Here’s How to Increase Virtual CME Participation
For CME or CE providers who used to host live meetings, how engaging are virtual activities by comparison? It’s a question many are asking a year after the coronavirus pandemic forced providers to virtualize their CME/CE offerings.
In a CE Outcomes survey from last year, the data on virtual meeting participation wasn’t very encouraging:
“[…] CE Outcomes included follow-up questions to assess if specialists had yet engaged in an online national or international meeting, with 1/3 reporting that they had, 21% reporting they had the opportunity but chose not to participate, and 46% reporting they had not yet had the opportunity to participate. Of those that have participated, just over ½ reported the content was much or slightly worse than the live version of the meeting (52%), while 23% reported it was about the same as the live meeting. For those that had the opportunity but chose not to participate, 40% reported they did not have time to participate and 28% reported that the cost of online participation was too high.”
Ok, so the most problematic data points are:
- A majority of clinicians either choosing not to participate in online meetings or not having the opportunity to do so
- Most online CE participants reporting that the content was deficient compared to in-person presentations
- A large number of respondents claiming they lacked the time to participate
These insights are troubling, especially since providers have been forced to deliver their CME/CE activities virtually. Thankfully, none of this has to be destiny.
CME/CE technologies can help solve these problems.
They can, but you’ve got to have the right systems in place. First, let’s consider…
Increasing your virtual CME/CE participation
This was one of the bigger problems revealed by the survey. Most respondents either weren’t participating (even though they had the option) or didn’t have the option at all. To be fair, those responses were from July 2020 and may be different if the same survey was conducted in 2021. But let’s address the problem as if it were the same.
Last year at Rievent, we watched many providers transition to online/virtual CME and CE activities out of pure necessity. They went about it in different ways:
- Integrating virtual meeting software with Rievent so that learners could attend complex annual meetings presented virtually
- Delivering simple single session, live webinars instead of more complex virtual meetings
- Recording and repurposing the CME/CE webinars and virtual meetings into enduring activities
While different providers certainly had different experiences, their online CME platform made it as easy as possible for learners to participate.
That’s because Rievent gave them options for delivering the same content. Learners could either attend the live meeting or webinar the same way they used to, or they could pick a time on their own schedule to watch the recorded sessions. Either way, they were able to complete the activity.
There simply wouldn’t be any reason for learners to report that they didn’t have the opportunity to participate.
Maintaining CME content quality
When you’re delivering CME via a virtual meeting or live webinar, there’s no reason for content quality to suffer. While we can only speculate as to why so many respondents said that their online CME/CE had quality deficiencies, it’s probable that providers were scrambling to provide some sort of CME experience with limited resources and cumbersome technologies.
In other words, they probably weren’t set up for online CME. When you’re just “using what you’ve got,” it might not be enough to meet learners’ high expectations.
Live and recorded virtual meetings and/or webinars give you the same opportunity to present the same content that you’d present in a live meeting. With Rievent, these presentations integrate directly with CME activities, so your learners can absorb the same material and complete the same assessments that you would otherwise provide in person.
Giving learners time to participate
Here’s where the recorded meetings are really valuable. A live meeting is typically a one-shot deal. You either attend, or you don’t. A recorded CME meeting or webinar, on the other hand, provides learners with incredible flexibility.
Instead of participating on your time, learners can participate on their time.
They can access the CME meeting or webinar any time, on any device. With Rievent, you can even give them the option to pause the activity and return to it later. That way, if a learner started watching the webinar on her lunch break, she can continue watching it on the train ride home. Then she can complete an assessment the next morning over coffee.
Not having the time to participate is a common problem among CME and CE learners. With a platform built around their schedules, not the provider’s schedule, that can change in a flash.
Conclusion: A learner-focused CME experience is the best CME experience.
Most CE/CME learners are used to one-off meetings, buggy CME software, and limited options for online content. But if you put them first and provide options that cater to their busy schedules, limited free time for learning, and expectations for technology, you can get participation to a comfortable level.
That means making your CME experience a learner-focused experience.
Learners will know that you’re the one to come to for CME. And they’ll have no reason not to take advantage of the virtual options you provide for them.
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