These Automation Opportunities Are Transforming Continuing Professional Education
Many providers of continuing professional education (CE) face a daunting array of administrative responsibilities. From processing CE credits to assessing the impact of education programs, just managing day-to-day tasks often means time-consuming tedium with no shortage of opportunities for errors.
The situation isn’t much better for CE learners. Registering for courses or accessing participation records could involve sending multiple emails, making multiple phone calls, and waiting for hours – or even days.
Thankfully, technology is rapidly improving how CE providers and learners operate. Providers are automating many time-consuming administrative processes. What’s more, they’re increasingly enabling learners to manage their own CE experience, including tasks like registration and certificate retrieval.
New technologies help CE providers work faster – and smarter
At the American Academy of Neurology, automation is helping continuing medical education (CME) staff build better education programs for members. And that’s especially true when it comes to performing mission-critical administrative tasks.
Each year, the Academy prepares a detailed report for its accrediting body. Normally, gathering the necessary data would be a time-consuming process, but technology is changing all of that. “What used to take four or five hours,” said one editor, in reference to the Academy’s annual reporting responsibilities, became a “one-click event” thanks to the organization’s new CME software.
The need for detailed reports spans all professions that require practitioners to participate in continuing professional education. Providers use reporting data to inform changes to course offerings and curricula. They also use reports to maintain their accreditation status and process credits for learners.
Additional potential for automation exists in processes like:
- Building online courses or activities: With the right activity-building tools in place, CE administrators can create an end-to-end learner experience in a matter of minutes! They can add content, post-test questions, activity evaluations, and virtually any other elements that they already deliver (or would like to deliver) to participating learners.
- Credit processing: Learners are accumulating credits, and it’s up to providers to ensure those learners receive what they’ve earned. Software that’s built for CE can process credits and update learner accounts automatically, eliminating virtually all administrator involvement.
- Configuring user accounts and permission settings: Many CE providers employ multiple staff members with varying roles and responsibilities. CE management software, when correctly configured, can help all of these individuals access the aspects of CE administration for which they’re responsible.
- Accessing reports on virtually any metric: The beauty of reporting is that modern CE software automatically collects and organizes the requisite data on the back end. Administrators barely have to lift a finger to access detailed, highly granular reports! Applications that focus on a certain type of CE might offer standardized reports for CE administrators in that domain. For example, the Rievent Platform offers a library of standard reports for CME providers.
- Generating certificates and transcripts: Before adopting a CE management application, many providers prepared learner certificates and transcripts using manual processes. Now they barely have to think about those tasks anymore. The software generates those documents in the background.
Of course, CE administrators aren’t the only ones who benefit from continuing education software. Automation also extends to learners, enabling numerous advantages through self-service tools and “smart” activity management options.
Automation enhances the learner experience
For PLICO, a liability insurance carrier that provides CME to insureds, learners used to jump through numerous hoops just to submit post-activity evaluations. “We depended on learners to keep up with nine pieces of paper so they could submit evaluations,” said Shari Moore, the company’s VP of Risk Management.
But automation is changing everything. Now PLICO’s learners can complete evaluations immediately following a session and on the device of their choice. By embracing the latest technologies, PLICO was able to upgrade the learner experience.
PLICO’s story isn’t unique, though. When providers transition to a CE-focused learning management system (LMS), they enable a wide array of self-service tools and automatic, “set it and forget it” options for learners. Some of those include:
- A searchable activity and events catalog: Instead of using multiple systems to register learners or relying on manual registration protocol, the right LMS will allow learners to browse courses and events on their own time and complete registration themselves. With eCommerce features, learners can even pay for attendance or for access to online activities.
- Certificate and transcript retrieval: An online dashboard allows learners to easily access certificates or transcripts for any CE activities completed through the provider’s LMS. In the Rievent Platform, the Learning Portal offers this functionality, as well as access to complete participation history.
- Post-activity access to content and the ability to resume activities in progress: Sometimes, learners need to access the content for activities completed in the past. Maybe they need to re-read a journal article, or maybe they want to review the information presented in an on-demand CE webinar. Whatever the case, a CE-focused LMS will make it easy for them to access this content and even resume activities that they haven’t completed yet!
The transformation is far from complete
For CE providers who embrace it, technology is definitely having a transformative effect on day-to-day operations and enabling smarter, more effective course content. And for learners, more automation means faster time-to-completion for CE activities, greater access to participation records, and less waiting around for things to happen.
At Rievent, one thing we hear from nearly all of our clients is that our software makes them “look good” for their learners. It just makes the entire learner-side CE experience simpler and more gratifying.
But for many providers and learners, the transformation is far from complete. Manual processes reign supreme at many organizations, and multiple, un-integrated technologies can make it difficult for providers to maintain adequate control over CE administration.
For these providers, our message is simple: continuing education administration doesn’t have to be tedious. It can be easy – and even empowering! All it takes is a willingness to try something new.
Oh, and the ROI? Think greater learner satisfaction, increased participation, and more time and data for improving education programs over the long term. Technology doesn’t just make you look good for learners – although it definitely can! – it also makes you better at what you already do best.