Professional network will give continuing medical education points to doctors for care-related literature searches and discussions with colleagues.
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Doximity, an online professional network that includes 170,000 U.S. physicians, has struck a deal with the Cleveland Clinic to offer a novel kind of continuing medical education (CME) based on social networking.
Instead of participating in webinars or reading journal articles and answering questions about them, physicians who choose Doximity's program, accredited by Cleveland Clinic, will participate in online discussions with other physicians to earn their CME credits. Moreover, they'll be able to do so on their iPhones, iPads or other mobile devices, a feature that Cleveland Clinic's CME program currently lacks. And the CME will be free for doctors.
Doximity tracks users' CME credits, both from its own program and from other programs if physicians forward their CME certificates to the network.
"Doximity's new CME offering has tremendous potential to save physicians precious time and reduce the burden of paperwork and tracking of credits that typically accompany CME activities," said Doximity CEO Jeff Tangney in a news release. "In addition to facilitating vigorous online discussion, Doximity's digital platform for CME also automatically handles logging and maintenance of education credits for its physician members."
In an interview with InformationWeek Healthcare, Tangney explained how the new social CME system will work. Doximity already offers its members the ability to search medical journals for articles relevant to patient care. Under the CME arrangement with Cleveland Clinic, they will get credit for the time spent doing those searches without having to answer questions about them afterward. This is similar to the "taxi-meter" approach at UpToDate, a major player in the point-of-care CME field, he pointed out.
"Part of the idea is giving doctors credit for what they're doing already that we want them to do more of -- which is using the Internet to find the right answer for the patient," Tangney noted. Under the Cleveland Clinic deal, CME-accredited content will come from about 200 journals, including those of the New England Journal of Medicine, the Lancet, and the Annals of Internal Medicine, as well as from Cleveland Clinic's own extensive educational resources.
Beyond doing the literature search, he said, physicians can get CME for participating in an online discussion with colleagues who have read the same article. "These articles become a launching-off point for doctors to have a discussion about how they might use [the research] in their practice. It's a discussion like the kind you might have on Grand Rounds. And your CME credit reflects the amount of time you spent participating in that."
Tangney, a founder of Epocrates who spent 10 years at that company, said that Doximity's approach is fundamentally different from his old firm's methodology. Epocrates, he said, takes a traditional approach to CME, including quizzes on articles read, and it lacks the search and social networking features of Doximity.
Currently, Tangney observed, the social networking aspect of Doximity is relatively little-used compared to its secure messaging functions, which let physicians message each other online or receive images or lab results via e-fax. Based on this experience, he doesn't expect much more than a fifth of the network's members to use the social media feature of the new program.
William Carey, MD, director of the Center for Continuing Education at Cleveland Clinic, is more optimistic about the possibility that Doximity's social media-driven CME will draw a big audience. Noting that the Cleveland Clinic's own CME website has been an "engine for growth," he said, "The lesson I've learned is that technology, harnessed in the right way, provides a tremendous opportunity for physicians and other providers to get education."
To make social media work with CME, he said, a CME provider must offer a platform with plenty of material and that is easy to use, cost effective, and based on "self-directed learning," such as online literature searches to answer care questions. In addition, the online content must be available on mobile devices.
"If you keep in mind the four things necessary for getting it right, there's no reason why CME through social media should not grow explosively in the next few years," he said.
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