It seems as if everything in our lives is moving online— banking, news, shopping—so it isn’t much of a stretch that continuing medical education (CME) would move online as well. For the participant it provides easy access to respected experts on relevant topics at the click of a button. For an organization such as the American College of Phlebology, online CME can enhance hands-on and live educational activities in ways that are meaningful to provider and patient alike.
Building an Online Education Center
The American College of Phlebology understood this important trend in 2011 when it sought funding for an Online Education Center dedicated to meeting the needs of not only its members, but also the larger community of healthcare providers involved in the diagnosis and treatment of venous disease.
“Very few online CME sites deal directly with vein care in a comprehensive way,” noted Heather Durband, ACP’s Director of CME . “We decided to build a program that would promote best practices and extend our live activities to a broader audience in a way that could stand shoulder to shoulder with the online content of any other major specialty.”
Luckily, Durband has been down this road before, developing CME programs, online and live, for both Northwestern Memorial Hospital and Texas Tech.
“It’s all about the content,” says Durband. “An impressive website is nice, but without relevant courses from respected experts, no one’s going to come back. Luckily, at ACP, I haven’t had any problem finding quality content.”
Before each course is posted online, there’s a thorough vetting process for both educational relevance and compliance with standards set forth by the Accreditation Council for Continuing Medical Education (ACCME ), which requires the ACP meet specific criteria as an accredited provider. Because of this rigorous process, all courses offered through the Online Education Center have been approved for AMA PRA Category 1 CreditsTM.
The Current Online Education Center
The ACP Online Education Center launched in June of 2012 with 15 courses, dealing with ultrasound and sclerotherapy topics. Since then, 40 additional courses, totaling more than 42 AMA PRA Category 1 CreditsTM have been added to the online catalog. Topics range from basic to advanced superficial and deep venous issues including: cases, diagnosis, imaging, management, treatment techniques, and recommendations. The courses are all presented by AC P experts and are intended for physicians, nurses, sonographers, and other healthcare professionals who wish to advance their venous disease knowledge, skills, strategies, practice performance, and patient outcomes.
The comprehensive array of venous health courses currently online provides a flexibility live courses can’t offer, allowing healthcare providers to take these courses anytime and at their own pace.
The Future of the Online Education Center
The purpose of the Online Education Center is to provide the most up-to-date content and best practices in the field of vein care. Plans to repurpose the course content from the 2012 ACP Annual Congress in Hollywood, FL, are already underway and will be posted after the conference. Beyond this, the ACP is looking to expand the scope of online learning in the future as well.
At the 2012 ACP Annual Congress, live streaming of various courses was made available to those not in attendance. While only a few sessions were available for live streaming at the 2012 Annual Congress, the ACP plans to expand the streaming options for the 2013 UIP World Congress in Boston.
Further down the road, as participants become more familiar with the online educational format, the ACP is exploring streaming other live activities, such as live procedures where participants can become part of the event remotely. This will give participants the experience of clinical observation without the travel.
It is the goal of the ACP to expand educational opportunities with the growing needs of the medical community. The combination of new technologies along with more traditional distance learning activities and live educational meetings will allow the ACP to provide comprehensive vein care education unmatched by any other venous healthcare education provider.