy).
- Patient Outcomes (the consequences of performance).
It is important to remember that the focus of researching a practice gap is always on the patient outcome. A simple lack of knowledge on the part of a practitioner does not constitute a practice gap. The real question is, what if the effect of that lack of knowledge on the patient outcome that is important.
For example, several years ago PeerPoint conducted a Quality Improvement initiative for Osteoporosis. Studies had shown that the disease was frequently diagnosed only after a fracture had occurred. Research revealed that the practitioners were not clear on several aspects of Osteoporosis, including who to screen and how to screen, as well as what the best treatment options were.
In order to create a program that would improve patient outcomes in the population most at risk for Osteoporosis, the professional practice gaps mentioned above, we had to determine how to address a knowledge gap (who and best treatment options) as well as a strategy gap (how to screen).
A closing question for comments: in your experience, what techniques have you used to identify practice gaps?
CEO PeerPoint Medical Education Institute
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