Pharma and Device Companies Funding CME? Why bother?

October 20, 2008 at 1:03 am Leave a comment

NOTE: I published this blog back in October of 2008. With the recent news that the University of Michigan is foregoing pharmaceutical support for it’s CME program and the subsequent coverage that news received, much of it resurrecting the continuous issue of bias, I thought I’d revisit this one.

Suppose I own a pharmaceutical or medical device manufacturing company. You know what? I am going to shed providing support for accredited CME and I am doing it right now. My company does not need the extra hassles.

Please understand. I see how my company’s support for CME adds value to the relationships we have with our customers. And, in my opinion, this support is not as “evil” as some in organized medicine are making it out to be. But you know what? There are too many in the CME enterprise, the physician community, and government questioning that any value can come from my business supporting CME. Do you think I need that kind of press? What about the exposure coming from the federal government? And I really don’t need a bunch (although a minority) of boisterous customers and organizations that supposedly represent my customers shouting to the world that my company should not be supporting their CME. Nope. No thanks. Nada.

I don’t need the extra costs of staffing the CME function in my company. Grant applications. Grant application reviews. Compliance officers. Compliance reviews. LOA’s. Check requests and disbursements. Project reconciliation processes.   Why pay the overhead to house these functions. I don’t need the costs of educating my employees about the CME rules and regulations. I have to pay a lot to monitor employee performance to be sure they don’t get my company in trouble by breaking some inconsequential CME rule or regulation. I really don’t like the entitlement attitude some physicians and physician organizations have that suggests my company owes it to them to support their pet CME project because they use my company’s products. On and on.

I don’t need the hassles and intimidation the federal regulators put on my company to insure compliance with their requirements. Who wants to be looking over your shoulder all of the time for fear the feds will come calling.

I don’t want to wonder if the money my company puts into the CME enterprise is having an impact on health care delivery. I don’t want to have to wonder if the money I put into CME is having and impact on patient health status. You know what? If my company puts money into the CME enterprise my shareholders want to know what impact the money is having on the delivery of evidence based patient care and to the extent possible patient health status in clinical areas of interest to my company. And yes, my stockholders want to know if the investment in CME is having a positive impact or any added value for our customers and the company – bottom line included but not exclusively.

Am I going to put the money I have been allocating to support CME into a big ole pot and let someone outside of my company decide how to spend that money with no accountability back to my shareholders? Are you crazy?

People in my company can’t even talk to CME providers about areas of mutual interest. Like I am going to give money to someone my company representatives can’t even engage in a significant and appropriate dialogue. Right!

So what about the notion that the money my company puts into CME impacts the cost of drugs and thus the cost to the patient. Of course it does. My company is not a charity. I have to recoup those costs. Removing my support for CME will not reduce those costs. If health care providers have to bear the costs of their own CME who is ultimately going to pay? The patient of course. Health care costs might actually go up when I  take what I have been spending to support CME and spend it on something that will add value to my relationships with my customers. And I assure you I will find a way to do that.

And by the way the CME enterprise will save money when we stop funding CME. No need for the AMA to spend money on the annual Task Force meeting. ACCME can cut the accreditation application and review process in half by eliminating all of the questions and documentation required related to commercial support for CME. Wow. CME providers might be able to say they are part of the “Green Movement” with all of the paper saved. The Alliance can reduce the number of days needed for its annual meeting saving its members travel and lodging costs to attend the meeting. The CME enterprise won’t need the new “Faculty Development” initiative to teach physicians who speak at CME events the difference between CME and marketing (oh please).  CME providers can save money on going to all of the meetings they think they can’t miss because they need to get the latest information on how to effectively beg for bucks. CME providers won’t have to spend all of that time writing grants chasing support. Our sector won’t have to spend the money on all of the high cost conferences that try to address the maze of rules and regulations imposed on our support to the CME enterprise.  Wow. What a savings for everybody. Everybody except the physician and patient of course. Physicians will still have to engage in CME and to pay for that CME. Physicians will pass those costs on to their patients.

What will happen in the CME field when money from the pharmaceutical and device sector is gone? The requirements of physician participation in CME are not going away. In fact, those requirements are becoming more rigorous and narrowly focused. Look at maintenance of certification requirements and the  proposed rules for maintenance of licensure.

Pharmaceutical and device companies still have the obligation of educating those who purchase and use their products. They must continue to support education of physicians. This will be a bit easier in the absence of the accredited CME hassles.

Every system is perfectly designed to get the results it gets. If the CME system is not getting the results it wants then that system has to change. Pharma and device manufacturers support for CME can and probably will be stopped. The CME system will change as a result of that decision. Will that be the magic bullet that will enable CME to reach its full potential in impacting patient outcomes? Forgive me. I am a skeptic and I approve this question.

Tell me again why pharma and device manufacturers should support accredited CME? I seem to have lost my interest in doing so.

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Entry filed under: ACCME, Certification, CME Issues, Continuing Medical Education, Continung Professional Development, Pharma Funding, Physician Continuing Education. Tags: , , , .

There is Support for Industry Support of CME ACCME Releases Comments

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