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The Growth, Characteristics, and Future of Online CME

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JCEHP Volume 30, Number 1, ISSN 0894-1912


Introduction: Physician use of online continuing medical education (CME) is growing, but there are conflicting data on the uptake of online CME and few details on this market. Methods: Analyses of 11 years of data from the Accreditation Council for Continuing Medical Education (ACCME) and a survey of 272 publicly available CME Web sites. Results: The data suggest that online CME was 6.9%-8.8% of CME consumed in 2008. If previous exponential growth continues, online CME is likely to be 50% of all CME consumed within 7-10 years. Most (60%) online CME is produced by medical publishing and education companies. The online CME marketplace is consolidating, with 16% of surveyed sites providing 76% of available credits. Currently, 70% of online CME is offered at $10 or less per credit. Most online CME uses low-technology educational approaches, such as pure text and repurposed live lectures. Discussion: Online CME use is growing rapidly and is likely to be half of all CME consumed by practicing physicians within a few years. The pattern is consistent with Christensen's model of "disruptive innovation", whereby an innovative technology eventually displaces an incumbent technology by first providing a relatively low-quality, low-cost product that meets the needs of unserved customers. The technologies being developed for online CME may facilitate broader changes in medical education as well. (Contains 3 tables and 1 figure.)


Harris, J.M., Sklar, B.M., Amend, R.W. & Novalis-Marine, C. (2010). The Growth, Characteristics, and Future of Online CME. Journal of Continuing Education in the Health Professions, 30(1), 3-10. Retrieved October 27, 2020 from .

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