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Kaiser Permanente Physicians Prefer Traditional CME
Lew Miller

Kaiser Permanente (KP), the giant medical group, recently conducted its first national continuing medical education (CME) needs assessment, with results that were not surprising, but perhaps disappointing to some pioneers in the CME field.

As reported in the Winter 2002 edition of The Permanente Journal, the 1,976 KP physician respondents said:

  • Their perceived needs for certain topics are 4-5 times more important in selecting a CME program than their performance data.
  • Lectures (followed closely by workshops) are the most useful and effective formats for learning - much more so than audio/video tapes, online courses or CD-ROM.
  • Evidence-based medicine and clinical guidelines are much more important topics in helping provide patient care than time management, communications skills or customer service.
  • Biggest barriers to participation are inconvenient dates and a location that either takes too long to reach or is too costly.

The authors commented, "We are missing the opportunity to use our readily available physician performance data to design CME programs and to help our physicians select CME programs. Individual physicians and their supervisors may not perceive that data regarding quality of care, medical utilization, and feedback from peers or patients are connected to CME."

They also pointed out that while "physicians feel the lecture format can help change medical practice," the data show that lectures "rarely lead clinicians to change their behavior or lead to improved patient outcomes." They recommend that lectures "continue to be used selectively . but must be combined with more interactive learning formats."

Disturbed by the failure of respondents to give much value to topics such as customer service, communications and cultural competence, the authors suggested that these skills "be incorporated into the clinical curricula at the 'examination room' level."

The article may be accessed at

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