Reaching across the aisle

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Politicians could learn a lot from how the CME community collaborates.

While I have pretty much nothing in common with Paul Newman’s character in the 1967 film Cool Hand Luke, we do tend to agree on one thing: “What we’ve got here is a failure to communicate.” I see it already in our presidential election process, which, whatever side of the fence you’re on, is becoming increasingly uncivil, mean-spirited, truth-bending, and downright nasty—and we still have a way to go before Election Day. I’m just hoping that, to quote singer and leader of Parrothead Nation Jimmy Buffett, in our post-election world, we find ways to “decorate or climb or find some ways to get around” the walls that won’t come down. Yes, the walls are high—particularly when it comes to how to reform the U.S. healthcare system—but the stakes are even higher.

In the continuing medical education community, we talk a lot about collaboration. We even have a conference every fall, the meeting of the National Task Force on CME Provider/Industry Collaboration, focused specifically on how we can better work together to improve medical education, physician and other healthcare provider behavior, and ultimately, patient health. And collaborate we do.

One case in point is a recent project launched by the MedBiquitous Consortium, a not-for-profit international group of professional medical and healthcare associations, universities, and commercial and governmental organizations dedicated to advancing healthcare education through technology standards that promote professional competence, collaboration, and better patient care. Called MEMS 2.0, the project aims to provide a streamlined, efficient, and effective system for collecting data about continuing healthcare education provided in accordance with the FDA’s extended-release and long-acting opioid analgesics Risk Evaluation and Mitigation Strategy. MEMS 2.0 will enable CE providers to send data to their accreditors about REMS-related CE. Accreditors can then send data to a central database in a common format, allowing the FDA and REMS Program Companies to get a sense of the broad picture of REMS CE across multiple professions.

Accreditors from across the healthcare system—from the Accreditation Council for CME to the American Nurses Credentialing Center and the Accreditation Council for Pharmacy Education—are getting behind the project. In a statement, the Alliance for Continuing Education in the Health Professions also hailed MEMS 2.0, saying, “CE providers planning to seek [REMS Program Company] grants are strongly encouraged to employ the MEMS 2.0 standards as soon as they are available.”

This is just the latest in a long list of collaborative efforts this community undertakes. Just look at the CME providers who are willing to share with competitors the details of what they are doing to help change physician behavior and practice, and, as is the case in this issue’s cover story, how they are reaching out to new types of partners to provide desperately needed education and guidance to those who care for those who risk their lives for their country. Somehow, you all manage to reach across the aisle and even out of the ballpark altogether to get the important work done.

Is it too much to think that, just maybe, this community, while not perfect, can be an example of how those whose interests may not align in the details can work together to reach the ultimate goals we all seek?

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