Changes to CME and Speaking Engagements

For years, I have unintentionally made the rounds of the pediatric speakers circuit, as many of you know.  I enjoy the public speaking process simply because I learn so much and all of my best “material” comes from either being in an office or in front of an audience.

In all immodesty, I think I give pretty good talks.  Don’t get me wrong, I could improve 1001 things (just ask 1/2 the folks reading here), but my data is often quite enlightening and I like to think I’m pretty funny. Funnier than most pediatric speakers, anyway, which isn’t saying much.  And it doesn’t hurt that the number of people in this country who really can speak well on the matters of pediatric practice management is under a dozen, imo.

As a result, I get a lot of offers to speak, which is both flattering and helpful for my job.  Usually, because so few pediatric organizations have any real budget, I am happy to exchange my speaking effort for, say, a booth at the event and my room to be covered so my family can come with me – freeing up $$ for them to get other speakers or even stay alive.

Over the years, I bet I’ve spoken for at least 10 of the state AAP chapters, more than a dozen hospital systems, and even the AAP itself.  I think most people reading here have seen me at one of these events and it’s always great to meet someone in person for the first time.

But I have a feeling those talks are coming to an end.  At least the CME-related ones.

Over the past few years, I’ve had some interesting discussions with a handful of CME-producing events about me, my materials, etc., each of which was borne from the changes to the CME rules.  Apparently, with the new rules, anything I produce is verboten for CME purposes simply because I work for a “commercial” interest.  Even though PCC is, perhaps, the sole (or best) source for certain pediatric content in the world, we can’t share it with you for CME purposes.  Nor can we suggest to anyone anything that we’ve learned as a result of working with real doctors.

But it gets worse.  Attached, please find the oral testimony of Dr. Murray Kopelow, the CEO for AACME, the people who manage the CME process.  Read it carefully, there are some doozies in there.  Now, I may misunderstand what I read here and I certainly welcome comments, corrections, and contradictions…but how are these changes going to benefit the education of physicians, exactly?

– With the doubling of CME fees and greater (and let me suggest from my experience: ridiculous and inappropriate) scrutiny of those providing it, I think most small time CME providers are going to bai outl.  The bottom line is that the costs associated with providing CMEs have already moved past the benefit of doing so, as a rule.  Do CMEs really put that many butts in the seats?  In the pediatric world, I don’t see it.

The people left will be the giants, the big CME machines.  Is that really what CME wants?

– Why is any content developed with the influence of commercial interests automatically unworthy of CME?  By implication, the rejection of my material means that I’m somehow inappropriately influencing people?  That’s not only insulting (I’ll get over it), but stupid.

The secondary effect of this position is that the quality of CME speakers and content will drop.  I’ve been to PLENTY of talks – most of them are really boring.  We’ve just cut off many of the better performers.

In my instance, there is no other source for some of the material that PCC is able to present.  So where are peds going to hear about it now while also rightfully earning CMEs?

– The definition of commercial, as I understand it, is completely bogus.  I’ve heard talks by hospital administrators and health systems that were way more biased and potentially harmful than any “commercial” presentation I’ve witnessed.

Just because someone works for a “non-profit” doesn’t mean they don’t have an inappropriate agenda.  CCHIT (and those who watch them) suffers the same problem

However, here’s the most troubling quote:

 Next month new policy becomes effective that excludes from accreditation any entity that markets, re-sells, or distributes health care products or services.

Someone correct me if I’m wrong…but doesn’t this mean that the AAP will no longer be CME accreditable?  Who will be allowed to provide CMEs any more?  No physician, no hospital, no association – they all market, re-sell, and/or distribute healthcare products and services.  Someone explain how I am mis-reading this?
If I read this properly, people like Dr. Rich Lander, Dr.Jan Berger, Dr. Chip Harbaugh, Dr. Joel Bradley (to name only a few of our favorite speakers) – they can no longer give CME courses!

Correct me if I’m wrong…

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