The pharmaceutical industry has stepped up to deliver much of the continuing education that physicians need. Far from resenting or being suspicious about industry involvement in their educations, more than half of physicians believe that educational grants from pharmaceutical companies have had a positive impact on CME opportunities, according to a 2005 Pri-Med survey (see "Perceptions of Pharma-Funded CME," bottom right). However, with ever more pressure on physicians' time, it's important to hone the delivery of education. The Pri-Med Physician Insights team has conducted regular qualitative and quantitative research studies across multiple physician audiences over the past six months to help CME providers stay abreast of what, when, and how physicians want to be educated.
Be the "Black Belt"
In-depth interviews with physician participants revealed that the main reason they strive to keep up with the rapid pace of medicine is because they want to be exceptional—to be, as one physician put it, a "black belt." Without the most current information, physicians feel inept, as though they are not able to "do their job" of providing the best possible care for their patients. And reassuring patients that they are receiving the best care has become more difficult, with patients bringing in information gleaned from DTC advertising and online healthcare information. Physicians feel that having confident and thorough answers to patient queries is key to earning their trust, which is a primary factor in how well those patients comply with their treatment regimens.
Where They Get It
Healthcare providers appreciate the availability of various CME channels—most often, live meetings, print, and the Internet––so that they can choose the ones that best meet their lifestyle and educational goals.
Live meetings remain the most popular CME source by far for both specialists and primary care practitioners, accounting for half of all credits earned. PCPs and specialists typically differ, however, in their reasons for attending live conventions with exhibit halls. Whereas half of all cardiologists attend conventions to learn about the latest diagnostic tools and evaluations, the majority of PCPs go to them for updates on new practice guidelines. In fact, less than 20 percent of specialists say they would choose conventions to reach their educational goal.
Online CME is gaining on live meetings, rising in physicians' esteem by 50 percent in the past two years. That's not cutting into live-meeting numbers, however. Of the 53 percent of physicians who plan to earn more online CME hours in the future, two-thirds still expect to attend the same number of live meetings. And print media continues to hold its ground, representing more than 30 percent of PCPs' total CME hours.