U. W. Medicine

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Research (minus shelf life)
is made clinically useful

Waddell and Dr. Ciechanowski“Bench to bedside” describes the transformation of research into clinical practice. The phrase’s brevity, however, belies the sluggish pace of that metamorphosis – 17 years, on average, according to the Institute of Medicine.

Distressed to see fruits of promising studies left on the tree, UW Medicine research psychiatrist and self-described entrepreneur Paul Ciechanowski resolved to create a mechanism that would convert research results into actionable instruction for patient care.

The result: Training Xchange, a 3-year-old program that boldly promises to clinical-seminar attendees: “Come to our training on Thursday-Friday and on Monday you’ll be doing something different with your patients.”

The program has developed workshops and presented them to the national Epilepsy Foundation and the Riverside County (Calif.) Department of Mental Health, among others. In the works is a course to teach a novel surgical technique devised by Dr. Ben Starnes, a UW Medicine vascular specialist.

“If there’s some knowledge or skill to be learned, we have the vehicle to create the best adult learning materials and the marketing machine to get it to the appropriate end users,” Ciechanowski said.

Funnel sketchThe training program showed its hustle with CALM, a primary-care approach to treat anxiety disorders. UCLA and UW jointly developed the therapy based on evidence published in 2010. Just 14 months later, Training Xchange delivered a CALM workshop and implementation model to the Mayo Clinic.

Training Xchange is partly a byproduct of frustration Ciechanowski experienced during a decade of writing clinical research grants and conducting randomized trials. In that time he witnessed perhaps the main downside to academia’s publishing mandate.

“You are so busy that you have no bandwidth to get traction on results. You’re midstream in one grant and hustling to write the next two, especially in the current funding environment,” he said.

If only a service existed to turn research into trainings, with scalable delivery to accommodate potential audiences. Brainstorming in early 2009 with colleague Allison Waddell, he scrawled a business model on scrap paper. It depicted a funnel, with 1-2 hour programs at top, 1-2 day programs midway down and, at spout level, “full engagement” – onsite seminars at an organization’s facility, buttressed by conference calls.

Dr. SnowdenThe drawing, a model now realized, is displayed in Training Xchange’s office, where Waddell is program manager. The program found a home in UW’s Center for Commercialization, a development engine that helps researchers monetize innovations and protect intellectual property and product integrity.

Ciechanowski described the seminars his team produces as “clinic-ready.”

“We’re not in the business of data dump. It’s not, ‘Come to our presentation for a day and you’ll get so much valuable info.’ That’s the old paradigm. The new paradigm is, ‘We’re not going to give you only information but also skills.’ In fact, we are so focused on skills development that we want you to read the materials before you come to the training,” he said.

Valerie Curtis oversees training for Didi Hirsch Mental Health Services, a nonprofit that counsels more than 70,000 people a year across greater Los Angeles. She coordinated a two-day seminar by Training Xchange to introduce 40 caregivers to PEARLS, a depression-reduction intervention developed at the UW.

“We communicated our clinical needs and the trainers did a great job in familiarizing our staff with PEARLS. [Participants] enjoyed the training a great deal and became very excited to use the model,” she said.

To learn more about Training Xchange, call 206.685.9541.

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