Taking the Pulse of eCME – What’s Next for Continuing Medical Education

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Matt Titus, vice president and chief commercial officer at epocrates

Over the past two years, we have witnessed the massive digital disruption to healthcare caused by the pandemic. The most common example tends to be the rapid adoption of technologies like telemedicine, but this disruption has touched even the most seemingly small parts of the healthcare ecosystem and will have lasting consequences.

Just consider the conferences that once drew large crowds of physicians seeking to meet their continuing medical education (CME) requirements. Doctors have not only gone online for patient care, but for these activities as well – and things will never be the same again.

In fact, new survey data from Clarify* highlights how physicians are expected to learn about the latest clinical developments and interact with eCME programs and in-person events in a post-pandemic future (all data points in this article are attributed to the Clarivate report “Taking the Pulse US 2021”: optimizing physician engagement).

The findings specifically point to three key takeaways and what this means for the medical community going forward.

Digital learning is more popular than ever

In the current environment, physicians and clinical staff members are experiencing severe burnout, administrative burden, and high patient volume among in-person and telehealth appointments. When CME requirements are placed above these priorities, physicians increasingly turn to eCME to receive the credits needed to maintain their license. Over the past three years, there has been a steady increase in the use of eCME, with more than three times as many hours of medical education received through eCME than in person. As a result, eCME has become one of the digital channels with the highest weekly reach (34%) among physicians.

The main reason eCME has become a preferred method for continuing medical education is its inherent flexibility, as described by the majority of physicians (63%). It makes it easier for physicians to fit CME credits into their busy schedule in a way that works for them, whether that’s from their mobile device between patient appointments or on their laptop after hours. work. However, flexibility isn’t the only benefit doctors find valuable.

eCME can also reduce barriers to accessing relevant clinical information by meeting physicians where they are. It provides a digital learning environment that gives physicians faster and more flexible access to medical education. Additionally, it provides greater value with personalized content that is more relevant to a physician’s personal area of ​​practice. This is one of the real breakthroughs that the eCME is causing. In the past, at in-person medical education events, physicians could attend sessions that were not as relevant to their particular area of ​​practice.

Physicians consider eCME the most trusted source of information
Over the past few years, the eCME has also cemented its position as the most trusted source of clinical information and medical education for almost three out of four physicians (73%). A source of reliable clinical information has become even more essential to help reduce physician information overload as clinical guidelines continue to evolve.

While the abundance of clinical data and information available to physicians is essential to providing the best care possible, it can often be more overwhelming than helpful. Doctors simply don’t have enough time in the day to keep up to date with the latest clinical information. To combat this, it is important to ensure that CME content is digitally accessible, concise, and up-to-date for physicians.


The future is a mix between in-person and digital medical education

While digital learning is quickly becoming a preferred method for CME, conferences and in-person learning events still hold value. Diving into the data, 70% of physicians said they are comfortable with virtual conferences since the pandemic has made virtual events a mainstay. Additionally, the ability to listen to conference sessions on their own time makes these events even more appealing, with 76% of physicians citing the flexibility as valuable. However, physicians still find value in in-person events (68%) because there are better opportunities for engagement and networking with peers.

Given the pandemic-spurred normalization of virtual events coupled with an emerging post-pandemic environment, we can expect hybrid-style learning events to best meet the needs of physicians, as long as they provide relevant information and find ways to involve treating physicians. This can include creating more interactive components for virtual events such as live polls, Q&A style sessions, and breakout groups. In addition, eCME plays an important role in organizing hybrid style events by providing convenient, flexible and continuous access to learning materials.

Data claims that eCME is having a positive impact on American physicians. That there is no one-size-fits-all approach to continuing medical education. The key to promising and impactful medical education will come from being able to meet physicians where they are, in a way that suits them, with the information most relevant to their personal areas of practice.


About Matt Titus

Matt Titus is Vice President and Chief Commercial Officer of epocrat a athenahealth, Inc. company that provides digital clinical decision support to prescribers. Titus joined epocrates from Real Chemistry, a global healthcare innovation company, where he served as Executive Vice President, Sales and Customer Experience and led commercial teams for health technology product offerings and solutions. healthcare and business consulting, including PaaS, SaaS and IaaS solutions for pharmaceuticals and pharmaceuticals. life science companies. Previously, he served as Vice President of Business Development – Americas for Kantar Profiles (Healthcare), where he was responsible for sales for the Americas and led global business and revenue growth strategy, and also worked as a general manager at SERMO.


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