Background: In 2006, the Greater Northwest Healthcare Provider Council (HPC) of the National Multiple Sclerosis Society (NMSS) identified a need for professional education focused on clinical care of MS patients that is low-cost, high-yield, accredited and geared towards the non-specialist. As a result, the MS Summit professional education program was created and has been running for 15 years providing practical information and guidance to neurologists and other healthcare professionals treating MS and providing 6.5 CEUs.
MS is a complex, chronic, progressive neurological condition and has a particularly high prevalence in the Pacific Northwest (PNW). Due to geographic set up, access to specialized MS Centers can be limited for many patients in this region. Management of MS is challenging with regard to control of disease activity as well as management of symptoms which interfere with quality of life, social roles or interpersonal relationships. MS is also a rapidly developing field with many new treatments becoming available every year.
Objectives: The MS Summit was designed with the goal to increase knowledge in health care providers regarding basic underlying concepts as well as symptom management for MS with the ultimate goal to optimize patient management and outcome.
Methods: The HPC brought together a group of local MS specialists to discuss the needs of the greater provider community treating MS patients. The HPC acknowledged that most MS patients are not being treated by a specialist. Given the rapid changes in MS diagnosis, treatment methods and medications, providers who do not specialize in the field of MS would benefit from an annual conference focused specifically on MS care. The conference would provide the latest information on MS medications and symptom management strategies, address controversies in MS care, review current research updates, demonstrate teachings through case presentations, and offer an opportunity to network with MS specialists.
Results: Each year the MS Summit attracts over 100 healthcare professionals. From the 2020 MS Summit participant evaluations, over 80% of participants planned to change their practice or behavior as a result of participating in the program. Over 76% strongly agreed that the Summit improved their knowledge of MS care, and nearly 69% strongly agreed that the Summit improved their attitude towards caring for MS patients. Nearly 95% felt that the speakers were above average, and 95% strongly agreed that they would refer a friend or a colleague to the NMSS. Many participants do not attend other MS conferences. Over the years, the MS Summit has strengthened communication between MS specialists and other providers in the region, an important aspect of improving the care of people with MS.
Conclusions: The MS Summit is an effective method for delivering specialized education to providers across the PNW who are treating MS, thus resulting in improved access to high quality MS care for the MS patient.