Monday, May 16, 2011

CME that makes a difference in patients' lives

Surveys of American Family Physician's readers and website visitors have consistently reported that the journal contains useful, evidence-based information that is applicable to daily practice. But as valuable as AFP is for providing continuing medical education to clinicians, does it actually save patients' lives? That's the question that primary care researchers from Sweden asked about a specific CME intervention in this month's issue of Annals of Family Medicine. Dr. Anna Kiessling and colleagues conducted a randomized trial comparing long-term outcomes in patients with coronary heart disease who received care from generalist physicians who attended repeated case-based trainings in the management of hyperlipidemia, or received usual care. Ten years later, the results were clear: the overall mortality rate in the intervention group (22%) was half of the mortality rate in the control group (44%).

The editors of AFP would like to believe that our online collections of selected content on topics such as hyperlipidemia, hypertension, and coronary artery disease have similar lifesaving benefits for your patients, but the truth is, we don't know. So how can we find out? As recently reported in AAFP News Now, journal CME quizzes for content published after the July 1st issue must be submitted online only, in order to meet new AMA requirements regarding CME credit. Although this will be a change for many readers, it presents an opportunity to think about how we might redesign CME content to better meet physicians' needs and improve measurable outcomes for their patients. If you have any thoughts or suggestions, please post them in a comment or send an e-mail to