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Medical Education: A Look at the Future from a Device Perspective

What would happen if all of the medical device sales reps no longer assist actively in the OR? Sales reps are in surgery a couple of times each week. That’s cost-intensive for the industry, and the margins decrease annually. Sales reps move in a situation that is juridical, not safe. How do we improve the situation for all parties?

An adjusted safety culture and training on medical and surgical education that considers transferability of knowledge are a challenge for healthcare facilities and medical device suppliers. These activities can come in many forms, from accredited to non-accredited education in the form of events and courses (both in person and online). Physicians tend to be grateful for high-quality, unbiased education.

Who is funding CME and surgical training today?

Today, CME is indirectly funded by the patient via insurance premiums. More directly, it’s funded and provided by the medical device industry, which backs approximately 80 percent of all CME activities. It’s important to remember the previously-mentioned situation in the OR with respect to industry employees joining medical staff. Last but not least, it depends upon who is funding it. If the current funders would reduce or cease their efforts, we could expect to see an adverse effect on patient care.

What could the future of CME and surgical training look like?

Training could expand on the basic concepts of fault information and opportunities to develop and promote a safety culture of systemic learning. Cooperation and networking of the stakeholders in the healthcare systems also are important conditions for improving.

Medical education itself is changing. Simply the acquisition of knowledge and the achievement of competence seem to be history. The industry leans toward a more innovative and interactive approach that makes demands on both teacher and those taught. (Pilots are trained on simulators before they sit in a real plane.) There are new and existing technologies and approaches by which medical staff could be educated in simulated situations. Virtual anatomy reality models, holographic technology and 3-D eyeglasses will revolutionize CME, surgical training and also the curriculum at medical universities and teaching hospitals.

CME and surgical training will become an independent market in the healthcare sector. Essential to success will be the balance of complex conflicts of interest from all stakeholders. Medical device companies may request that their customers prove that they have the skills to work with their products, and provide a license to the medical staff. Those who don’t attend won’t complete the training, and may not receive a license to use the innovative medical device.

Patient safety and quality improvement will become key performance indicators for medical device companies and healthcare facilities. Reimbursement systems will change from DRG (Diagnosis-Related Groups) to a quality-performance payment system. Medical device companies will give a warranty for the device when the medical staff has successfully finished the CME and training process. License and warranty could be extended annually when the user attends another CME training program.

Healthcare facilities will document procedure outcomes by department and medical staff to identify and analyze weaknesses, and then act upon them in a timely fashion. CME and training programs will be adjusted to every product and user. Surgical site infections, MRSA, revision surgeries and reoperations will be reduced significantly through consistent implementation of a new CME and training strategy, which will help healthcare systems become more efficient and cost-effective and will continue to offer benefits beyond patient outcomes.

All stakeholders—industry, healthcare systems and government—have to invest in order to win. Only by this common effort and investment will CME be modified and implemented. Joint collaboration and performance is essential to success.

Stefan Pickartz has 27 years of general management, business development, international sales and marketing experience in the healthcare, medical device and education industries, with a focus on applying innovative technologies to solve business problems. Mr. Pickartz, owner of Comtaix, is based in Germany. He can be reached at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..



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05/05/2014 12:13 PM
The reader is absolutely right. Many of the conferences are sponsored and supported by medical device industry for exhibition and many other services. These covers cost for the conference and keeps fees low. It's an importend first step.


04/30/2014 03:57 PM
Re: Who is funding CME and surgical training today...the author mentions two sources. Patients via insurance premiums and the device industry. What about surgeons themselves?

Aren't U.S. surgeons personally responsible for funding their own continuing education? Many of the annual conferences charge fees for attendance/access to the courses. No?