Here are three items that top my CME wish list of things that would move our industry forward.

1. Let’s get a final ruling on commercial support.

Published studies suggest that commercially funded CME does not lead to bias, yet we continue to debate the topic. Academic institutions, as well as many private and public healthcare organizations, rely on commercial support to help them achieve their missions of providing high-quality healthcare for the public. Would healthcare truly be enhanced without such support? In troubled economic times, can we honestly afford to rely solely on government- and physician-funded CME models in the absence of commercial support?

Appropriately used and disclosed commercial support is vital to our industry. With existing guidelines in place to regulate its use, endless debate about its necessity only serves to distract us from the vital task at hand: developing high-quality education for the betterment of patients. Let’s end the discussion once and for all with a unified stance in favor of continued commercial support for CME.

2. Get youth in leadership positions.

During CME conferences, the current leadership frequently tells newcomers, “One day, you’ll be the leaders of our industry.” Let’s bring that day closer to reality now. Young, fresh opinions can provide a differing perspective and offer some recommendations that may not have been previously considered. From iPhone apps to Facebook and Twitter, the latest technology is being developed by Gen Xers and Yers.

What better time than now to have these important voices at the CME decision-making table, facilitating discussions about the future of CME? It would be a welcome and important gesture for the current leaders to reach out to some up-and-comers and nominate them for board positions, and then help them grow into the leaders who will help shape our future.

3. Accept Reality CME

In our quest for what should be, are we losing sight of what is—and is still very good? The reality is that staffing cuts and reduced funding continue to put economic strains on many organizations. While our collective goals are, rightly, performance improvement, not every provider has the resources to accomplish the PI task, and funders who request it are not always willing to pay for it. What’s more, not every activity in each therapeutic area is appropriate to demonstrate PI. While PI is important, before physicians improve their clinical behavior, they must first overcome knowledge gaps. Activities that demonstrate changes in knowledge and competence, therefore, are still vital, cost-effective components of a comprehensive educational curriculum. Let’s continue support of these activities as we advance toward PI‑CME.

And Now, a Fond Farewell

Since 2006, I’ve been privileged to share my observations, opinions, and recommendations in this column. I have decided to take a break from writing for a while. My wish is to provide others (hopefully some newbies) with the same opportunity I was afforded: a chance to have a public voice to provide new insights about CME. Many of you have e-mailed me, called me, or stopped to chat with me at conferences and provide some feedback on my articles. I am truly grateful for this, and for having such an extraordinary opportunity to share what I have learned and continue to learn about this exciting industry.

Ann C. Lichti, CCMEP, is an independent CME consultant. Reach her at justann@mindspring.com.

More of Ann's columns:
Conversations in CME

PI CME Meetings Challenging Economy

Strategies for Demonstrating ROE