Research into networking and interactivity among practitioners is providing new information that has the potential to enhance the effectiveness of practice improvement initiatives. This commentary reviews the evidence that practitioner interactivity can facilitate emergent learning and behavior change that lead to practice improvements. Insights from learning theories provide a framework for understanding emergent learning as the product of interactions between individuals in trusted relationships, such as occurs in communities of practice. This framework helps explain why some groups respond more favorably to improvement initiatives than others. Failure to take advantage of practitioner interactivity may explain in part the disappointingly low mean rates of practice improvement reported in studies of the effectiveness of practice improvement projects. Examples of improvement models in primary care settings that explicitly use relationship building and facilitation techniques to enhance practitioner interactivity are provided. Ingredients of a curriculum to teach relationship building in communities of practice and facilitation skills to enhance learning in small group education sessions are explored. Sufficient evidence exists to support the roles of relationships and interactivity in practice improvement initiatives such that we recommend the development of training programs to teach these skills to CME providers.
Copyright © 2011 The Alliance for Continuing Medical Education, the Society for Academic Continuing Medical Education, and the Council on CME, Association for Hospital Medical Education.