Top challenges in CME?

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Floyd Pennington asks an interesting question in this post: Major Challenges that Confront Medical Education (including CME) over the Next Decade (and links to a really interesting post on challenges in medical education generally). His question:

If we were to develop a list of the 10 Challenges facing CME, what we would include beyond the issue of funding and pharma involvement?

It's hard to set that aside, because how CME is funded (or not funded) can have a huge effect on everything else. But if we can imagine a world where someone has come up with a perfect answer to paying for CME and pharma's role in it generally, some of the remaining challenges I see:

• Getting healthcare providers to be truly involved and engaged in the CME process. This means designing programs and activities that are truly involving and engaging, dare I even say fun? Wouldn't it be great if CME was considered to be an incentive for docs, not a punishment or a drudge -- and I don't mean because of the skiing or beachcombing to be had in the location. That the education itself was that exciting, interesting, and engaging that it is intrinsically rewarding to participate in beyond just increasing knowledge/skills.

I would like to never again have to hear from docs about what a waste of time CME is and how they only do it because they have to get their credits. If you can figure this out, you could make my wish come true (and, BTW, really move patient care forward). Think about computer games and what make them so engrossing, or a good book, or a religious meeting, or anything that really puts people in "the zone." Can any of that translate to CME?

• Another participation angle, but another challenge would be to get education that works for the entire team that treats the patient. And I mean entire team, from family members to surgical specialists to family physicians to nurses to anesthesiologists to social workers to the actual patient -- anyone and everyone who touches that patient in a way that affects his or her care. Just think of what each of these people brings to the table, and how much they could learn from each other just by being in the same room, even before you layer on actual structured learning.

• Along a similar vein, CME activities that address non-medical barriers to care that involve everyone causing the roadblock, be they hospital administrators, docs, insurance people, architects (hey, why not?), family members, whoever.

• Streamline/standardize as much of the process as possible. One example: When I saw my dermatologist earlier this month at Mass General (he is a fairly biggity wig when it comes to melanoma and a frequent speaker) he asked me to ask you -- no, I believe the word actually was "beg" -- to create a national database of speaker forms so they could just go in and update it periodically as needed, and all CME providers could pull their disclosures, etc., directly from the database instead of asking each faculty member to complete a new form for each and every activity they lead. At the very least, each organization could have its own database to minimize the work for frequent faculty.

• An easy way to measure outcomes that would fit seamlessly into the patient care process, not cause extra work, and actually be rewarding to participate in. Good luck with that.

I could go on and on (and I just may at another time), but I'd rather hear your thoughts. Comments are welcome below, or you can e-mail me any time.

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