Medical Education: Preferred Providers

Many physicians favor CME programs affiliated with university or medical societies.
Aug 01, 2005

Alana Klein
CME providers that are affiliated with a university medical school or medical society are likely to obtain physicians' support for their programs, according to a survey conducted by Rogers Medical Intelligence Solutions, an accredited provider of CME. The survey, which examined physicians' CME provider preferences, found that many physicians prefer programs that are affiliated with respected university medical schools or medical societies over hospital-run programs or those self-accredited by medical communications agencies.

Of the 2,000 US physicians (including cardiologists, oncologists, primary care physicians/internists, and psychiatrists) surveyed, 60 percent reported that the type of CME provider is an important factor when choosing to participate in a given CME program.

Provider Type Matters
Universities (medical schools), in particular, stood out as the most preferred accreditors, getting the nod from no less than 91 percent of survey respondents. The universities were trailed by medical societies (57 percent of physicians expressed a preference for them), while programs self-accredited by medical communications agencies appealed to 22 percent of physicians. Hospital-affiliated programs came in last with the support of only 20 percent of respondents.

To learn more about the survey, visit

Understanding Physicians' Perceptions

Physician Favorites
While there are myriad reasons for physicians' CME preferences, the most significant is the bias factor. "The content is typically perceived as being less biased within a university program," says Tracy Doyle, president and CEO of Phoenix Group Holdings, a New Jersey-based medical education company that specializes in marketing solutions. A university will often hire independent activity reviewers to evaluate the fair and balanced nature of a program, whereas the companies do not, she says. "It's all about perception and the perception is that in a university setting the review is more rigorous," she says.

Tracy Doyle
There are also other forces that drive physicians' preferences, such as relevance, timeliness, and the quality of the speakers in the CME programs. "Sometimes they want to hear a nationally recognized leader versus a local thought leader. Or they will choose a program based on the speakers' reputations," she says.

To get a competitive edge, Doyle says the medical communications agencies will have to form strategic alliances with universities. And medical societies, who are in close competition with the universities, will have to further develop their niche, which is to feature the work of its members.

"The CME industry has been grossly affected by the perception physicians have," she says. "I think all providers are going to feel the pressure to step up the academic rigor of their programs."

Alana Klein is Pharmaceutical Executive's senior associate editor. She can be reached at


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