Donald Trump has now been inaugurated as the 45th President of the United States. There has been much angst about his rise to office, but there are some hopeful signs for continuing medical education.
In December, the House and Senate passed the 21st Century Cures Act. The act was supposed to include a provision that would have exempted all indirect CME payments, reprints, and textbooks from Open Payments reporting of transfers of value between physicians and pharmaceutical companies. At the last minute, this provision was pulled from the bill due to objections from Senator Chuck Grassley (R-IA). But when it comes to accredited CME, most payments made by CME providers were already exempt and the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services has made it clear that when a CME faculty payment or transfer of value is made by a CME provider, unless a CME provider is provided a list of speakers from the supporting company, those payments are not reportable.
The physician nominated to be secretary of Health and Human Services, Thomas Price, MD, was a supporter of the section in 21st Century Cures that would have exempted all indirect education payments, including reprints and textbooks. This poses an opportunity to see some greater clarity from CMS around education. In addition to this issue, Dr. Price is very concerned at the complexity of the healthcare system and the need for education for healthcare providers to further understand the complex health system with the goal of improving patient care.
A change agent for this improvement lies in several existing programs. The Agency for Healthcare Quality and Research, or AHRQ, announced a plan to transform health care organizations into learning healthcare systems. This will catalyze the work already under way in healthcare organizations to improve patient care by expanding and building on the use of evidence-based medicine.
Through this project, AHRQ is seeking input for innovative ideas and case studies on how to improve treatments, processes, and procedures that are working. The hope is that this project will renovate our current healthcare systems, result in improved patient care, and promote greater efficiencies.
Other agencies are also embracing healthcare learning, including the newly revised CDC learning section, which allows online access to hundreds of CDC-created web-based courses.
With all the changes and potential changes in healthcare, education will be the key to successful implementation. The CME community can play a huge role in guiding the healthcare ship to safe shores and creating communities of healthcare learning systems.