Mobile Apps: The New Source for CME

October 24, 2014

Instead of paying for airfare to expensive conferences, mobile apps are making CME opportunities more accessible for busy physicians.

Working in private practice can be difficult, especially if your organization is still in the growing phases, or employs just a few physicians. Not working for a hospital means less support for your practice, less help with financials, and less time for professional activities outside your practice, like continuing medical education.

Physician fatigue (or burnout) has become an area of interest over the past several decades, and the influx of new health information technology, such as EHRs, only adds more for physicians to learn.

So when do private physicians have time to stay up to date on the latest practices or examine innovative research? Many accreditations rely on CME, so it has to get done.

In order to address this, many CME providers are developing mobile applications and increasing their online educational resources. This is not only more efficient for physicians; but also cheaper.

This could mean the continued growth of CME resources on mobile, a medium some 94 percent of physicians already use to access medical information. In addition, 91 percent of physicians are interesting in accessing EHRs through their mobile devices. That means smartphones could soon be critical for running a practice, and meeting CME requirements.

So what does the state of CME applications look like right now? Let’s look at three prominent options.

1. Epocrates
The market leader when it comes to clinical information apps, Epocrates boasts some 1 million users in the United States healthcare system.
Epocrates allows physicians to earn a wide variety of credits for organizations like the AMA, American Association for Physician Leadership, and American Nurses Credentialing Center across a huge range of specialties. Known as “activities,” Epocrates’s learning modules can be redeemed for between .25 and 1.5 credits. If you choose to receive CME credits for a completed activity, Epocrates will e-mail you a certificate validating your efforts.
Since its content is curated by in-house clinicians, this app is also often used as a clinical decision support tool, which explains why nearly a third of Epocrates users launch the app at least three times a day.
In addition to letting users create education plans and goals, Epocrates is available at no charge.

2. QuantiaMD
If Epocrates is meant to provide continuing education in a solo context, QuantiaMD looks to build a community of physicians around continuous learning opportunities. QuantiaMD offers education opportunities in a number of mediums. Physicians can listen to lectures from prominent doctors from around the nation, or listen to recorded cases from their peers and vote on the correct diagnosis.
QuantiaMD focuses on the community aspect of medicine and promotes debate among members. Clinicians can earn AMA PRA category 1 credits by completing QuantiaMD’s lectures, by participating in their monthly case challenges, or by completing quizzes.
Physician’s can access all of this content through QuantiaMD’s mobile app, which is free to use and download.

3. Qstream
The most narrowly focused of these three apps; Qstream uses a spaced-interval learning method that helps increase memory retention.
In addition to its unique pace for learning, Qstream also uses game elements to increase user engagement. Qstream’s learning modules include three minute to five minute quizzes based on clinical scenarios, making it an excellent option for learning during downtime. Qstream also offers personalizes quizzes based on the performance of individual users.
Qstream’s main offering includes content on patient safety, infection control, emergency medicine, palliative care, and advanced life support - though CME providers can customize content for use at their event, or in the case of providers, in your practice.

Continuing medical education hasn’t decreased in importance. The amount of time physicians have to spend time studying is simply evaporating. Instead of paying for airfare to expensive conferences, mobile applications are making CME opportunities more accessible for busy providers. In the near future, they could be the main source of CME content.