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 constraints, quality improvement, Risk 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 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.
Bias and Capitol Hill
Other notable sessions included the opening keynote by J. David Haddox, DDS, MD, vice president, Health Policy, Purdue Pharma LP, who sprinkled Mark Twain quotes into his exploration of bias and conflict of interest. He also proposed that COI isn’t all about financial relationships and that perhaps there should be two types of disclosures—one financial, and one of the nonfinancial relationships that could bias and others involved in CME. As he said, “I am human. Therefore I am biased.”
Members of the CME Coalition, a group that lobbies in Washington, D.C., on behalf of CME interests, joined Rockpointe Corp. President Thomas Sullivan and the Coalition for Healthcare Communication’s John Kamp, PhD, JD, on the stage to fill the audience in on the latest on healthcare reform, specifically what all the rhetoric and regulations like the Sunshine Act could mean for CME. So far, while they remain hopeful that CME will be excluded from the Sunshine Act’s disclosure requirements, the presenters agreed that there remains a strong possibility that it won’t. Stay tuned.
Carolyn Clancy, MD, director of the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, reprised a plenary she presented in January at the Alliance for Continuing Education in the Health Professions annual conference with a spin on how collaboration can help close the gaps between what can be done to better treat patients and what we are actually doing. She also talked about education’s role in making clinicians better informed and prepared for a world where the amount of information available is always expanding. “We are building systems to help us learn from what we do every day,” she said.
AMA Bows Out, NC-CME Gets New Executive Director
At the conference’s closing, Robert Orsetti, MA, FACME, CCMEP, Editor, CE Measure—The Journal of Outcomes Measurement in Continuing Healthcare Education, announced that the American Medical Association has refocused its strategic plan and, effective October 31, will no longer provide administrative support to the Task Force. The Task Force is now actively seeking viable organizations to take over. He also acknowledged the AMA for its 23 years of support, and expressed the hope that the AMA will continue to send representatives to the annual meeting.
Another changing of the guard was announced at a ceremony held after hours for the 2012 new holders of the Certified CME Professionals designation. Judy Ribble, PhD, CCMEP, who has been the executive director of the National Commission for Certification of CME Professionals (the organization that oversees the CCMEP program) since 2006, will be retiring. Her successor will be Melinda Steele, MEd, CCMEP, president, Confluence Educational Consulting Inc., who also was the program chairwoman for the 2012 ACEPH conference.
Stay tuned to the Capsules blog for more reports from the conference.