The Rievent Blog

Exploring the latest developments in continuing professional
education and LMS technologies.

The Future of CME Administration: Less Admin, More Data

by The Rievent Team

If you’ve ever wondered how to access information about continuing medical education (CME) activities, consult your CME director. That’s the person who knows how many CME activities your organization offers, what those activities cover, and how many learners are participating.

Basically, CME directors have their finger on the pulse of all things CME. It’s their job, and it always has been.

But for many directors, automation is transforming day-to-day responsibilities. Thanks to learning management technologies developed specifically for continuing professional education, many CME administrators are completing more tasks faster. They’re also transferring some tasks to individual learners – tasks like printing certificates and accessing transcripts.

The result is a drastically reduced administrative workload, and that’s a good thing. After all, spending less time on time-consuming administration helps administrators focus on what matters most: developing valuable, effective CME activities.

What do most CME directors do?

If you’re a CME director, you probably wear several hats. In a given week, you might spend time:

  • Organizing learner participation data into spreadsheets
  • Collating attendance sheets from live meetings
  • Fielding email and phone requests from learners
  • Updating online information about live meetings
  • Managing speakers, authors, and contributors for CME content

And that just scratches the surface. You’re busy, but a lot of what you do doesn’t necessarily require your extensive training and education. It’s the “gotta do it” administrative stuff. Nobody particularly enjoys it, but it needs to get done.

The problem with these repetitive exercises is that they prevent you from doing more of the work you’d like to be doing:

  • Working with subject matter experts to design new CME activities
  • Analyzing data and using it to make changes to existing CME activities or develop new ones
  • Identifying patterns in learner evaluation responses and acting on suggestions
  • Presenting your CME activities to new and existing audiences
  • Building a business case for specific CME objectives  so you can get buy-in from decision makers
  • Connecting with learners to identify new CME opportunities for your organization
  • Growing your organization and expanding your suite of CME offerings

More CME administrators are asking how they can spend more of their time this way, and technology is providing the answers. Thanks to fully integrated learning management systems (LMSs) that include administrator and learner interfaces, you  can automate away many of their most time-consuming tasks.

But you’ve got to know what kind of LMS to look for.

Administrators and learners connect via the same platform

What if you could log in to one platform, add some information about a CME activity, and not have to look at that activity again – possibly even for months? You’d probably have a lot more time for those meaningful, mission-oriented tasks you’ve been meaning to get around to.

That’s what a CME-focused LMS can deliver. Every time you:

  • Add content to an activity, learners can log in and view it.
  • Set up a live event, learners can register and claim credit on their own; the event will expire and disappear from your website automatically.
  • Need to view attendance numbers, you can grab them in just a few clicks.
  • Receive a request for a transcript or certificate, you can refer the learner to their account; before long, you’ll stop receiving so many requests.
  • Want to view evaluation responses for an activity, you can quickly access all of them at once.
  • Need to validate an activity’s efficacy by examining outcomes, you can view responses to the post-activity outcomes survey that you set up when you created the activity.
  • Sit down to organize ACCME PARS data, you grab a single XML file containing all the data and upload it to the PARS website in a matter of minutes.

Basically, you and your learners are using two different interfaces within the same LMS. When you add content or post an event, they see it and take the appropriate action. When they complete a CME activity or generate participation data, you have access to that information immediately.

When the technology works like this, CME directors can take a load off.

And after they’ve put their feet up for awhile, they can start devoting that extra time to educational design and tasks that advance their organization’s CME programs.

Relieving you of administrative duties isn’t the only benefit of a CME-focused LMS, though. The right LMS will also collect large quantities of valuable data about every CME activity, putting you in the driver’s seat when it’s time to make important decisions.

The data-savvy CME director

An LMS with integrated reporting tools empowers CME administrators with valuable, actionable data. It’s all tied into your learners’ experience – as they complete tasks, the software collects data in the background – so it’s available for you to use the moment it’s available.

Best case scenario? Your LMS shows you data in real time. You can monitor what your learners are doing right now.

Basically, it should be easy for an administrator to pull reports on any critical metric. How many learners completed an activity; how well they scored on tests; how positively they rated an activity; the type (job category) of learners who participated – these are just a few of the things you should be able to monitor on an ongoing basis.

For live events, you should also be able to view registration, attendance, and payment figures. Data can get as granular as you like. For instance, maybe you want to see what category of learners is most (or least) well-represented at certain types of events. This is the sort of information you can access right away.

And you can use the knowledge to inform your efforts going forward.

Less admin and more data makes CME smarter.

The future is bright for CME administrators. With less time and fewer resources needed for repetitive and time-consuming administration, managers can make CME more responsive to learners’ needs. They’ll have the flexibility to develop new activities that are relevant and valuable. They’ll also enhance their ability to grow their organizations and connect with more learners.

And with expanded access to valuable data, they’ll be able to meet those objectives with greater precision than ever.

To be sure, selecting the right type of LMS is critical. Administrators must have the appropriate technologies in place if they’re to realize all of these transformative advantages. A single, integrated application with distinct learner and administrator interfaces is the place to start. CME is unique, and your LMS should accommodate its special nuances and requirements.

Before long, you’ll wonder why you spent so much time poring over spreadsheets. And your learners? They’ll just be thrilled with your CME.