Phanish Chandra, CEO and Co-founder, Docplexus Online Services gives an insight on how time and cost constraints have led to the adoption of online CMEs as they offer myriad benefits like flexibility, cost advantage and recognition
Medical professionals can’t stop learning once they earn their degrees as they need to maintain competency and keep themselves updated about the latest advances in the field of medicine. In most of the states, doctors and other healthcare professionals are required to undertake regular continuing medical education (CME) courses. More than any other professionals, perhaps physicians are expected to keep pace with the latest developments in their fields. Currently, doctors attend lectures and seminars at local medical universities or nearby medical facilities.
In some cases, physicians also need to travel to other locations to participate in classes led by renowned experts and leading doctors. However, that practice may soon end in the near future since the online CMEs are taking over!
Current trends around the globe
Physicians around the globe are faced with similar problems with respect to updating their medical knowledge. Lack of time and lack of adequate budgets are among the top hurdles. Most of the CMEs also require the doctors to dedicate a certain of fixed time which becomes difficult due to their heavy workload. In addition, CMEs are very expensive and doctors need to pay for additional expenses such as travel, accommodation and alternative arrangements for their ongoing practices.
Due to these hurdles, the doctors in the Western countries have already started adopting online CMEs. A survey from a leading healthcare IT company in the US revealed that around 85 per cent of the doctors from various specialities in the US prefer to take online CME courses, than enrolling in a CME course where they are required to be present in person. The doctors from India also showed the similar inclinations while responding to the questions on Docplexus’ website.
Emerging need for online CMEs in India
Indian doctors are adapting to the change quite fast as compared to other professions. Due to constraints related to time and cost of the CMEs, doctors are openly expressing their interest in online CMEs. Moreover, inadequate facilities constrain the number of participants in each CME programme. Therefore, doctors are scouting for the CME programmes which fulfill all their criteria: flexibility, cost effectiveness, depth and recognition.
Online CMEs have the potential to cater to these needs. They offer:
Flexibility of time: Doctors can take these courses or seminars at any time they prefer. Neither do they need to adhere to a strict time schedule, nor do they need to finish their training in one session. Multiple sessions conducted as video lectures, slideshows and quizzes offer doctors flexibility which is a great benefit.
Reduced costs: Online CMEs help course conveners achieve economies of scale to such To the doctors, that transpires into reduced enrollment fees. In addition, as other associated costs such as transportation and accommodation costs are reduced, doctors are feeling more comfortable with online CMEs than in-person CMEs in most specialties.
Depth of the knowledge gained: Online CMEs allow doctors to undertake these courses at their own pace. It means that doctors can spend more time learning about new developments, treatments, techniques, drugs and innovations in their field. Doctors can also engage more with key opinion leaders (KOLs) in their field through interactive sessions and interviews. Overall, doctors are finding great value in online CME programmes.
Recognition for CMEs: Most of the online CMEs in the Western countries are conducted by the universities or medical associations. However, in India, there are not many institutes which are equipped with the resources to conduct such CMEs. During the latest online CME offered by Docplexus, we ensured that doctors got the best available knowledge along with proper certification for their efforts. This generated a lot of enthusiasm among the doctors who wanted to excel in their practice.
What did we learn at Docplexus?
When we launched our online CME course, we received an unprecedented response. Doctors from all corners of the country could easily gain the knowledge at their convenience. We covered 293 cities and towns through our CME course. In the first week itself over 1600 doctors registered for the course. Our eminent members were really happy that we are doing something good for the medical fraternity, perhaps the most essential thing for them, helping achieve their learning goals in the most convenient manner.
Our partners in the course too were happy that they could connect to a vast number of the doctors in the country. They were also delighted that through our joint effort we could bring about change and awareness in their area of expertise. We think, this is how we should be bringing about the fundamental change in the healthcare sector of India.
How can pharma benefit from online CMEs?
Pharma industry is already under tremendous pressure from the regulatory and monetary point of view. Neither can they engage with the doctors directly nor can they understand medical fraternity’s real concerns first-hand.
However, the pharma industry has its own huge resources of knowledge. In addition, the industry also interacts with the world’s leading scientists to facilitate medical research. These insights are most sought after by the doctors all over in the world. Doctors in India are no exception to this trend.
Undoubtedly, this relationship has to be the most ethical one and there is ‘nothing more ethical’ than sharing ‘knowledge’ for the best cause. Any such cooperative efforts are also well received by the doctors, making the relationship between pharma companies and doctors long-lasting.
The pharma industry also benefits when doctors are continuously engaged in medical education. Marketing the products can also get easier, as the ‘knowledge gap’ and gap between product offerings narrows. Online CMEs provide huge opportunity for pharma companies to gauge the response to a product or a particular therapy. This is a great marketing insight as future monetisation will heavily depend upon it. Companies will also get ‘visibility’ which medical representatives (MRs) are struggling to achieve. Altogether, it will be imperative for pharma companies to be actively engaged in delivering such knowledge offerings. After all, in this fast-moving, techno-savvy world only knowledge will prevail.