If there’s ever a part of continuing medical education that providers love to hate, it has to be the budget and reconciliation processes. I’ve listened over the years to tales of woe surrounding juggling budget templates—it seems as if every commercial supporter has its own that must be filled out. Ditto for reconciliation after the fact. Even the language people use when talking about budget items can vary from company to company and provider to provider. That’s why we ran the January/February cover story on what commercial supporters are looking for throughout the process—it was an attempt to cut through some of the fog and confusion.

Shortly after that issue came out, I received an e-mail from Sarah Krüg, who at the time was global education director, medical education group, with Pfizer Inc. She told me about an initiative she had been involved with for a year that supported everything we talked about in that article: A project to develop standardized budget and reconciliation templates, and a data dictionary that lays out standard definitions for the terms most often used during the process.

I had heard rumblings about the need for this for a few years, especially from the Alliance for CME’s pharmaceutical member group, but I figured it was one of those projects that would never get off the ground. A bunch of commercial supporters and CME providers coming to agreement on all these things? Sure, like that’s ever going to happen.

But it did. Not only did a cross-section of major stakeholders in the CME enterprise come together to work on developing standardized templates and terminology, <a href="">they actually got it done</a>. (Here's an article outlining how it happened.)And now the templates reside on the Alliance for CME’s Web site for members, and on the Medical Meetings site for non-Alliance members (go to meetingsnet.com/medicalmeetings/cme_rules_regs/
plates bit.ly/nnjcqL to download the Excel file). While I don’t do this work every day, I was pretty impressed with the package when I downloaded it; I can only imagine how those who do work with budgets and reconciliations will feel about them.

The hard part, of course, will be to get everyone to actually use the templates and data dictionary, especially on the grantor side, but I’m guessing these forms are going to be as addictive as potato chips: Once you try one, you won’t want to stop using them.

By developing tools to tame the budget monster, the CME community has once again proven that working together works. I can’t wait to see what you do next to streamline the business of CME—and of course to improve the ability of the education you provide to improve physician behavior and patient care.

Related Resources:
Budget and Reconciliation Templates
Budget and Reconciliation Templates
(Alliance for CME members only)

More of Sue's editorials:
Booths, Banners, and Bias? Does trade show booth and sponsorship sales compromise the integrity of medical societies?

A Plague of Vague Why is it that communications to the continuing medical education community are so hard to decipher?

Time to Unbundle Educational Grants Commercial supporters really don’t like it when you bundle an educational grant request with an exhibit sell sheet and drop it on the grant department’s desk. Here are some ways to unbundle your requests so each piece goes where it belongs.