Continuing Medical Education (CME) and training continues to perform an excellent job fulfilling the crucial role of educating clinicians. However, the latest Annual Report numbers available from the Accreditation Council for Continuing Medical Education (ACCME) reveal trends taking place that point to growing areas of concern.
Funding for CME has been historically split in large part between healthcare providers and commercial interests connected to the industry. This includes medical device and technology manufacturers, pharmaceutical companies and so forth.
Since 2007, commercial support has declined by almost half to 27.3% in 2012. Much of this is due to political pressure and government perceptions that commercial interests are unduly influencing medical professionals through supported instruction.
Simultaneously, the participation of physicians in CME instruction has increased 71.9%2 between 2005 and 2012. When you add non-physician participants, it still shows a healthy 63.7% increase.
Additional outside pressures are also further accelerating the need for CME and training in quality assurance processes. The recent implementation of the Affordable Care Act has introduced federal healthcare reimbursement rates that are no longer based solely on the clinical service provided. About 30% of these payments will now take into account the quality of the patient experience.
The training needed to address provider shortcomings that can lead to reduced revenue will impact virtually every level of healthcare organizations, especially for areas related to the delivery of care.
We also have to consider eight million new and at least better-insured consumers are now enrolled for 2014 through marketplaces created by the ACA. As consumers become more comfortable with the system and if it plays out well for insurers, the ACA has a good chance of bringing more uninsured people into the system in coming years. Coupled with the government’s desire to slow the healthcare cost curve, it’s likely this reimbursement system is here to stay in one form or another into the foreseeable future.
Unfortunately, all these major shifts are coming on the heels of a decade of strained budgets for many healthcare organizations. And much like a “perfect storm” poised to inflict maximum damage, state and federal governments continue to grapple with major funding shortfalls from a struggling economy.
The ACCME report numbers and pressures from ACA reimbursement clearly show the demand for CME is only going to rise, with or without the levels of financial support from outside interests enjoyed in the past. Plus, government education requirements for healthcare providers are certainly not being scaled back. And lastly, the relentless pace of change will only drive increasing need for targeted, effective training.
This new environment forces healthcare organizations and medical societies to take a much closer look at the staff training they are choosing to support. Whether pursuing required skills updates or strengthening key areas of growth for their organizations, they must make smart training choices.
The quality of the programs, research and real-world expertise of presenters, ability to fully customize trainings, and direct applicability of the skills learned should all be met.
Furthermore, the ability of the host to support and deliver the content in the most-effective manner across multiple platforms is key. Leveraging on-site symposia or live lab work across video and web platforms throughout an entire hospital network or with strategic partners around the world provides more reach and impact for strained training budgets.
It’s clear the need for CME is not going away and will only increase. New medical devices and technologies, treatments and breakthroughs will continue to change and be enhanced.
The key for providers is targeting the most effective, targeted training that yields the best results for the challenges they are facing today and in the near future.
Written by the Florida Hospital Nicholson Center, one of the largest and most experienced medical learning and surgical simulation incubation center of its kind in the country. As thought leaders dedicated to improving next-generation clinical knowledge, it has trained tens of thousands of physicians worldwide utilizing state-of-the-art surgical suites, labs and advanced medical simulation robotics learning centers.