CME in the next 40 years...

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The stage is set for grantors and providers to continue evolving the quality of programming and their compliance with regulation during the next 40 years. Funding is another matter. Will it return to pre-OIG levels?

“The funds are not being released until these companies come up with an appropriate way of providing the grants. They have to have a little time to work out that process,” said Rich Tischler, PhD, a former secretary of the ACCME who now runs Viator Medical Communications.

Even with its revamped structure, pharma-supported CME will continue to draw debate. Money for medical education still comes from marketing. Yet, “there will be an increasing reluctance on the part of marketing managers to provide money with no strings attached other than a specific therapeutic area through the CME grants department,” predicted Lewis Miller, principal at consulting firm WentzMiller & Associates.

Miller said he sees more funding coming directly from corporate rather than marketing, and more grant dollars flowing into medical-society-run consortia that allocate funds to hospitals, schools or local medical societies. An early sign: Wyeth is sponsoring a pilot with the Medical Association of Georgia that lets states distribute CME monies.

As for providers, since their primary contact is now the director of CME, those that have survived off of good relationships with sales reps may be forced to exit accredited CME, sticking to promotional med ed, or close up shop completely, Miller said.

Many grantors are funding programs with outcomes measurement ability as a way to justify their investment. The ACCME's recently revamped accreditation model, which links accreditation to activities designed to demonstrate improvement, should spur grantors to direct money to providers who have full accreditation. In turn the new criteria should act as a catalyst for providers to achieve the highest level of accreditation they can.

Another trend is the effort to link maintenance of certification for physicians, which various boards of medicine are implementing, to a multi-stage process that includes performance improvement. “I look at it as a value add for the doc,” said Mark Schaffer, VP for CME compliance, Thomson Healthcare. “That too is going to help move CME forward in a very good fashion.”

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