As she welcomed the approximately 250 CME providers and commercial supporters to the 23rd Annual Conference of the National Task Force on CME Provider/Industry Collaboration, the Task Force’s Chairwoman Hilary Schmidt, PhD, pointed to four main forces that are shaping continuing medical education today: cost constraintsquality improvementRisk Evaluation and Management Strategies, and maintenance of certification.

While cost constraints can make CME more difficult, the remaining three have the potential to attract new opportunities. And all can help propel new ways to collaborate. As Schmidt said, “We need to harness the power of these forces and use them to pull together.”

The conference, held October 10–12 in Baltimore, focused on doing just that. The general sessions explored the cost constraints involved in doing more CME while competing for a smaller pool of available grants; how REMS can be used to integrate education with patient safety; how the push for quality improvement is resulting in new models of collaboration; and the role of industry in achieving MOC goals.

To bring these somewhat lofty topics down to earth, the conference devoted a couple of hours the first afternoon to breakout sessions in which small groups consisting of different stakeholder groups brainstormed some possible solutions—and specific action plans—to use to overcome some of today’s issues, using the four forces as catalysts. Among the ideas floated were developing standard metrics to demonstrate outcomes, identifying new revenue streams, establishing common definitions for QI CME, developing consensus on the role of commercial support in MOC CME, and revisiting the Accreditation Council for CME Standards of Commercial Support in the context of REMS.