The Future of Continuing Medical Education

  • Posted on 16.10.2014

The Future of Continuing Medical Education

Continuous Medical Education

Yesterday, EDMA and Eucomed announced recommendations to respective members on how to improve their Codes of Ethical Business Practice. Chief among their recommendations are a phase out of direct sponsorship and stricter guidelines for indirect sponsorship of healthcare professionals to attend third-party organised conferences. They’ve also committed to working with stakeholders to elaborate new models of support for the continuing medical education of HCPs. What follows is my take on the future of CME. What is the current state of continuing medical education (CME)? Is CME itself – and the way it is being delivered – truly effective?

Almost everyone involved in medicine – from regulators to physicians – agree that CME is essential. Today, a significant proportion of CME takes place during medical congresses where delegates often receive direct industry sponsorship. It is this sponsorship that has attracted regulatory concern, putting CME into question.

Is Continuous Medical Education itself – and the way it is being delivered – truly effective?

One current concept of CME is that simply presenting scientific/clinical information (usually through long and complex PowerPoint slides) is education enough for most practicing physicians. In my experience of interacting and working with practitioners, I have found this to be neither true, nor enough. Clinicians today are looking for something that is directly applicable to their daily practice.

To respond to real physician needs, the Europa Group works closely with medical societies and institutions as well as with committed groups of physicians. First to understand their needs and then to develop high-quality, effective and interactive practitioner education. Our educative solutions are the results of rigorous academic research & development with experts in adult learning.

This is how it works…

All sessions are run by and for physicians. When physicians are nominated by their societies to present at these sessions, our education experts provide additional training to help them effectively deliver their message. Interestingly, this is greatly appreciated, even among senior clinicians, who have never received any practical training in educational delivery techniques. Coached feedback is also offered on their performance, generating a culture of continuous improvement.

All CME sessions are specifically developed to address the unmet needs of the clinical community, covering key techniques and innovative developments. CME sessions, evaluated by the attendees and a peer group of physicians, are continuously upgraded using this feedback. Every CME session is interactive, participative and aimed at harnessing the collective intelligence of the community – participants ask what is important to them, share their experiences and contribute to the overall understanding and knowledge of the group.

Critically, every session is focused on improving the outcomes for individual patients. The content is set entirely by physicians – never influenced by us or industry partners – and accommodates the needs of differing geographies, experience and health systems.

“Information” sessions are distinct from “educative” sessions, creating a structured and interactive approach transforming the CME experience, improving daily practice and creating real value for patients, physicians, industry, payers and society.

“Effective” CME during congresses benefits industry:

  • by enhancing patient safety in helping physicians understand when, how and where to employ medical technologies in the safest and most effective manner through “Best clinical Practices” sessions.
  • by allowing technologies to be openly compared through peer-to-peer facilitated exchanges – something industry cannot do directly.
  • By providing industry with a direct link to their community of practitioners; allowing industry – and the innovative technologies they provide – to be associated with the scientific integrity of the meeting.
  • By encouraging dialogue through “how to” and scientific sessions that helpsinnovative technologies become quickly established as physicians discuss and share techniques. The underlying pathologies that new technologies are designed to treat are explored and discussed, placing these innovations in the context of clinical and daily practice; potential poor performance is reduced as less experienced physicians are exposed to their more experienced colleagues.
  • By facilitating discussions on cost-effectiveness that offer older technologies additional life.

What’s next for CME?

CME is essential for the development and safe deployment of new medical technologies, for innovation and for a healthy future for the medical technology industry. Today there exists both effective and ineffective CME, what about in five years?

CME is essential for the development and safe deployment of new medical technologies, for innovation and for a healthy future for the medical technology industry

Advances in technology and new media impact education and the Europa Group invests heavily in them in order to share and communicate more effectively with physicians. While we have no doubt they are helpful, they are not a panacea, but rather a useful adjunctive support. These technologies might play an increasing part in future education, but they are unlikely to replace the quality of face-to-face encounters, an approach reinforced by well-designed congresses.

I believe that third party congresses will continue to be the key educational medium for most physicians. Our challenge is to make them educationally effective, clearly demonstrating to all stakeholders (including regulators) that they are valuable, helpful and cost-effective. Educative processes (regardless of how they are delivered) will need to meet true community needs.

Effective CME is essential to the medical technology industry. At the Europa Group, we have been helping medical societies and institutions make CME relevant to daily practice for a long time, not just in theory, but with each congress we undertake.

The MedTech Industry has an important decision to make: Does it want to be part of this new educational process that is so important to innovation?

Your choices lie ahead…

-Thierry Herbreteau
CEO Europa Group

“This blogpost was contributed by one of the speakers at MedTech Europe’s “European MedTech Forum 2014”. Follow #mtf2014 to be part of the conversation.”

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