Modern continuing medical education (CME)  suffers from some of the same problems Abraham Flexner laid out in his report on undergraduate medical education nearly a century ago, according to a new paper in JAMA.

Researchers Eric Campbell and Meredith Rosenthal argue that the current CME system is hampered by excessive commercialization, unstandardized curricula, and lack of effect on patient care, three weaknesses the Flexner report identified. They argue that the the report, which shaped 20th century medical education, can be a similar catalyst  for needed CME reforms today.

The authors point to recent reports by the Institute of Medicine and Robert Steinbrook on the problem of heavy reliance on industry funding, which supports more than half of all CME in the U.S. and sports a 23.5 percent profit margin — and suggest that such reliance has caused a narrow, product-focused model that ignores important health issues and alternate therapies. They write:

Reorienting CME toward the goals of health system reform and away from marketing drugs will require a new system of funding with increased contributions from individual physicians, hospitals, and other sources.
Payment reforms should incentivize quality, efficient patient care, the authors say, and as such, physicians  should be financially responsible for a greater share of their CME.  In addition, they recommend that licensure requirements should be bolstered and formalized, and technology better used to measure effects of continued learning on patient care.