Continuing medical education (CME) providers wrestle with a distinct challenge: offering cost-effective, accessible, and timely education that spurs actual changes in patient outcomes.
Frustrated clinicians, comprehensive reporting requirements, and ever-changing technology are all demanding new ways of accomplishing old goals. CME should be a dynamic aspect of physician education, not just a box that is checked at required intervals. Simply doling out credit for attendance is no longer enough.
But how can we understand if this education has an impact? And how can the value it provides be quantified?
In the past, this was prohibitively challenging, especially for live educational events. But today we have the ability to clearly map identified requirements and easily create custom experiences within a technology platform. Used effectively, engagement and second screen technology can dramatically transform the CME landscape.
The Learning Shift
“The perception of CME as only lectures in dark rooms or grand rounds with dwindling numbers of participants listening passively to an expert is increasingly anachronistic. Equally outdated is the view that CME is about rubber-stamping applications for credit. The end point of CME is not the credit that’s attained for licensing, certification, or credentials; rather, it is learning.” - Graham T. McMahon, MD, MMSc
Education in the past was, by default, teacher-focused. In the live setting, the model of an instructor in front of a room of healthcare professionals was replicated without deviation, and “teaching” was merely a form of information delivery. This one-size-fits-all formula rarely met the diverse needs of participants and was often ineffective.
Today, ubiquitous access has devalued information, and CME, for the sake of mere information transfer, is becoming similarly worthless. Clinicians are demanding more. Their patients deserve more.
Instead of learning by listening to a lecture, physicians and other medical professionals want an exchange of ideas and an engaging experience. The emergence of the millennial healthcare professional challenges educators to design and deliver education differently. To understand new material and implement it effectively in practice, all demographics must be able to interact with it, collaborating and problem-solving in practice-relevant ways.
New Methods, New Measurement
“To optimize the benefits of education, clinical leaders need to think of accredited CME as the professional development vehicle that can help them drive change and achieve goals, in consort with quality improvement efforts, patient safety projects, and other systems changes." - Graham T. McMahon, MD, MMSc
The ability to measure learning and gauge audience engagement is the necessary shift toward modernizing the approach to CME. It transforms a passive experience into an active learning environment, capable of evolution as new needs develop and learning gaps are revealed.
Management consultant Peter Drucker famously wrote, “What gets measured gets managed.” This is especially true for CME. By quantifying learning, we can deliver value through CME experiences and deliver improved clinician performance as a result. Data can be collected and analyzed for subsequent events and used to recognize educational trends and shifts.
By utilizing engagement technology, we can understand what types of past education methods were inadequate, inefficient, or ineffective. Through audience polling, meeting data capture, and comparison surveys tied to post-CME performance, we can determine what was or wasn’t valuable.
These innovative types of tools can also promote the collaboration and team problem solving that healthcare professionals desire. They can help develop comradery among colleagues, bridge geographical divides, and ultimately, facilitate improved outcomes with more shared perspectives working to solve a single challenge.
Pre-event polling and engagement technology can be used to develop assessment data and support the development of CME programs tailored to meet specific identified and validated needs. Participants no longer need to be subject to a single offering. Instead, CME can evolve and adapt to the individual.
We can engage different learning styles and adjust content and presentations with nimble attention to detail. From simulations to blended learning experiences, social media implementation to gamification, new tools are offering fresh perspectives for CME.
The frustration with outdated teaching methods is creating a huge opportunity for CME innovation. By harnessing the power of interactive meeting technology and analytics, we can produce better experiences for clinicians leading to greatly improved outcomes for patients.