Last week, we held the last installment of our Fall Managing eLearning Thought Leaders Series: CME in the 21st Century. The webinar featured Valerie Smothers from MedBiquitous. MedBiquitous is a nonprofit organization sponsored by John’s Hopkins. They focus on innovation in education, technology healthcare, and develop technological standards for healthcare quality improvement and education.
Valerie has a background in instructional design, and is the Deputy Director of MedBiquitous. She is a subject matter expert on healthcare education, competency assessment, and quality improvement.
Smothers began the webinar with an introduction of what makes a standard. Noting that a standard can have a variety of different meanings depending on the context. For example, baby cribs and electrical outlets have standards for their physical properties. A baby crib has a standard width between the slots for safety and outlets have to fit voltage standards. Email has a technical standard so that no matter which application you use (Yahoo, Gmail, Outlook) the communication is able to be transmitted. Standards are extremely beneficial, especially technology standards, because they create a common language that allows for consistency of a process or product, no matter who is providing it.
Technology standards provide many benefits for organizations to collect and share data. Technical specifications enable interoperability of data, allowing for collaboration between any organization with the same standard. The conjoined data is even more beneficial than any data an organization had collected themselves due to economy of scale.
Smothers gave a list of benefits for having standards:
Most organizations are currently using the PDF certificate to verify and track the completion of continuing education. Although there are some benefits to PDF certificates, when it comes to using PDFs to share CE credit information, there are a few drawbacks. Using a PDF certificate means that only the organization who created the PDF has access to the data from the certificate; associations cannot pass that data to a certification board. In some cases, a learner’s comprehensive CE data can be spread over multiple CE providers. This means the learner has multiple PDF certificates to keep track of, and can easily be misplaced or lost. PDFs also do not interact with each other, so the learner must manually keep track of total CE credits completed. This puts a large administrative burden on the learner- most of which are healthcare professionals. For many healthcare professionals, recertification happens over the span of more than one year, increasing the burden of tracking CE credits.
These challenges and issues connected to the PDF certificate are why MedBiquitous created The Activity Report. The Activity Report provides a standard XML format for CE/CPD certificates and MOC activity reports, and is recognized as an American National Standard. The standard allows organizations to centrally track learning and Performance Improvement in a common format that can be exchanged across healthcare organizations and boards. The Activity Report works by creating specific fields for healthcare professionals and organizations to input data into, creating standardized reports. A few examples of the data collected include:
- Reporting Organization
- Providing Organization
- Activity Name
- Module Name
- Time Engaged
- Point of Care Learning Data
- Type of Credit Earned
MedBiquitous’ goals when creating the Activity Report were to track learning and certification achievements, to use data to drive improvement, and to bring competency data together. The success of the Activity Report can be seen by the large list of medical associations and medical boards that use the Activity Report as their standard for tracking and verifying CE and MOC credits and activities. Smothers exemplifies the effectiveness of the Activity Report with a case study of the American Board of Surgery (ABS). The ABS uses the Activity Report to collect and exchange MOC data. The Director of IT at ABS stated, “Thanks to our standards-based system, we are able to track all of this data quickly and cost effectively.”
Want to watch the full recording? View the webinar here.