Continuing Medical Education Continues Amid COVID-19

Continuing Medical Education (CME) comprises educational activities designed to maintain, develop, or augment the knowledge a physician applies in providing myriad patient services. These are skills that benefit both the public and the profession through performance enhancements and keeping abreast of the latest medical advances.

The Accreditation Council for Continuing Medical Education (ACCME) defines CME content as that body of knowledge and skills generally recognized and accepted by the profession. It is vital to the basic medical sciences, the discipline of clinical medicine, and the provision of healthcare to the public. The definition is broad, encompassing continuing educational activities that assist physicians in carrying out their professional responsibilities more effectively and efficiently. 

Rural Healthcare and Subspecialists Feel Pandemic Pressure

Amid national lockdown restrictions, all medical conferences and workshops were postponed or canceled. Electronic education (e-Education) platforms providing content such as online conferences, webinars, and medical blogs have helped sustain CME during the pandemic. Rural healthcare practices have been particularly affected, including unique challenges in caring for very remote patient populations, as well as providers grappling with new telemedicine platforms as care delivery goes virtual.

Subspecialty areas have also felt the impact. Medical infrastructures and healthcare recruitment efforts are being challenged like never before. From reinstating retired physicians and nurses to the early start dates for medical school graduation and residencies – policies are being enacted to meet demand shortages.

Technology Addresses COVID-19 Head-on

The COVID-19 crisis has forced the healthcare sector and institutes of education at all levels to turn to virtual solutions. Benefits include cost-effectiveness compared to physical meetings, increased productivity and efficiency. The greatest benefit of all during the pandemic is health and public safety.

Among the various ways the medical sector is using technology is proctoring, or the assessment of medical skills and competencies. Proctors benefit from being able to perform remote supervision during examinations, processes, and procedures. Significant time and cost-savings are realized due to decreased travel time. It reduces appointment delays and cancellations and risk of contracting or spreading communicable diseases. The same approach can be deployed to address the challenges for Continuing Medical Education.

Seattle-based Hippo Technologies, Inc. takes virtual medical education one step further through the use of the latest in wearable computing. Their hands-free, voice-activated, head-worn tablets and Smart Glasses provide a “through the eyes of the clinician” viewpoint, enabling remote healthcare professionals to communicate in real-time with colleagues, and participate virtually during patient examinations, procedures, consults and rounding as if they were there. This gives rural healthcare professionals in particular virtual access to clinical environments and cases that they might not otherwise experience.

Hippo’s Virtual CME offering is supported by an industry-leading HIPAA-compliant platform, enabling clinicians to view and share medical records and imaging, and participate in 1:1 or group learning sessions.

James Marinucci is a strategic advisor for Hippo, and former faculty member and Director of Medical Education and Training Programs at The George Washington University Department of Emergency Medicine, where he developed a variety of medical education courses including CME. According to Marinucci, “Retired physicians are rejoining the workforce to help combat the global pandemic. They need refresher courses at a time when such activities cannot be conducted in the normal fashion. While videos showing a physician conducting a specific procedure might be available, Hippo offers a superior ‘through the eyes of clinician’ real-time solution. Innovative new procedures or opportunities to learn about rare disease cases seldom encountered by rural physicians are suddenly made accessible, wherever you’re located.”

Marinucci is currently Principal and CEO at Alleanza Group and Komodo Korps, which partners with healthcare organizations to design and deliver a wide variety of CME and professional development programs to support healthcare and non-healthcare professionals in multiple service sectors. “We utilize innovative technologies we consider superior in the market and, when appropriate, integrate them into everyday practice,” according to Marinucci.

In addition to the latest in wearable technology solutions for the medical space, Hippo also established the Healthcare Institute for Virtual Education™ (HIVE) in response to the growing demand for knowledge and best practices in the burgeoning field of Virtual Care. The HIVE serves as a forum for global learning and sharing, featuring thought leadership articles, white papers, industry news and virtual care case studies from around the world.

Collaboration. Innovation. Education.

Together, companies like Hippo and Komodo Korps are working to address myriad issues brought on by the global pandemic related to virtual care in general and the challenges for medical education in particular.

“Funding for CME continues to be cut back,” Marinucci remarked. “Solutions like Hippo offer more bang for the buck. While you can never replace face-to-face, virtual technologies and wearable computing offer the next best thing. Rural markets and remote, less affluent areas can be reached and engaged via these powerful connected tools,” he concluded.