Will Europe ever fix CME?

KEY TAKEAWAY: Current European CME is very fragmented in both standards and enforcement and unlike the United States pharma companies can directly influence/promote CME in Europe. Penetration of online CME in the US is approx 60%, but in Europe that number is much lower at 20-30% because of lax enforcement.

Key Points:

  • CME has been well-designed and implemented in the United States since the late 1960’s. However, since the development of CME in Europe has not been uniform leading to considerable disparity in approach and practice.
  • Concerning CME provision, the role of governmental agencies,
    universities, professional associations, employers and private organizations is largely variable.
  • National CME accreditation agencies are scarce. In several European countries, different accreditation systems exist. What is needed in this respect is the fostering of creation of national CME accreditation agencies and the promotion of a harmonization process at a European level with the EACCME serving as a CME clearing house.


    The role of medical associations and governments is complementary but very often conflictive.

    [inlinetweet prefix=”” tweeter=”” suffix=””]In relation to the utilization of CME credits, they are currently used in some countries as incentives for physicians’ salaries and fees[/inlinetweet]. This is better than the attempts of several governments to implement CME mandatory by law which, in turn, very often lacks its adequate enforcement.

    • CME is mainly aimed at maintaining and improving physicians’ knowledge, skills and behaviors throughout their careers in order to provide safe, effective, and high quality healthcare. The main objective of CME accreditation is, in turn, to promote and guarantee the quality of CME programs.

    • Therefore, it is understandable that CME and CME accreditation systems must influence the outcomes in terms of patient care.

    Current CME Climate

    • Rely on a lecture format and count hours of learning
    • Have an insufficient emphasis on individual learning
    • Do not promote inter-professional collaboration, feedback, teamwork, or efforts to improve systems of care.
    • Do not make adequate or creative use of Internet technology.
    • Widely used CME delivery methods such as conferences and lectures have little direct impact on improving professional practice.
    • Today the health care community in Europe is focused mainly on measuring knowledge improvement.


    1ne: There are major opportunities to move CME in Europe online, but enforcement and incentives are needed to make it effective.  Could Medscape buy a European health care portal to extend its reach?