Docs embrace online Continuing Medical Education (CME)

Online continuing medical education (CME) is becoming the medium of choice for physicians according to a new survey. It would be pretty shocking if the survey –sponsored as it was by a webcasting/virtual events company and an interactive content provider– showed anything less, but the results are still worth discussing.

The survey found 84 percent of physicians would prefer online CME compared yet only 6 percent participate in online education “very often” today. Reasons for favoring online CME included an ability to view content at a preferred time, avoiding travel, and spending more time on leisure.

The 6 percent figure seems very low to me. After all, there’s plenty of online CME available now, and doctors are notable for their rapid uptake of mobile devices and computers for their own use. If 84 percent want but only 6 percent get, there’s a bigger demand for computer training than I would have guessed.

Online CME is a lot less expensive to produce than the traditional, live, in-person variety. Pharmaceutical companies and medical device companies are less and less likely to sponsor expensive CME programs, and doctors themselves are unlikely to step up. That alone is enough reason to forecast a big jump in online CME. Until recently it’s been rare to see CME providers take advantage of the interactive technologies available in online formats, which is one reason actual use of online CME has lagged behind its potential. That’s likely to change rapidly as the medical world catches up.

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