Can Your CME Manager Do This?
How did CME administrators get by in the “old days?” You know, the era before they used dedicated CME software?
For starters, there were paper files – lots of paper files. There were also staplers, stamps, and typewriters. Things still got done, but they didn’t get done very quickly.
Nowadays, nearly all CME providers use some kind of software to manage events, track learner participation, and store learner records. You might use a CME manager to handle these functions today. Without it, you’d be using lots of spreadsheets.
Unless, that is, you’re still using lots of spreadsheets. And other applications for eCommerce, authoring, reporting, evaluations…
Because here’s the thing:
The typical CME manager lacks many critical functions.
It’s not that CME management or tracking software is useless. Depending on what your organization uses, you might enjoy features like:
- Viewing learner participation lists for certain activities
- Session builders for live events
- Event registration lists
- History of learner requests for documentation
But while these things are nice to have, they don’t even begin to cover the variety of tasks that CME administrators perform every day.
Case in point: Learner participation lists . They’re great to have around, but they probably don’t show you how many activities a learner has completed, whether he or she prefers online (enduring) activities to live events, or whether that learner completed an evaluation of each activity.
If you’re a CME administrator, you need those details to create activities that meet learners’ needs for topical relevance and workplace applicability. You need data, and you need it quickly. You also need to minimize non-educational interactions with learners, like requests for transcripts or questions about how to use the website.
Unfortunately, your CME manager probably isn’t helping. As useful as it is for some things, there are other tasks – really important tasks – that it simply wasn’t built to handle.
CME software should support all of your activities.
For some CME software, it’s all about live events. An application might let you do things like track registration and associate attendance with learner profiles. These are nice features if CME live events are your sole focus.
But there are lots of CME activity types today.
Your organization might host live meetings and also offer webinars, online enduring materials, and manuscript review CME. Does your CME manager support those other activities and integrate the registration and eCommerce functionality needed for live events?
Probably not. In all likelihood, you’re using multiple applications (or none at all) to support different types of CME. However, when you do opt for a platform that can handle all of your CME, you can:
- Manage all activities from one location. Maybe you need to post a new live event, publish a recorded webinar, and modify evaluation questions for an enduring activity. You can do that from one place – and all at once – without clicking around to different applications to get it done.
- Automate credit processing for any activity type. When you use an application that supports all your CME activities, that application should be able to process and award all credit types for all activities to all learners. It doesn’t need to be a manual exercise.
- Add existing content to any activity. Upload a new PDF as a journal-based activity or add video to a new enduring activity. Or do both, without logging out and accessing different software for different tasks.
Basically, you should be able to handle all fundamental CME administration for any activity using a single piece of software. Your software can be comprehensive; it doesn’t have to focus on just one activity type.
Learners can – and should – handle some administration themselves.
That’s right. Learners. They’re the ones who should be doing things like accessing participation history, printing transcripts, viewing test scores, registering for events, selecting activities, and submitting credit claims.
If your CME manager doesn’t have a learner interface, it can’t help with these tasks.
Instead, you end up devoting substantial time and energy to relatively straightforward, but tedious, administrative exercises. That’s why your CME software – in addition to supporting all CME types – should offer a learner interface. Learners should have the ability to manage their own CME experience using the same platform that you use to build and deliver activities.
Ideally, the software will empower your learners to:
- Select, register for, and complete CME activities: The learner interface should make it easy for learners to complete these tasks without direct communication with CME administrators.
- Complete pre-tests (if applicable), post-tests, and evaluations: These functions are a seamless part of the learner experience. They’re “built-in” parts of the activity interface.
- Access complete participation history: Any time a learner wants to view his or her CME participation history, it should be easy to log in and do so. In addition to viewing activities completed, learners should be able to see test results and print certificates or transcripts.
One way think of CME software is as a platform with two “faces:” the administrator area where you manage activities and the learner area where healthcare professionals view, select, pay for, and, when they’re online, participate in activities.
One platform, two experiences. But there’s a key way in which both experiences work together to the benefit of CME learners and providers.
CME software should automatically collect learner and activity data.
What if you could generate data every time a learner takes some kind of action – registering for an activity, say, or completing an evaluation – and view that data in the form of an on-demand report?
Let’s take things a step further. What if you could view a variety of reports on a host of learner actions, at the level of an individual activity or in aggregate?
You might think it’s not possible, at least not with your current CME manager. But it is possible with a comprehensive platform where learner-facing and administrator-facing functions work hand in hand. If you’re a CME provider, the value is compelling:
- Activity data is available for viewing and downloading in real-time; view new data as it unfolds.
- Drill down into data at a granular level; for example, you see details like activity completion by learner type, revenue generated by specific live events, and whether learners rated activities positively. Those are just a few of many possibilities, of course.
- Generate PARS data automatically; that way, you’ve got an XML file that’s ready for uploading to the ACCME PARS website. No more manual data collection for PARS.
- Export data to a CSV (Excel) file or view it within the software, with graphical representations of the data.
With access to data like this, we’ve come a long way from paper files and manual spreadsheet collation! But not all CME software takes things to this level. A lot of applications stop short of providing a comprehensive learner-provider platform.
They stop short of being a complete CME learning management system (LMS).
A CME specific LMS is your bridge to smarter, more streamlined CME.
Administrator interface, learner controls, reports, support for all activities, eCommerce… These aren’t the tools that come with a standard CME manager – they’re the features of a fully-integrated CME-centric LMS. The difference between a CME LMS and software that just helps you plan and schedule is that a CME LMS was built to do what it says it does: manage learning.
And in the CME world, “managing learning” is a multi-faceted concept.
It covers everything from activity creation to activity delivery, learner self-service, and reporting. A CME LMS bridges the gap between “what your CME technology can’t do yet” and “what’s possible.” For many CME providers, it quickly becomes the bedrock of administrative operations. Just ask them.
In the end, a CME LMS is a tool you use not only to stay organized, but to stay informed about your learners’ CME experience and eliminate tedious administration. With valuable data in hand, you can make smarter business decisions. The more data you collect (and act upon), the more effective your CME becomes. It’s a virtuous cycle.
Why not explore further?