Professional Tips for Continuing Medical Education (CME) or e-learning Content Development -
Interesting strategies, find out more

Professional Tips for Continuing Medical Education (CME) or e-learning Content Development

With the trend towards digital and e-resources for professional development, the need for Continuing Medical Education (CME) or e-learning content for health care providers is on the rise.

According to the ACCME Data Report: Growth and Evolution in Continuing Medical Education — 2016, "more than 1,800 accredited CME providers offered close to 159,000 educational activities in 2016. CME Education comprised more than 1 million hours of instruction and included interactions with 27 million healthcare professionals."

The Accreditation Council for Continuing Medical Education (ACCME) defines CMEs as consisting "of educational activities which serve to maintain, develop, or increase the knowledge, skills, and professional performance and relationships that a physician uses to provide services for patients, the public, or the profession."

In simple terms, CMEs are a set of questions designed to find out if readers learned from the educational content presented. For those who provide health care services, continuing education is a must.

CMEs helps health care providers keep abreast of clinical recommendations, updates related to patient treatment and professional development resources.

To help with the development of CME or e-learning content, we outline tips from decades of CME content development.

These tips have been harnessed mainly from organizations such as The Medical Letter and the ACCME.

1. Use Templates

As a CME provider, it helps to maintain template sections (labeled fixed in your template) across published CME content. Template creation with fixed sections help save time and resources and include sections on,

- Accreditation and equivalent credits (Fixed in your template) - Get accreditation from relevant bodies for credit equivalents. This increases the diversity and numbers of those who may need and 'take' your course. The template is subject to change if new accreditation bodies or credit equivalents are added.

- Ideal Audience (Fixed in your template, subject to change) - who needs your content or who does your CME content serve/educate? Do you provide online access?

- Company Mission (Fixed in your template) - What need does your company aim to fill? What does it cover, what is the overall theme?

- CME Provider Goals (Fixed in your template) - What can your audience do with your content, What is the extended benefit?

- Exam Requirements - Provide information on the requirements for passing the course and the exam frequency

- CME Learning Objectives (Varies with the subject) - What features does your CME program have. What are the take-home messages? Upon completion of the program, what does your CME program enable them to do?

For learning objectives, make clear what the participant should achieve at the end of the CME program or e-learning course. Possible learning objectives include the following.

Upon completion, the participant should be able to,

i. Review the efficacy and safety (efficacy, dosage, drug interactions, potential adverse effects, cost) of drugs for the treatment of conditions discussed in the CME program

ii. Review recommendations for prescriptions

iii. Explain the current approach to management of patients with a health condition.

iv. Determine the best option for treatment based off a clinical presentation

v. Discuss options available for treatment and potential comparisons

2. What Kind of CME Content Can My Company Develop?

According to the ACCME, the following content can be created as part of CME education.

  • Management, for physicians responsible for managing a healthcare facility
  • Educational methodology, for physicians teaching in a medical school
  • Practice management, for physicians interested in providing better service to patients
  • Coding and reimbursement in a medical practice

The Medical Letter focuses on CME content to educate healthcare providers on the Clinical Management with FDA approved drugs and off-label drug use.

3. Tips for Development of CME Questions

The following tips have led to immense success among seasoned CME providers:

i. Use short sentences

ii. Use multiple choice questions and limit the options, not more than five. From a service provider perspective, working with systems are more effective for the client and the professional contributor.

Most CME providers use a set number of questions, contributors can use the existing framework from previous CMEs.

iii. Align the questions to take-home messages from the CME program. For questions that accompany CME educational content, match the questions with the take-home points from the content presented.

iv. Ask specific questions - Avoid the use of double negatives and vague questions such as, “All of the following are correct EXCEPT” or “Which of the following is NOT correct?” or “Which of the following statements is true?”

v. Aim for clarity in the use of distractors.

vi. Provide answers to the CME questions and data to support (if the answer to the questions are within the educational content presented before the CME content, refer to the location).

Note: To encourage continuity or a return path for CME takers, you can provide the answers to the present CME questions in the next issue.

Recommended Resources for Developing CME Content

4. Add a privacy clause and conflict of interest, if any.

The privacy clause should be a fixed part of your template. Declare all grant funding and extended sources of potential bias from contributors and the CME-provider.

5. Add Information Technology Requirements

Is your CME program and the exam accessible on mobile devices or only desktop?

6. Add a phone number or email address

Be available and reachable with a phone number or an email address to which your audience can reach out.

7. Add a note on the credit expiry dates.

Indicate how long the CME credit is viable for accreditation credits?

8. Miscellaneous - add other instructions or information.

- contributors (Fixed in your template, varies with the contributors)

- copyright and disclaimer clause (Fixed in your template, adjust where needed especially with the GDPR onset)

- customer service information (Fixed in your template)

- other company Offers - subscriptions and packages (Fixed in your template)

- callouts to connect or like page on social media (Fixed in your template)

9. Promote your CME or e-learning content

A. Word of mouth publicity - Ask present CME or e-learning course takers to refer friends and colleagues for discounts.

B. Collaborate with,

i. Influencers in your niche or a related field - Do a quick search for active physicians and medical colleagues on social media and ask for a shout out.

ii. Accreditations Bodies - Request to be mentioned on their website for potential CME interest.

iii. Associations of Health Care Providers for more publicity

iv. Utilize the National and International Health Days. Energize your visibility with article publications (blog posts) and social media post on national and international health days. This can be automated, such that the flow to social media channels is automatic.

For help with technical writing and development of CME questions, please click the purple message icon to your right. 

For help with publicity for your CME programs, please go here.

Energize the visibility of your Continuing Medical Education Programs with article publications (blog posts) and social media posts.

Click to Tweet