The evolution of CME

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Published: 17 Dec 2014
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Lawrence Sherman - Senior Vice President of Prova Education

Lawrence Sherman talks to ecancertv at the European CME (Continuing Medical Education) forum about his work in CME and the way he has seen it evolve over the past twenty years.

I’ve been working in continuing medical education for about twenty years so I’ve watched the evolution on many continents, in many countries and through many leaders. So I bring an interesting perspective, despite looking very young I bring some experience to the table.

What are the most interesting developments you have seen over the last few years?

I’ve enjoyed in the US watching the improvement of the quality of the providers and the ACCME really working very hard to make the accreditation process prove that the organisations that are accredited, regardless of the type of organisation that they are, that they’re truly educators. So that’s been fun to watch. It’s very interesting to watch how other countries and other continents have been changing and adapting to the evolving industry supported CME requirements because there is so much more complexity to it when you involve commercial support, that’s been interesting. The ability to improve the quality of education and to measure the impact has been growing worldwide. So those are things that are really good, to me, and it’s fun to watch so that we can actually say it’s not just ten meeting planners who are putting together some conference somewhere but it’s education based on needs using good solid educational design and the impact is being measured and, depending on the result, good or bad, the next education is being designed.

What are the main things that European providers can learn from their North American counterparts?

The processes in place in the US help the providers to ensure that what they’re developing is truly independent and truly educationally focussed. So learning from some of the processes that we have in place is big. Just in the last session today, the end session, there was a discussion about disclosure, conflict of interest and bias and this comes up all the time. When I related what the US process was with a two-step model, the comment was made, “Well, we only have a one-step model here.” Your question is perfect, it’s what could the European providers do? They can apply a process that adds more clarity to disclosure and conflict of interest, even if it’s not proscribed.

What are your thoughts on commercially sponsored CME?

That was one of the two recent ACCME commissioned and distributed documents. What it said was, upon review of the evidence there was no proof to either support or refute the fact that commercial support influences or causes bias. And I believe that because in the US the processes that are in place, nothing can be guaranteed, but are meant to ensure that there’s independence. Because if you follow those guidelines it’s really impossible for there to be influence.

What do you think are the take-home messages coming from the meeting?

When somebody back home asks me what I got out of this, I think what was very interesting was some of the dialogue about the EC and their involvement in and position on CME and UEMS-EACCME and where they’re headed, where they are now and where they’re headed, I think that was pretty big. I think I was surprised at the continued lack of clarity about conflict of interest and disclosure because those are things that are very straightforward. There’s a definition and this is how it can be applied and this is how it can be done. So it surprises me that that’s one of those things that continue.

The other was, again along those lines, the lack of clarity about what the European Sunshine Act will be and how it will be different from the US Sunshine Act and how there was some confusion, even among the folks here who self-selected come to a meeting because they’re interested, but about what’s currently in place. So it’s always interesting to me to see what needs continue and I’m glad that there’s a place that they can go and ask those questions.