Alliance for CME Conference Day 2: NAMEC SWOT analysis

The National Association of Medical Education Companies held a really interesting session after hours on Thursday on a SWOT (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats) analysis they had conducted via the CME LinkedIn group.

While many strengths were outlined, I thought they all boiled down to this at the core: CME itself is becoming more effective by being designed based on knowledge/care gaps in mind, including multiple touch points, using multimedia formats to engage physicians, using social media to disseminate information, and measuring outcomes to determine what's working, what isn't, and what further education is needed.

An interesting strength someone in the audience chimed in with was that CME providers also are a strong economic force, "we provide employment," he pointed out. In terms of MEC-specific strengths, people pointed out that they're innovative and nimble in responding to changes, and "we're held to a higher standard already." As another person pointed out, "We're the only group that actually chooses to do this," which I thought was an interesting thing to say!

While there were a few weaknesses as well, again they boiled down to the fact that the CMI enterprise isn't telling its own story very well, from the bias safeguards around commercial support, to why and how it's different from promotion, to articulating a universal definition of what the different outcome levels mean.

Key quote: "We continue to let others define who we are as an industry. We should not be apologists for the good work we do."

The opportunities are, as the presenter said, "hiding in plain sight," including some that may spring from healthcare reform, the growing role of social media in healthcare, and the wealth of data the CME enterprise is generating (if providers can stop protecting data from "competitors" and share the wealth with each other, that is.)

Similar to weaknesses, most of the threats people talked about stem from a lack of communication: confusion in the media, and among healthcare providers, on the difference between certified CME and promotion, for example.

There was a lot of great discussion, and the energy in the room was high. But, as session leader Jan Perez said, it's easy to just let the idea of advocating for CME drop once everyone gets back to their daily grind. We talked about contacting our local congressmen/women, writing letters to the paper when articles are published that bash CME, submitting papers outlining good CME cases to non-CME association and disease-state publications.

What else can CME stakeholders do to set the record straight?

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