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While it continues to decline, the pace at which commercial support is decreasing did slow a bit in 2013, and all other indicators show that the continuing medical education enterprise is still looking healthy.
While many challenges remain for continuing medical education providers, business-wise, they’re doing all right. According to the Accreditation Council for Continuing Medical Education’s 2013 Annual Report, combined total income for - and state-accredited CME providers topped $2.5 billion. This represents about a 3 percent increase in total combined income over 2012.
The fact that almost three-quarters of this total income comes from sources other than commercial support also shows a continuation of the now six-year decline in commercial support dollars reported by accredited providers, though the 2 percent decrease over 2012 commercial support levels is a much more gradual slide than the more than 10 percent drop represented in last year’s data report. As of 2011, in-kind support has no longer been included in the commercial support numbers, so it’s not possible to accurately compare the data to that of earlier years.
In contrast, income from sources such as registration fees, government grants, private donations, and allocations for a provider’s parent organization or other internal departments are up more than 5 percent in 2013 over 2012, accounting for $1.5 billion in total income. Advertising and exhibits income also rose a modest 2.5 percent in 2013 to $340 million. On balance, total expenses also are up, albeit by less than a percent. According to the ACCME, there has been a 6 percent average increase in income from sources other than commercial support from 2005 and 2013.
Related: ACCME's 2012 Annual Report
The report also found that commercial support was not in the mix for 83 percent of ACCME-accredited CME providers. These providers’ activities drew about 80 percent of the total participants. The percentage of activities supported by industry grants continues a slow downward spiral, decreasing by 3 percent since 2010, which was when the ACCME first included data about commercial support at the activity level.