What is in this article?:
Since it was created in 2009, the Industry Alliance for Continuing Education and Medical Specialty Society Collaborative Workgroup of the Alliance for Continuing Education in the Healthcare Professions was created to improve communications between two sections of theindustry that are usually kept separate. Rules and regulations put in place to protect each side had inadvertently created an adversarial landscape. Commercial supporters were afraid to engage with CME providers, and many CME planners were never quite sure when it was acceptable to discuss something with a commercial interest. Thankfully, both sides were eager to restore dialogue.
But the emphasis on improving communications faded quickly. It wasn’t necessary. Each group had been eager to establish an avenue to discuss topics with the other; it didn’t take much to get the groups talking.
From there, “what do we talk about?” became “what should we work on?” One topic that rose to the top was satellite symposia. Here's what the group has come up with so far.
Unexpected Insights in Stakeholder Data
For nearly three years, the workgroup conducted polls, interviews, focus groups, and stakeholder meetings to determine both the impact of satellite symposia on, and the impact of medical meetings on satellite symposia. The group quickly realized that the ACC was not alone, but it was also apparent that stakeholder data held some unanticipated insights.
Early in the assessment phase, the group surveyed commercial supporters, medical communication companies, hospital and healthcare providers, medical specialty societies, and other types of healthcare-related organizations on their barriers to supporting or administering satellite symposia. Commercial supporters were the only group that listed providing “educational value when compared to annual meeting scientific sessions” as a primary barrier to supporting symposia. MSS groups were more concerned with costs. Honestly, we expected the results to show the opposite.
Additionally, while many expressed concerns about conducting satellite symposia, the symposia themselves were alive and kicking. Fifty-seven percent of providers were offering satellite symposia, and one-quarter of supporters estimated that up to half of their entire medical education budget would be spent supporting satellite symposia. Money was flowing in—and societies were counting on it. When surveyed about the financial impact of symposia to their overall program, most organizations identified the revenue stream as modestly important, and 13 percent stated that revenue generated through symposia was “absolutely crucial for the success of our annual meeting.”
Most organizations cannot afford to follow in ACC’s footsteps and remove symposia from their meetings. So the question of how to administer them remains.