ONLINE VERSUS FACE-TO-FACE LEARNING
When it comes to getting their certified continuing medical education, Choi said that, while residents and new practitioners
tend to attend a lot of national conferences, "I've evolved more into doing what's convenient." He added, "Those who have
little kids like to do a couple hours of online CME after tucking the kids into bed. Now with transparency about paying for
costs related to meetings, you'll see even more [physician education] moving online."
Bazzo added, "As adults we have different learning styles—some strictly like face-to-face meetings, others online learning,
and others like to read journals. I think you're still going to get the full gamut. In California, you have to have at least
25 hours of CME per year—for those in specialties, that number generally doubles." Large national meetings keep the issue
of financial relationships at arm's length, he said, because "You can't tie an individual's name to an exhibitor or unrestricted
In terms of transparency and CME, he said the Accreditation Council for CME already requires full disclosure and resolution
of any potential conflicts of interest involving financial relationships with pharmaceutical companies. "So reporting isn't
a problem as long as the conflicts are resolved," said Bazzo. Kusske added that, now that the ACCME is raising the fee providers
must pay to be accredited, "Many smaller hospitals are no longer providing accredited CME. This will shift the burden—you'll
see more people in these environments going to Web presentations."
Whether it's CME, promotional events, or investigator meetings, the era of transparency in financial relationships has arrived,
and none of the physicians believed this trend would reverse direction any time soon. Does this mean that docs might be willing
to pay for their education in order to make the whole point moot?
In a word, no. Bazzo said that there would be a big drop-off if physicians had to pay for their education. "You're paying
for their time," he said. "If the benefit doesn't equal their satisfaction rate, they won't go." Choi was even more direct:
"No one's going to go if they have to pay!"