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Administering continuing medical education (CME) is no simple task— from the advanced accreditation reporting to the ongoing evolution of medical best practices, it can be a huge administrative task for your team.

This task is made even harder if your CME learning management system (CME LMS), the platform that delivers eLearning to your association’s members, fails to support you in the effort.

In this guide, you’re going to take a deep dive into CME LMSs through the following points:

The goal of this piece is to ensure that the next CME LMS you invest in supports your organization effectively. But, before we dive into the five features that you should seek in your next CME LMS, let’s discuss why you’re seeking a new solution to begin with.

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This section covers challenges with CME LMSs.

The Biggest Challenges With Healthcare Learning Management Systems

If you’ve clicked on this guide, there’s a decent chance it’s because your current CME LMS is failing to meet the needs of your association.

There are a wide variety of reasons why your CME LMS may not be the right fit for your association. Discovering the specific pain points that your association faces when it comes to administering CME will reveal which features to prioritize in the LMS selection process.

This graphic summarizes the top five challenges with ineffective CME LMSs.

Let’s walk through the five key challenges that we’ve found healthcare associations face when it comes to administering CE. Keep in mind that your organization may be facing more than one of these challenges— but luckily, there are strong software solutions to help your association overcome them.

The first challenge with an ineffective CME LMS is complicated accreditation reporting.

Complicated Accreditation Reporting

Healthcare associations have stricter requirements to abide by when it comes to administering continuing education credits due to the inherent importance of the education they’re providing. Whether it’s Continuing Medical Education (CME), Continuing Nursing Education, or training for other healthcare specialties, the education must align with specific accreditation regulations.

Manually generating reports, exporting them from your LMS, and submitting them to the Accreditation Council for Continuing Medical Education’s Program and Activity Reporting System (PARS) is a complicated, precise administrative burden for your team to tackle. These reports need to include:

  • Information about specific activities, including the date of accredited activities, hours of instruction, type of activity, learners that completed the activity, and much more.
  • Program summaries, such as the advertising and exhibit income, registration fees, government grants, and private monetary donations received.
  • An attestation statement.

Your association needs to report to PARS for all accreditation activities. If your CMS LMS does not have reporting automation features, it is failing to assist you with this task.

The first challenge with an ineffective CME LMS is multifaceted credit management.

Multifaceted Credit Management

Medical learners are high-achievers and as such, seek a comprehensive portfolio of their completed continuing medical education credits. This could include credits completed with your association and your LMS, as well as those completed elsewhere.

Many sub-par CME LMSs fail to address this wide range of productivity, instead only logging information completed within their own systems. However, this only represents part of the picture for your association’s members.

Imagine this: you’re a member of your association. You’ve completed CE credits both within the association’s LMS and outside of it, but you’re unable to combine the two views into one comprehensive system. This has left you juggling multiple systems, without a clear path forward into additional professional development opportunities. Therefore, you rarely invest in add-on CE experiences beyond what’s required of you to maintain licensure, and as a result, contribute little non-dues revenue to your association.

For your organization, the above scenario is one to be avoided. Unfortunately, CME LMSs that don’t address this multifaceted credit management can leave you with no other option.

The first challenge with an ineffective CME LMS is evolving medical best practices.

Evolving Medical Practices

The healthcare field is always evolving, whether due to changes in the requirements for a professional to maintain licensure or innovative new practices that members are eager to incorporate into their daily efforts. If your LMS doesn’t make it easy for your association to keep up with this evolution, you’ll quickly fall behind the times.

For example, it’s easy to imagine new guidance around pandemic procedures on the horizon. When that guidance is released, your association will want to provide CE to members in a timely, but still effective manner. However, if your LMS doesn’t make it easy to author new modules and market these new courses, it will be a challenge to release new credits for your members.

This could lead to a situation where your association’s learning business is seen as unreliable for members who are looking for the most up-to-date guidance. It could even lead to dangerous situations if members are completing courses teaching outdated practices that are no longer widely accepted.

The first challenge with an ineffective CME LMS is decreased non-dues revenue.

Decreased Non-Dues Revenue

For your association, providing CE credits isn’t just a benefit for your members— it’s a business. Ongoing professional development is a large non-dues revenue-generating activity for your association, and if you’re working with a sub-par LMS you could be watching that revenue drop month after month.

There are a variety of reasons why your LMS could be failing to bring in much-needed non-dues revenue, such as:

  • It provides a clunky user experience and therefore, members aren’t interested in completing CE credits with it unless absolutely necessary.
  • It doesn’t empower you to create new content and keep up with the latest developments in your field.
  • The content you share within the LMS is dull and unengaging.
  • It doesn’t provide learning recommendations, so members aren’t sure of the next steps to take in their professional development journey.

Non-dues revenue is what fuels the work of your association, from staff salaries paid to the extravagant events that you host for members. If that revenue is on the decline, the experiences you’ll be able to provide for members will be directly impacted.

The first challenge with an ineffective CME LMS is providing content in an accessible manner.

Accessible Content Delivery

One of the many lessons that 2020 taught us is that the way society at large operates can change on a dime. For example, when the pandemic hit, there were suddenly a variety of new barriers to providing CE in an accessible manner for all members. This includes social distancing and masks for safety, building capacity limits for instructor-led training, and of course, the mass pivot of all in-person events to the virtual sphere.

These are just the barriers that arose in the last year, however, there are a plethora of other challenges that exist whether there is a pandemic or not. For example:

  • Members living in different geographical areas and as a result, different time zones.
  • Busy schedules preventing members from engaging in professional development.
  • eLearning content pricing that brings in revenue and is affordable for members.

Facilitating CME in a manner that empowers all interested members to engage with it can be a task easier said than done if your CME LMS isn’t an impactful solution.

This section covers five features to seek in your next CME LMS.

5 Features to Seek in Your Next Medical Learning Management System

If you can relate to any of the previous challenges when it comes to your CME program, it’s a clear sign that it’s time to invest in a new solution. But, you’ll want to tread carefully to ensure you’re choosing the right system with the right functionality to overcome your association’s biggest CME challenges.

This graphic summarizes the five features to seek in your next CME LMS.

Let’s cover five key aspects to keep in mind when searching for a new CME LMS.

Bonus! For more information about investing in the right CME LMS, download one of our latest whitepapers: “What Your CME LMS Needs To Support Your Success.”

In your CME LMS, seek automated PARS and accreditation reporting.

Automated PARS & Accreditation Reporting

Some CME LMSs have built-in features specifically made for ACCME PARS and other accreditation reporting-related efforts. This includes the ability to:

  • Clearly display any accredited courses and learning modules that your association offers.
  • Document data related to Maintenance of Certification (MOC)-compliant courses.
  • Create reports that align with ACCME PARS compatibility requirements.
  • Empower learners and administrators to directly submit credits from your LMS to PARS.

With these capabilities, learners and administrators can quickly and easily discover the accredited offerings that your association provides. Beyond that, upon the completion of accreditation-related activities, you (and members) can then report on those activities without a large administrative burden.

This is one of the biggest benefits of choosing a CME-specific LMS, rather than a general one made for associations. If the challenges of complicated accreditation reporting from the previous section sound familiar, this is a feature that could drastically improve the process for your team and members alike.

In your CME LMS, seek an intuitive interface.

Intuitive Interface for Users and Administrators

No one wants to interact with a CME LMS that’s clunky and hard to use. If that describes your current LMS, seek out the following features in your next solution:

  • Comprehensive editing functionality for administration. For example, seek the ability to make any changes to the visual display of your LMS via drag-and-drop tools or an editing wizard.
  • Responsive design. Members and your team should be able to access the system regardless of device, whether a desktop, tablet, or mobile device, and have a comparable viewing experience.
  • Offline use with automatic sync. This allows members and your team to interact with your LMS even when not connected to an internet network and simply save the information to the LMS once you’re reconnected.
  • White-labeled branding. When your LMS is fully branded to your association, it provides a familiar experience for members and your team alike.

But what does this mean for your association? Fewer questions from frustrated users, members who are readily and eagerly engaging with your LMS, and increases in non-dues revenue as a result. Further, a CME LMS that provides a straightforward experience for administrators can drastically decrease the time, energy, and brain-power your team expends to facilitate eLearning.

In your CME LMS, seek authoring features.

Authoring

If you’re struggling to keep up with the times of healthcare eLearning and provide updated courses and modules for your members, course and assessment authoring features can help. For example, seek functionality such as the ability to:

  • Author courses with interactive video experiences, learning games, and hotspots and drag-and-drop experiences.
  • Create assessments with both standard multiple-choice and multimedia question types.
  • Craft adaptive quizzes and create branching experiences.
  • Create question banks to categorize and tag questions and then reuse them across assessments as applicable.
  • Proctor and time assessments that have more stringent requirements.

Not only will these features empower you to create content that is updated with the latest and greatest practices in healthcare, but it will be more cost-effective to do so. Rather than outsourcing course and assessment creation to costly development professionals, you can create these elements yourself.

Plus, some CME LMSs (such as Web Courseworks’ CourseStage Health) are backed by eLearning professionals with experience with managing subject matter experts and authoring courses. So, you can invest in additional professional services as needed.

In your CME LMS, seek advanced credit management.

Advanced Credit Management

We’ve discussed how a lack of advanced credit management abilities can impact your association negatively. A CME LMS that provides you with the ability to do the following can help:

  • Consolidate credits earned within the CME LMS and outside of the system in one comprehensive learner profile.
  • View certificates completed and generate dynamic PDF documents as needed.
  • Monitor progress within courses and the credits earned.

These features allow you and your members to have a comprehensive view of each individual’s personal achievement. Members can stay up-to-date on what they’ve completed and use that to ascertain the best next steps for their professional development, whether it’s renewing a license or pursuing something new. Further, you can use this information to provide course recommendations and guide your members down their own personalized learning paths.

In your CME LMS, seek virtual event capabilities.

Virtual Event Capabilities

One way that you can overcome accessibility challenges for eLearning, specifically turning to instructor-led training and events, is by hosting virtual and hybrid events. These events empower attendees near and far, as well as attendees with differing physical disabilities, to participate in your eLearning events with ease.

While you can invest in a separate virtual event platform on top of your CME LMS, that just means added complexity for your team and members when navigating your tech stack. Instead, you should seek a CME LMS that can facilitate virtual events alongside CE programming.

For example, CourseStage Health can be used for both eLearning and virtual events alike. And, the Web Courseworks team can help you configure the event, removing much of the administrative burden from your team.

This section covers how to choose the right CME LMS.

How To Choose the Right Healthcare LMS: 4 Top Tips

When you begin searching for the right CME LMS, you’ll be met with a barrage of options. Some are more straightforward, others are full-featured, and many are— at first glance— quite similar to one another in functionality.

Simply viewing a list of included features isn’t enough to make sure you choose the right CME LMS for your association to upgrade to. We recommend doing all of the following during your search as well:

This graphic summarizes tips for choosing a CME LMS.

  • Review client testimonials, reviews, and case studies. Seek out both public reviews, testimonials, and case studies that the provider can share. What did the client note as high points in the engagement, as well as challenges to overcome? How did the provider help the client overcome any challenges that occurred?
  • Seek recommendations from associations with similar eLearning needs. Ask other healthcare associations in your orbit which solutions they use. Do they recommend any particular LMSs? Or, do they warn you away from others?
  • Inquire about the level of support that the LMS provider offers. As a baseline, will the provider be available to help you troubleshoot any challenges that arise with your LMS? Do they offer any additional professional services, such as instructional design, LMS administration, or even subject matter expert management?
  • Request a demo and test the solution for yourself. Consider the ease of navigating the solution both from the administrative standpoint and the learner standpoint. Do you run into any points of confusion when navigating the solution? If so, can these be adjusted by the provider?

Following all of these steps when choosing your new CME LMS ensures that you’ve evaluated the solution from all angles and are investing in the right solution for your organization’s unique needs. You’ll have discovered any challenges that you may encounter when using the LMS and have already discussed them with the provider.

CourseStage Health is the top CME LMS.

CourseStage Health: The Best Learning Management System for CME

If you’re looking for a CME LMS that can help you overcome your healthcare association’s biggest eLearning challenges, consider Web Courseworks’ CourseStage Health.

Our CME LMS has all of the features discussed in this guide and more, and is created specifically to lessen the administrative burden on your team when it comes to facilitating eLearning. Specifically, it offers:

  • Automated PARS and accreditation reporting, removing a significant task from your team’s plate.
  • Advanced credit management, to empower learners with comprehensive portfolios of their achievements.
  • Course and assessment authoring, empowering you to create content that appeals to your learners’ evolving needs.
  • Virtual event capabilities, empowering you to host virtual and hybrid events as needed.

And more, including peer benchmarking, item-by-item analysis, and performance improvement activities. To see CourseStage Health in action, review the following case studies:

  • American College of Chest Physicians: CHEST uses CourseStage Health to offer CME and MOC activities at its annual meeting in a way that provides a seamless transition from in-person to online activities.
  • National Board of Osteopathic Medical Examiners: NBOME uses CourseStage Health’s performance improvement module to make content changes and provide more enriched performance improvement experiences to physicians.
  • Society of Interventional Radiation: SIR relies on CourseStage Health to provide engaging blended learning experiences to its members. More recently, they’ve also hosted virtual conferences with the help of Web Courseworks and Conference Now.

To learn more about CourseStage Health, request a demo of the solution today. In the meantime, explore the following additional resources:

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