3 Ways Positive CME Outcomes Benefit Hospitals
For physician learners, CME participation is a given. They’ve got to complete CME to satisfy a professional mandate. But physicians and their patients aren’t the only ones who benefit from CME. High quality CME activities – and, in particular, the high quality CME outcomes resulting from those activities – hold significant benefits for healthcare institutions.
Shorter hospital stays, fewer readmissions, and higher patient experience scores are three of these advantages. Let’s explore each one in greater depth.
1. Shorter hospital stays
In an American Medical Association (AMA) article about targeted CME, Sara Berg dubs these three advantages “hospital goals” and lists a few types of CME activities that can help learners (and hospitals, of course) achieve them. One of those activities, delivered as enduring content, has to do with health coaching. Specifically, the activity shows learners how health coaches can help patients with chronic conditions manage certain aspects of their own care.
Quality coaching empowers these patients to exert more control over their health, an undeniable positive outcome. It can also reduce the amount of time they spend in the hospital.
How does all of this benefit health providers? Quality CME content packaged in a readily available online activity helps physicians provide tangible health improvements to patients with chronic conditions. Over the long term, healthier patients need less medical intervention, which frees up resources for those with more pressing care needs.
2. Fewer readmissions
Unsurprisingly, the same type of CME activity that reduces lengths of stay also reduces the need to return to the hospital. But the health coach activity is far from the only type of CME resulting in auspicious outcomes for healthcare institutions.
For another example, look no further than University of Minnesota Health’s quality improvement efforts. They include a CME program that involves teams of learners focused on a specific hospital objective, such as lowering readmissions. Held as a series of live meetings, the program strives to satisfy universally expected CME outcomes targets as well as a specific hospital performance goal.
Reducing the need for hospital stays is also a positive macro-level outcome that reflects Stage 7 of Moore’s Outcomes Taxonomy: Community Health. A healthier community, after all, suffers from fewer conditions that require the assistance of medical professionals. Fewer people become patients in the first place – and fewer still need to be readmitted.
3. Higher marks from patients
Berg’s article mentions another type of CME activity about “appreciative inquiry.” In this activity, learners discover strategies for evaluating strengths and weaknesses in their practice and among their colleagues. The idea is to identify opportunities for improvement. In other words, learners find out how to create the optimal patient experience through critical evaluation of the status quo.
A better experience, of course, results in higher quality scores in patient evaluations. And higher marks from patients can elevate the standing of a healthcare institution. This benefit, like shorter stays and fewer readmissions, benefits hospitals as much as the patients the hospital serves.
Does your CME technology enable these outcomes?
Ultimately, the “how” of CME matters just as much as the “what.” To position your organization to reap the rewards of positive CME outcomes, you need to implement systems that make high quality CME easy to create, manage, deliver, and optimize. Technology plays a major role here.
To fully realize positive CME outcomes and measure them to the greatest extent possible, your CME learning management system (LMS) must:
- Make CME accessible by delivering all types of activities, from enduring content to webinars to learner self-management for live events
- Support outcomes reporting through automated distribution and collection of post-activity learner surveys
- Gather quality learner and activity data that helps you link CME performance to long-term organizational performance
There’s a reason why the ACCME increasingly emphasizes CME outcomes among accredited providers. They want your CME efforts – the activities you and your learners have invested in – to have a positive return for patients, physicians, healthcare institutions, and communities.
The right combination of quality CME and capable technology can help you get there.