Continuing Physician Education: A Key Lynchpin in Quality Care

AUG 27

In doing some recent research regarding the latest innovations in decision support tools, I ran across a 2005 article published in the American College of Physicians.  Their report found that while it may seem intuitive that the most-clinically experienced doctors provide the best care to patients, the number of years in practice does not always correlate to providing the “best” care.

In fact, they found an “inverse relationship between the number of years that a physician has been in practice and the quality of care that the physician provides.” This study asserted that doctors should continuously update and supplement their ‘medical knowledge base’ to ensure that they are properly equipped with the most contemporary medical information and findings as well as best practices to provide patients with the optimal level of care.

It’s not controversial to state the informed doctors, those with the most recent and relevant medical information are best suited to asses, treat, and prescribe the appropriate course of care for patients.  They’re connectedness to current research, studies, and practices for treating patients and recommending care plans is directly correlated to their time spent collaborating with colleagues, accessing online resources and furthering their medical education.

Continuing Medical Education (CME) is required for state licensure and was a $2 billion industry in 2009.  Curiously, we’re finding a disconnect between what physicians may find as informative and versus a more structured approach to identifying a curriculum to best help them improve the care they are providing.  Innovative, technology-enabled CME companies are using analytics to align both curriculum and performance-improvement tools to:

  • Educates physicians
  • Analyzes their practice patterns, and
  • Identifies areas where additional training or educational information may help bolster a specific area of knowledge for the doctor, and ultimately improve the care he or she provides.

Ensuring doctors are properly prepared to provide effective, outcome-driven care is priority for physicians, hospitals and IDNs, but requires tech-enabled coordination between physicians, faculty, patients and other vendors.

Will the social-media centric physician networking tools like Vitals and PPN step forward to play a role in physician education?  As the quality of education improves and innovation continues, look for more insights from our team in this area.

Until then, let us know what you think.

Jamie Lockhart
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