The good news about CME is starting to flow. Two recent studies validated the fact that CME is substantially free of bias, whether or not the education is developed with a grant from a pharmaceutical company, funds from a hospital's grand-rounds budget, or other financial support.

At the end of the day, developing high-quality CME requires funding resources. When we abide by our updated rules, accreditation criteria, and regulatory guidance, the source of the funding doesn't get in the way of developing excellent, evidence-based education.

Now we have more good news from a former foe of grant-funded CME: the American Medical Association. In years past, the AMA Council on Ethical and Judicial Affairs printed reports that confused certified CME with “industry marketing and promotional activities” and “paid attendance at meetings.”

While the 2010 AMA CEJA report continues to confuse CME with other activities and to erroneously footnote articles that do not address CME, the AMA Taskforce on CME Provider/Industry Collaboration is now focused on the facts. In April, the Task Force produced a “Get the Facts” campaign that sets the record straight with a toolkit and series of fact sheets.

The four AMA CME Fact Sheets address the following:

  • CME: Providing valid and independent evidence for clinical decisions

  • Addressing conflict of interest through disclosure and resolution

  • Commercial support of CME and compliance with guidelines

  • Appropriate discussion of off-label drug use within CME

In its announcement of the Get the Facts campaign, the AMA plainly stated the perception problem we face in the CME enterprise: “The media, state and federal law and policy makers as well as regulators and other ‘collective/consensus opinions’ frequently use and disseminate information that can lead to incorrect assumptions and false perceptions about CME. This has led to increased regulatory scrutiny and critical public opinion regarding CME practices.”

Certified CME has been on trial for several years. Based on the evidence, however, reasonable stakeholders have finally reached a verdict: The vast majority of CME improves knowledge, competency, and patient care.

Accredited providers and other CME developers witness the impact of educational activities first-hand. Following a recent CME case study discussion, a physician attendee was overheard saying, “That presentation just helped me save a life.” Talk about performance in practice!

Even pharmaceutical teams and other grant funders are beginning to analyze the “CME Value Proposition” within their organizations. According to a colleague at a CME consulting company, funders are aligning evidence-based CME outcomes with internal educational needs assessments and scientific platforms. The result: evidence showing that CME investments can serve the public interest while furthering healthcare business goals. Apparently, CME can be a “win-win” in the healthcare arena.

Amen to that.

Stephen M. Lewis, MA, CCMEP, is president of Littleton, Colo.-based Global Education Group. He can be reached at slewis@globaleducationgroup.com.

More of Stephen Lewis’s columns:

CEJA Report Misses the Mark

Physician Education Is Not Comparable to Legal Education