While they may not yet have fully embraced online learning, a study of 971 physicians conducted by webcasting company ON24 and healthcare database marketing services provider MedData Group suggests that they soon will. While the April 2012 Joint Survey of Physician Digital Behavior found that just 6 percent of the docs said that they currently participate in virtual events, 84 percent indicated that they would prefer to attend CME training online rather than pharmaceutical company education (31 percent), dinner meetings (29 percent), or medical device training (27 percent).

Part of the reason docs may be becoming more interested in online CME activities is because virtual events and webcasts are becoming increasingly common—three-quarters of the docs said they’re seeing more of them—and 96 percent understand the benefits of being able to attend conference and CME activities virtually. Among those benefits are being able to view content at their convenience (80 percent), not having to travel (53 percent), and being able to spend more time at home (45 percent). But it’s not all about them: More than a third said virtual CME could result in better overall patient care.

And docs increasingly have the tools to make online CME more convenient, the study found. Three quarters of the physicians surveyed said they either have or plan to buy an iPad or other mobile device in the next six months.

However, keep in mind that, while they like the convenience, ease of use, and ubiquity of online CME, only 27 percent said that webcast content is becoming more relevant.

What Docs Want in Online CME
While the subject matter expertise of the online faculty was key to the physicians surveyed, faculty members’ presentation skills are essential to a good online CME experience: 61 percent wanted online presenters to have a non-nasal, clear voice; 42 percent wanted funny, entertaining presentations,; and 36 percent valued a fast-paced delivery. An openness to differing viewpoints also was important to 53 percent of those surveyed.

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