Half of All Medical Continuing Education Will Be Online By 2016
A physician's CME, or continuing medical education, never stops. To keep up-to-date with advances, CME for physicians usually mean costly and time-consuming trips to conferences for in-person sessions.
But in the past few years there has been a rise in medical continuing education online. A new study predicts by 2016, half of doctors will be using distance medical education to earn online CME credits.
That's up from about 7 to 9 percent just two years ago, in 2008.
"These findings are very provocative," says Dr. John Harris Jr., lead author of the study and president of Medical Directions, a firm that provides distance medical online courses for medical education. Harris is also assistant professor of clinical medicine at the University of Arizona.
"We know that lots of health professionals are using the Internet for ongoing education," says Harris. "We also know that the tried-and-true approaches, such as live meetings, are still quite popular.
"But these analyses, which are based on 11 years of data, show that the growth rate for online CME is well-established and exponential. We can expect far more changes in how CME is developed, distributed, and probably paid for in the next 10 years than we have seen in the past 30."
Shifting from an in-person to web CME model will have a major impact on the multi-billion dollar CME industry, say the study authors. They believe the new technology provided by medical continuing education online is a form of "disruptive innovation" (a term coined by Harvard professor Clayton Christiansen) that might up-end existing industry, but could ultimately result in lower prices and higher quality for the consumer.
The study was conducted through an analysis of data from the Accreditation Council for Continuing Medical Education and a survey of 272 publicly available distance learning medical course providers.
"The Growth, Characteristics, and Future of Online CME" was published in the Winter 2010 edition of the Journal of Continuing Education in the Health Professions.