Doctors and other healthcare professionals now have greater access to science and knowledge generated at throughout the world, and continuing medical education/continuing professional development providers are increasingly looking beyond national borders for new audiences. Consequently, regulations, CME/CPD accreditation, and new technologies and methodologies raise questions about international standards and the need for a common language among stakeholders.

The Rome CME-CPD Group and the Society for Worldwide Medical Exchange, or SWME, are seeking answers to questions raised by the globalization of medical meetings and paving the way for global understanding through the development of new guidelines and educational resources. Here are some of the key topics addressed during the Rome CME-CPD Group annual meeting, which was supported by the SWME, and a webinar held earlier this year. 

Medical Device Trends—Bernard Maillet, MD, secretary general of the European Union of Medical Specialists, or UEMS, from 2010 to January 2013 and Rome CME-CPD Group member, served as a member on the Compliance Panel of Eucomed, an association which represents the medical devices industry at the European level.

The medical device industry often is perceived as providing inappropriate sponsorship to healthcare professionals. In 2010, Eucomed decided to introduce a compliance panel and a conference-vetting system—including the “Eucomed Guidelines on Interactions with Healthcare Professionals” document— to help medical device companies comply with the ethical standards and principles issued by Eucomed’s ethical committee.

While not replacing current legal obligations installed by the regulatory authorities in the different EU member states, the document aims to further increase transparency and compliance in the industry. The complexity of the current rules and regulations led Eucomed to create the independent centralized decision-making system to help its members make appropriate decisions about activity sponsorship.

Online CME Trends—Alvaro Margolis, MD, Rome CME-CPD Group member and president of EviMed, a leading provider of online medical education in Latin America, said that physicians and other healthcare professionals, like all of us, are used to receiving information and communicating in online formats, as well as researching online. Informal learning—learning in the workplace—currently comprises 80 percent of all learning done by physicians.

According to Margolis, online CME is set to become a large percentage of CME activities. E-CME reduces the hassle and costs of traveling, accommodations, and event planning. Because content is available on demand, physicians can learn at their own pace and at their convenience. Online CME also enables geographically dispersed physicians to participate, further increasing international collaboration and the expansion of medical knowledge.

Funding Challenges—The implications of increasing compliance restrictions on funding for CME/CPD, the effects of the global economic crisis, and other potential future challenges on CME funding are great. During a live webinar, Rome Group members Alfonso Negri, MD, (Italy), Margolis (Uruguay), and Bernard Marlow, MD, (Canada) led a discussion with more than 50 participants from the pharmaceutical and medical meetings industry on the future of CME funding. The webinar is available on YouTube.

Traditionally, the pharmaceutical industry has played a huge role in ensuring not only that medical professionals can attend CME events but also in promoting the education of the medical community, but now its financial role is on the decline worldwide. Increased regulations are making it more difficult for pharmaceutical companies to financially support and sponsor healthcare professionals. These national, regional, and international regulations place restrictions on various meeting-related expenses, pharmaceutical sponsorship, and other aspects of medical meeting planning.

Not only are regulations increasing, but they’re also increasingly complex and difficult to understand. International pharmaceutical companies, medical meeting planners, and medical associations, while all trying to promote quality congresses, symposia and the like, are finding themselves at progressively complex road blocks.

The Red Book

In collaboration with SWME, an international nonprofit dedicated to the advancement of global medical education, the Rome CME-CPD Group has developed the Red Book for Medical Meetings, a comprehensive guide for medical meeting planners on the regulations of sponsorship for medical meetings and CME/CPD accreditation systems around the world. The book offers an international compendium of pharmaceutical regulations, CME/CPD requirements, and industry regulations that are broken down on a country-by-country basis.

In doing so, they seek to ensure that medical meeting planners and the congresses, symposia, and CME events they are planning can focus on the ultimate objective: bringing healthcare professionals together to disseminate recent research findings, therapeutic advances, and scientific discoveries on a global scale so they can take those skills back into their communities, regardless of national borders, distance, or development.