CME Is An Effective Learning Hub For Physicians

Why CME Providers Are Celebrating This Week: Decades Worth of CME Studies Found That CME Is Undeniably An Effective Learning Hub For Physicians
By: Haley Hoffman and Beth Brillinger, CCMEP

Last week, the Accreditation Council for Continuing Medical Education (ACCME) published data that has CME providers everywhere throwing their hats up in the air and proclaiming…FINALLY!  The ACCME published two reports, authored by Ronald M. Cervero, PhD, Professor and Associate Vice President for Instruction at the University of Georgia, that address, one: the effectiveness of CME, and two: the relationship between commercial support and perceived bias in CME activities. Dr. Cervero and colleagues compiled hundreds of individual CME studies over several decades and found that overall, research shows that physicians actually perceive very low levels of commercial bias in CME activities (3-5%), and furthermore, they report the same level of bias for activities that were not commercially supported. And as far as the overall effectiveness of CME programs, his research shows that CME has a positive impact on physician performance and patient health outcomes.

From his findings, Dr. Cerveo concluded many things about the effectiveness of CME, one being that CME “leads to greater improvement in physician performance and patient health if is more interactive, uses more methods, involves multiple exposures, is longer, and is focused on outcomes that are considered important by physicians.” Information like this reminds CME providers of the unique opportunity we have to raise the bar when it comes to quality improvements in health care. Formats are just as important as content, and it is critical that we continue to broaden our educational visions in order to really connect to the learner, and make a difference in clinical care.

On the issue of commercial bias, research findings suggest that there is no evidence that supports or refutes the belief that commercial support creates bias in CME activities. Check out this snippet from the article published by Policy and Medicine last week that gives you a glimpse of Dr. Cervero’s conclusions on the issue of commercial support affecting physician practice:

If you were looking at the negative effects of commercial support, you would expect to see more prescriptions for the pharmaceutical company that was supporting that education. That would be the worst outcome, that the physician was not making an independent clinical judgment about how to treat this patient and was unduly influenced by the CME activity because of how it was funded. I mean that would be, to me that would be the trail of action, and there hasn’t been anything that could document that.

– Ronald M. Cervero, PhD

At CME Outfitters, we already know the importance and value of delivering evidence-based and balanced education to clinicians. For every activity CME Outfitters delivers we evaluate, identify, and resolve any potential conflicts of interest through a rigorous content validation procedure, use of evidence-based data and research, and a multidisciplinary peer review process. As a CME provider we know how critical our education is to our audiences, but this new research helps prove to skeptics everywhere that providing continuing medical education programs to clinicians is imperative, as it truly does make a difference in clinical practice and patient care. And to top it all off: these findings can help the healthcare community keep worries at bay about perceived commercial bias having an impact on physician performance. Please click on the links below to review the in-depth research reports published by the ACCME.

Effectiveness of Continuing Medical Education: Updated Synthesis of Systematic Reviews

Is There A Relationship Between Commercial Support and Bias in Continuing Medical Education Activities? An Updated Literature Review