The Face of CME: Bringing CME to the Pursuit of Improvement

July 1, 2010 at 8:13 pm Leave a comment

Are we doing all that can be done for the CME profession?

Charles Dickens once told us it is the best of times; it is the worst of times. In CME it is the best of times because the need for our skills to support continual improvement and performance excellence in medicine is driving our profession.  CME is now an improvement enterprise. We are expected to impact improvement in physician competence, performance, and ultimately in the outcome of patient care. Education is the tool we bring to the table to support these improvement efforts.

It should be easy for the CME professional to feel needed in their setting. With our skills in the education of physicians, and the proliferation of improvement tools and techniques, we can be well prepared to step in and provide a valuable service to our physician constituents. But are we capable?

It may also is the worst of times. It may seem obvious to those of us working in CME that the results of our efforts can affect the quality of care and ultimately the bottom line of our organizations. But what opinions do CEO’s in many healthcare organizations hold of CME? My guess is that it is not very high. In fact, we are not even on their list of value propositions. These same CEO’s hold high opinions of the importance of continuously trying to improve the healthcare provided in their settings. But is CME is linked to this commitment in their minds? In the vast majority of healthcare setting, I don’t think so.

CME professionals are required to be improvement professionals. CME programs are required to be improvement focused. Look at what is required of us by the ACCME. Some of us work in settings that have excellent quality programs. Few of us are in the main stream of those efforts. One reason for this has to be that we are not seen as capable improvement professionals by the leaders that matter in those organizations. Why? We have not developed the skill set required to be effective as improvement professionals. Healthcare organizations recognize the importance of quality, but they don’t understand the value of the CME profession or the CME professional in supporting their organizations quality efforts.

As CME professionals, we have to show value to our organizations, the healthcare system, and to the medical profession. Our efforts do have value, and, when properly deployed, can bring about positive change in the competence, performance, and patient outcomes of our physician constituents.  As accredited CME providers, we are required to demonstrate these impacts.

One of our challenges is to collect and analyze data for our respective organizations, provide the results to the leadership of our organizations and be part of framing solutions that will lead our organizations to use the right CME, at the right time, linked to the right situation that will lead to the right result – improved patient outcomes. This is hard work. This requires skill sets that have not yet been widely promulgated in the CME profession. We need to gain these skills or move over to let those who have these skill sets to step in do the work required to link CME to improvement. And believe me, there are groups representing people with these skill sets with their eyes focused firmly on the challenge of penetrating the health care system, including CME.

We have the responsibility, even the obligation, to link CME to improvement efforts in our organizations and the larger healthcare system.  For the skeptics out there, remember we don’t have to do any of these things, survival is not compulsory.

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Entry filed under: CME Issues, Improvement, PI CME. Tags: , , , , , , .

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