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Continuous Medical Education

Continuing Medical Education within hospitals: why?

The efficiency of health units, the quality-first behaviors, and patient safety heavily rely on it.

Matilde Ferreira

Matilde Ferreira

June 15, 2021 · 5 min read

As the pace of scientific production and technological innovation accelerates, the need for health professionals to keep up to date tremendously increases. The proliferation of medical information represents a challenge, both in terms of volume and in terms of complexity. In addition, these changes are often associated with new clinical approaches and, consequently, updating professionals is crucial for patient safety and the provision of quality care. The issue becomes even more intense if, to the volume of information, we add to the increasing complexity of patients:
  1. In 2018, the life expectancy of a newborn in the European Union was already at 81 years; 1
  2. There are 101.1 million people aged 65+ which accounts for 20% of the total population; 2
  3. The world’s population aged 60 years and older is expected to reach 2 billion in 2050 (up from 900 million in 2015), representing an additional prevalence of chronic diseases and comorbidities. 3
Living more years is an achievement but living better is a challenge.
In the health sector, it’s not enough for professionals to be aware of the most recent scientific evidence, they are also required to know how to adapt that scientific knowledge to daily practice and patients’ needs, while cooperating in increasingly larger communities of consolidated care providers.
Overall, when thinking about the future of healthcare institutions, “availability of key skills” is among the top concerns for healthcare industry CEOs. 5 At the same time, hospital managers have been demonstrating an increasing focus on the effective management of teams' performance, to remain relevant and competitive in a challenging sector.

3 Reasons why you should invest in continuing medical education:

  • Your physicians won’t make it by themselves

    Research shows that it is difficult for physicians to keep up to date on best medical practices and recent changes to clinical practice guidelines. Thus, investing in continuing medical education represents an effective way to enhance evidence-based medicine and standardization of your unit clinical procedures.
  • Overcoming barriers and fostering improvement

    Continuing medical education not only addresses important information gaps related to each professional current level of disease knowledge, but it is also an effective way to change clinical decision making and practice behavior.
  • Talent retention

    Continuing medical education leads to less turnover and, consequently, reduces the effort required for successful recruitment. Global data shows that companies that promote error discussion and professional updating are three times more profitable and have retention rates up to four times better than those that do not have training programs. 6

Delving deeper into CME impact

The figures clearly show that there is a strong trend to improve theoretical knowledge and practical skills: the latest report released by The Accreditation Council for Continuing Medical Education (ACCME) 7 indicates that, in 2019, more than 1,700 accredited Continuing Medical Education (CME) providers offered nearly 190,000 educational activities, following a 10-year trajectory of growth. This education comprised approximately 1.3 million hours of instruction and approximately 37 million interactions with healthcare professionals. Since 2018, the number of educational events has increased by 5%, hours of instruction have increased by 6%, and the number of learner interactions increased by 2%.
Expenditures for CME exceed $2 billion annually, 8 and what impact does this value have on the care settings?
  1. A report on atrial fibrillation (AFib) training activities, promoted by the American College of Physicians, indicated that participants were roughly 50% more likely to deliver evidence-based care for AFib after the activity (consisting of three live activities and a web course), potentially improving care during more than 12,000 AFib patient visits each month. 9
  2. A study published in The Journal of Continuing Education in Health Professionals evaluated the economic impact when cardiac and thoracic surgeons applied learning from a CME activity about the prevention of bleeding-related complications. The model base case predicted what would happen if 30% of learners prevented bleeding complications in 2% of their annual surgeries. The savings estimates ranged from $1.5 to $2.7 million, depending on the type of complication, and findings were similar to clinical trials evaluating cost savings from interventions. 10
  3. An analysis conducted within the Surviving Sepsis Campaign demonstrates that increased compliance with sepsis performance bundles was associated with a 25% relative risk reduction in mortality rate. Every 10% increase in compliance and additional quarter of participation in the SSC initiative was associated with a significant decrease in the odds ratio for hospital mortality. 11
  4. Affecting 25 million people globally, Heart Failure poses an increasing problem for global healthcare systems and brings dramatic changes in people’s lives. UpHill developed a tailor-made course using clinical simulations to identify the gaps in the diagnostic and therapeutic approach to the disease, tracking the compliance with the European Cardiology guidelines. The training program resulted in a 25% increase in compliance with best practices and 4,5/5 average satisfaction for healthcare professionals.
Medical education is expected to be seen as an integral part of health services. It’s a matter of efficiency, being able to manage the available resources, both human and financial, to keep an institutional reputation, to promote human talent retention, to create teams drive by clear quality indicators, to meet strategic priorities that optimize the overall results and, finally, to promote the quality of care settings.


  1. Eurostat | Life expectancy across EU regions | [internet] available at
  2. Eurostat | Ageing Europe - looking at the lives of older people in the EU | [internet] available at
  3. World Health Organization | Ageing and health | [internet] available at
  4. World Economic Forum | 5 ways to bridge the global health worker shortage | [internet] available at
  5. PWC | A new treatment?: Healthcare findings from the 20th Annual Global CEO Survey | [internet] available at
  6. The Accreditation Council for Continuing Medical Education | Steady Growth in Accredited Continuing Medical Education – 2019 | [internet] available at
  7. Policy & Medicine | Continuing Medical Education: Study Shows Accredited CME Reduces Healthcare Costs | [internet] available at
  8. Policy & Medicine | Rockpointe Study Quantifies Impact of CME on AFib Treatment, Prompts New Workshop| [internet] available at
  9. Ravyn, D., Ravyn, V., Lowney, R., & Ferraris, V. (2014). Estimating health care cost savings from an educational intervention to prevent bleeding-related complications: the outcomes impact analysis model. The Journal of continuing education in the health professions, 34 Suppl 1, S41–S46.
  10. Levy, M. M., Rhodes, A., Phillips, G. S., Townsend, S. R., Schorr, C. A., Beale, R., Osborn, T., Lemeshow, S., Chiche, J. D., Artigas, A., & Dellinger, R. P. (2015). Surviving Sepsis Campaign: association between performance metrics and outcomes in a 7.5-year study. Critical care medicine, 43(1), 3–12.
Matilde Ferreira

Matilde Ferreira

Content Strategy & Communication Manager

Graduated in Communication Sciences, early on fell in love with storytelling. Started off as a journalist and then pivoted to the public relations world, she was always driven to craft relevant stories and bring them to the stage.

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