The plenary session that officially kicked off this year's Alliance for CME conference offered provocative strategic imperatives for collaborating and balancing stakeholder interests--including some that usually are relegated to the hallway discussions. As Joe Green, PhD, Professional Resource Network, said in his opening statements, "We need to collaborate if we don't want to become irrelevant." And that doesn't mean the usual talk about collaboration that often has an ivory tower flavor: CME providers live in the real world, where economics and politics have as much to do with success as good outcome measure design. "The politics of CME is overwhelming--if you ignore it, you won't be successful," said Green. But it must be done, not only because collaboration is a requisite under the new ACCME accreditation criteria, but also because today's environment demands it, Green said.

For a collaborative effort to succeed, CME providers need to deal not just with the substantive issues, such as needs assessment, content, objectives, and evaluation, but also with the social and political relationships of those involved, said Green.

The panel, which included Ronald Cervero, PhD, University of Georgia; Maureen Doyle-Scharff, MBA, Abbot Laboratories; Harry Gallis, MD, Carolinas Healthcare System; Marcia Jackson, PhD, American College of Cardiology; Murray Kopelow, MD, ACCME; George Mejicano, MD, University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health; and Karen Overstreet, EdD, Indicia Medical Education LLC, came up with 12 strategic imperatives for the future of CME, and attendees were invited to vote ahead of time on which they felt were most important.

The 12 strategies fell into three main categories: Advancing the CME profession, designing appropriate CME, and ensuring the validity and responsiveness of CME content. Look for the March issue of Medical Meetings for a full discussion of what attendees identified as the most important strategies for the future of CME, the perspectives of the different stakeholders represented on the panel on these strategies, and how you can use this information in the real world in which your CME activities take place.