Friday, October 16, 2009

The evolving world of CME

I was reminded this morning during our AMA - National Task Force on CME Provider/Industry Collaboration conference, that the world of CME (continuing medical education) is evolving. I'm not an evolutionist, but I understand the theories of evolution. I may not agree with them, but that's for another discussion.

The world of CME is evolving and we are seeing some significant changes in this industry (yes, the CME enterprise is its own industry). Over the past year, several CME companies have gone out of business.  Others are currently preparing to close their doors. The environmental pressures are significantly impacting how different stakeholders are reacting to the CME industry and we've heard many discussions focusing on the topic of industry-supported CME. Many individuals have left the CME industry and others are probably seriously entertaining the possibility of a career change.

How will the model of industry-supported CME evolve over time?
  • Will industry support disappear? (I don't think it will, but I'm not a fortune teller)
  • Will industry support get funneled into a "pooled fund" that gets distributed by an independent organization? (I don't personally think this idea will work)
  • Will we changes in the types of CME activities? (yes, I believe we've already seen changes and we will continue to see changes)
  • How will people view industry-supported CME? Will they see CME as a way to help physicians improve patient care?
  • What types of patient-level outcomes can we realistically measure through CME activities?
Because of industry-supported Internet-based CME activities, physicians have more access to free medical education than ever before. We've seen a tremendous growth of online CME activities over the past few years and this growth will continue as more physicians rely on their computers for medical information.

I work in the CME industry and I plan to stay in this industry because I firmly believe that certified CME leads to improvements in patient care. I see a combination of challenges and opportunities in the evolving world of CME and I am optimistic that the opportunities will be greater than the challenges.

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