Physicians have always made continuing medical education (CME) an important part of their career paths—far in excess of credits required for licensure. But the weight of corporate scandals and increased public scrutiny has placed an additional burden on meeting providers, as they walk the fine line between making events worth doctors' time and adhering to ACCME and OIG guidelines.
Today's physicians are more focused on lifelong learning, according to Marsha Meyer, senior vice president of clinical research at CME LLC. Even for the states that do not require CME credits for licensing, attendance is consistently strong, she says. "Physicians know science is cranking out new treatments at an incredible rate and their focus is on lifelong learning—not putting in seat time."
"While there has been a marked increase [50 percent] in online CME in the last two years, this has not been at the expense of live meetings," says Anne Goodrich, Pri-Med's research director. Online learning is really a complement to live meeting attendance, she says.
"Our studies show that the majority of physicians want to be educated in a live forum," Lotvin says. "Physicians like the opportunity for interpersonal interaction with colleagues and speakers, and often, the questions that come up in a live meeting are as interesting as the talk itself."
While Lotvin acknowledges the important roles of distance learning, he thinks e-learning and satellite conferences don't fully replicate the live learning environment customers want. "Live learning is the way they have learned in the past; it's interactive and a more intellectually stimulating way of learning," he says.