Friday, October 12, 2012

Reflections from the AMA Task Force on CME Collaboration #AMACME

For the past six years, I've been traveling to Baltimore to attend the Annual Conference of the National Task Force on CME Provider/Industry Collaboration. This year was the 23rd annual conference and it was the smallest one I have ever attended. There were roughly 200 or so attendees, so it was a very intimate conference. You can view some of the presentation slides here.

This year, I appreciated the focus around some real-world examples of quality improvement efforts that have led to measurable improvements in patient care. One example was around the Rhode Island ICU Collaborative where all the ICUs in the state collective came together to identify strategies to reduce certain types of infections (like CLASBI and VAP) in the intensive care setting. They established a collaborative approach, engaged administrative leaders, applied a rapid cycle continuous improvement approach, and accomplished some remarkable outcomes like an 84% reduction in CLASBI.

Given that health care is a business, many hospitals in the same region tend to be very competitive. They don't readily embrace a spirit of open collaboration. Rather, they utilize aggressive marketing tactics and "steal" doctors from other hospitals.

CME is an industry where organizations (even competitors) embrace collaboration. After all, we're all trying to improve patient care, aren't we?

This year, we also heard from Dr. Carolyn Clancy from AHRQ. She reminded s about the importance of population health management, health care quality improvement, and the role of CME and research to accomplish this. I sure hope that AHRQ doesn't lose its funding. The health IT explosion is now giving us access to a wealth of patient data that can lead to improved health outcomes once we know how to process all this information and utilize data analytics effectively.

We also had a great education session during our NAMEC meeting. NAMEC is the National Association of Medical Education Companies. This month, I begin my two-year term as the President of NAMEC. It's a great organization, but we face our challenges because of our shrinking membership. The past few years, our membership has been declining as CME companies either go out of business or choose to switch their business model to focus on promotional medical education and marketing.

Despite the challenges we all face, this is still a very exciting time to be working in the CME industry. We're seeing tremendous changes and  many organizations are struggling financially. CME budgets aren't growing rapidly, so we have to be creative to stretch the educational dollar. As CME continues to evolve, I'm excited to be involved in developing some new and innovative ways to educate health care professionals that will ultimately lead to better patient outcomes. We're exploring ways to leverage health IT, mobile health, data analytics, and other resources to improve the effectiveness of physician education that translates to better patient care. With that, I hope to see you in San Francisco for the Alliance meeting in Jan/Feb of 2013!

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