Crash Course for Successful CME Administration
Amber Winter - Director of Sales & Marketing at Web Courseworks
Many associations prioritize providing a great member experience first and foremost, at times allowing administrative challenges to fall to the wayside. However, when it comes to eLearning content administration, it’s worthwhile to optimize your back-end processes— not only will staff members feel better prepared for and secure completing their day-to-day tasks, but members will experience improved service as a result.
There are a plethora of crash courses and educational guides about how to successfully administer eLearning content for association members. However, many of those guides fail to address the unique challenges and roadblocks that healthcare-related associations face, specifically with regard to administering continuing medical education (CME) content.
Web Courseworks’ guide to CME LMS features discusses a number of reasons that administering CME content is especially challenging, including but not limited to stringent content requirements, complex credentialing, and time-consuming credential and licensure reporting processes.
With that in mind, this guide will function as a crash course on the administrative challenges your association may face and the tools and strategies you can use to overcome them. Lastly, the guide will conclude with a few additional tips and strategies to set your association up for success.
Let’s get started.
What are the main challenges that CME administrators face?
Learning professionals who administer CME courses encounter many of the same challenges that those administering general professional development courses face. Just as with professional associations, healthcare-related associations worry about meeting the needs of adult learners, which can affect non-dues revenue, member engagement, and membership numbers overall.
However, learning professionals who administer CME content face a number of unique challenges that arise due to the medical nature of the content they administer.
Complicated Accreditation Reporting
Whether CME, CNE (Continuing Nursing Education), or training for allied health professionals, healthcare associations have stringent reporting requirements. This training is often required, as medical professionals need to complete regular training to attain and maintain licensure and certification.
However, manually generating course completion reports, exporting them from your learning management system (LMS), and then submitting them to the licensing party (such as the Accreditation Council for Continuing Medical Education’s Program and Activity Reporting System, also known as ACCME PARS) can be a time-consuming and complicated endeavor.
Advanced Credit Management
Many healthcare learners are high achievers and therefore, incredibly motivated to continue building upon their professional portfolios with completed continuing education courses.
Because of this, members may have accumulated a plethora of credits, completed both within your LMS and outside of it. When courses completed elsewhere aren’t recorded within your LMS (let alone your AMS, if your LMS isn’t integrated with it), you’ll have an incomplete picture of what learners have done and what they may be interested in going forward. Plus, this scenario can be inconvenient for learners, who have to juggle multiple learning solutions — your LMS and whatever solution they’re using to track their completed credits elsewhere.
Rapid Changes in the Medical Industry
Think of the past two years in the healthcare industry. Over the course of just a few weeks, healthcare professionals were thrust into a situation unlike any they’d ever faced — a pandemic that evolved in real-time, with guidelines changing on a near-daily basis.
In a short time span, your members suddenly needed entirely new training resources to prepare them for the new challenge. And, though we’re now thankfully at a stage where much of the confusion has died down and we can begin recognizing innovative medical professionals for their efforts, that doesn’t mean that healthcare guidelines will remain unchanged for the foreseeable future.
Healthcare guidelines are ever-changing, presenting a unique obstacle for CME administrators who then need to adapt content to align with the latest recommendations.
What tools can help you overcome your CME administrative roadblocks?
The only way to overcome these challenges is by equipping your learning professionals with an effective CME-specific LMS.
Your LMS, and the tools within it, should not only empower your team to simplify course administration but also provide a better experience for members. The following sections discuss three CME-specific tools that can help you overcome the issues noted in the previous section. If your current solution doesn’t have them, it may be time to consider investing in a new one.
Accreditation Reporting Automation
Some CME LMSs are built with ACCME PARS and other accreditation reporting agencies in mind. They include features to drastically simplify the reporting process, including the ability to:
Automatically create reports that align with ACCME PARS requirements.
Give both learners and administrators the ability to submit credits from your LMS to PARS.
Display any accredited courses and learning modules offered by your association.
These capabilities make it easy for not only your administrators, but learners themselves to report on course completion without a large administrative burden. By and large, this is one of the biggest benefits of choosing a CME-specific LMS as opposed to one created for general professional associations.
Advanced Credit Management
Seek out a CME LMS with advanced credit management features, specifically one that grants you the ability to:
Create comprehensive learner profiles that include both credits completed within and outside of the LMS.
Generate certificates and PDF documents corresponding to courses completed.
Monitor course progress and track credits earned.
With a CME-specific LMS, members can access one comprehensive profile that depicts all of their CME progress to date. They can also easily ascertain the best next steps for their professional development, such as if they need to complete CME credits to renew their licensure or pursue a new interest.
And, from an administrative perspective, these features can give you insight into your members’ CME needs. Administrators can use this information to inform discussions with learners, such as providing personalized course recommendations.
By investing in a CME LMS with built-in course and assessment authoring tools, you empower administrators and instructional designers to respond to the rapid rate of change in the medical field. This includes the ability to:
Author multimedia courses, including videos, learning games, hotspots, and drag-and-drop experiences.
Create adaptive content, such as branching courses and adaptive assessments that change to match a learner’s knowledge.
Use question banks to categorize and tag questions, making it easy to reuse questions across content as applicable.
Host proctored and timed exams to align with licensure and certification requirements.
With these features, you’ll not only be able to author entirely new content when relevant but also to revise previous content that’s grown outdated. Members will look to your association first when seeking new training, as opposed to looking elsewhere.
Wrapping Up: Additional Tips for Successful CME Administration
Now that we’ve covered the main challenges that CME administrators can face and the tools that can help your association overcome them, let’s now discuss a few final tips to set your programming up for success.
First and foremost, if your organization is considering investing in a new LMS or otherwise making major changes to your CME programming, consider partnering with an eLearning consulting partner to do so. This partner will bring an unbiased perspective to your project, as well as significant experience working within the eLearning field. They can help you invest in a new LMS, adjust your programming, and more.
Beyond that, be sure to integrate your LMS with your association management software. That way, you can review CME programming data alongside data about all of your association’s other activities, and make decisions about your learning business’s operations with a fully informed perspective.
With those final tips, you should have a strong foundation to begin successfully administering CME courses.
Written By: Amber Winter
Amber Winter is the Director of Sales & Marketing at Web Courseworks. She’s committed to helping association executives realize the potential of their education programs and turn them into high performing revenue generators. Amber was named one of Madison, Wisconsin’s 40 under 40 and the number 1 LMS salesperson by Talented Learning.
Editied By: Edessa Polzin
Edessa Polzin is the Sales & Marketing Manager at Web Courseworks, a company that specializes in learning management and virtual event solutions for associations. She’s committed to helping association executives realize the potential of their education programs and turn them into high performing revenue generators. Edessa is an experienced sales and marketing professional and is the Associate VP of Communications at the American Marketing Association Madison.