Let’s talk about the present and future of Continuing Medical Education

  • Posted on 20.11.2014

Let’s talk about the present and future of Continuing Medical Education


Serge Bernasconi

Chief Executive Officer, MedTech Europe


You may have heard recently that the leadership of EDMA, Eucomed and MedTech Europe made some very important recommendations to their memberships about how to improve the EDMA and Eucomed Codes of Ethical Business Practice, which together we’ll ultimately refer to as the MedTech Europe Code of Ethical Business Practice.

In short, our leadership has proposed two big changes to the way MedTech companies provide support to healthcare professionals (HCPs) for continuing medical education (CME). They’ve proposed that MedTech companies phase out direct sponsorship of HCPs to third-party organised medical educational conferences and also that rules be made more stringent for the indirect sponsorship of HCPs.

Our industry is committed to maintaining our relationship with HCPs and making sure they get the CME they need. But it’s time to do that in a clearer, more consistent way across Europe. 

If you had to re-read that last paragraph a second time before it made sense, don’t worry—you’re not alone. Let’s take a few steps back in time to get our bearings…

The MedTech industry has always played an important role in ensuring that HCPs have access to the continuous medical education they need so they can maintain their skills and get up to speed on the latest medical developments. After all, HCPs are absolutely essential to the medical technology innovation cycle—medtech companies rely on their input to improve and create new in vitro diagnostic tests and medical devices.

Today, companies either provide support directly to HCPs to attend medical educational conferences (direct sponsorship) or they provide funds to a third-party, like a scientific society, which then redistributes them to HCPs as it sees fit (indirect sponsorship).

The thing is, the legal landscape in Europe is changing. A lot of outside stakeholders don’t quite understand this model of support and many EU countries have taken action to regulate in different ways and in some cases have banned it outright. You can imagine that it must be difficult for companies to keep up with constantly changing rules. So to make things clear, the EDMA Executive Committee and the Eucomed board have suggested that, as an industry, we phase out direct sponsorship of HCPs and clarify the guidelines around indirect sponsorship.

Our industry is committed to maintaining our relationship with HCPs and making sure they get the CME they need. But it’s time to do that in a clearer, more consistent way across Europe. Naturally, industry will continue to directly sponsor HCPs for training on our products and relevant surgical procedures in order to ensure maximum safety for patients. This sponsorship will occur in compliance with very strict criteria which are already included in the Code and which will be reinforced in the new Code.

We know these are big changes and the transition won’t be easy—so we’ve pledged to work closely with all stakeholders over the next three years to make this as straightforward as possible: we’re going to work with our national associations to help them transpose this among their members and importantly, we’re going to sit side by side with HCP groups, professional conference organisers and other organisations to figure out the best way forward to keep CME going strong.

Now this is a complex topic—and it seems like every time I answer one question about it, ten more pop up in its place. We’ve done our best to put a comprehensive Q&A document together, but if something is on your mind that you don’t find there, don’t hesitate to let me know in the comments or contact MedTech Europe directly.

Aside from the progress we are making on this front, the EDMA data team has been hard at work to be able to present to you the latest market statistics of the In Vitro Diagnostic (IVD) industry in Europe, for the year 2013. The figures include macroeconomic and healthcare data for all 27 member states, as well as the European Free Trade Association (EFTA) members and, for the first time, figures from Turkey.

What’s particularly interesting in the figures is the fact that IVDs account for only 0.8% of Total Health Expenditure in Europe. What is also quite remarkable is that changes on the Diabetes market (regulatory restrictions, budgetary measures etc.) have a considerable impact on the 2013 figures.

Diabetes is a key health concern for Europe and a key focus of the medical technology industry. That is why we have launched the first MedTech Europe Diabetes Group. It wants to become a constructive partner in addressing the challenges surrounding diabetes and play an active role in the diabetes management discussion. To that end, the group is keen to have an exchange of dialogue with all relevant players in this field, including governments, professional societies and patients.

If you are an EDMA or Eucomed member interested in joining the Diabetes Sector Group, contact Tanja Valentin, MedTech Europe’s Director Government Affairs and Public Policy, for more information.

If you are not yet a member of EDMA or Eucomed but working in the field of medical technology, you should contact Christopher Breyel, MedTech Europe’s Senior Manager Membership Services, to have a chat about the value and benefits of EDMA or Eucomed membership.

Talk to you next month!

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