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Special Report |

Realizing the Promise*: Delivering Pulmonary Continuing Medical Education Over the Internet

Michael W. Peterson, MD, FCCP; Jeffery R. Galvin, MD; Charles Dayton, BS, RPh; Michael P. D’Alessandro, MD
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*From the Departments of Internal Medicine (Drs. Peterson and Galvin), Pharmaceutical Care (Mr. Dayton), and Radiology (Drs. Galvin and D’Alessandro), College of Medicine, University of Iowa, Iowa City, IA.

Correspondence to: Michael W. Peterson, MD, FCCP, C33H GH, University of Iowa, Iowa City, IA 52242



Chest. 1999;115(5):1429-1436. doi:10.1378/chest.115.5.1429
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Study objectives: Continuing medical education (CME) is meant to bridge the gap between new scientific observations and clinical practice. However, traditional CME has not been effective at altering the behaviors of physicians. One reason for this failure of traditional CME programs may be their inflexibility. In traditional CME, the clinician does not choose the topic, the pace of the program, or the place of learning, and the CME material cannot be easily delivered to the point of care where the clinician needs the information. Computers and computer networks have the potential to accomplish these goals. CME has begun to appear on the Internet; however, there have been few evaluations of its usefulness, acceptance, and effectiveness. Over the last 18 months, we have developed three on-line pulmonary CME programs, and we have delivered them on the Virtual Hospital, the University of Iowa’s digital health sciences library on the Internet. We report our initial experience with this CME material.

Design: We measured the frequency with which the Internet-delivered CME is accessed by monitoring page accessions and by using a log file analysis program (Analog 1.2.3; University of Cambridge Statistical Laboratory; Cambridge, UK). In addition, we collected all completed CME examinations and evaluation forms submitted by registered users.

Measurements and results: We have found that the frequency with which the Internet-delivered CME is accessed has continued to increase with time (2.3-fold increase over 18 months), that evaluations of technical and content issues are strongly favorable, and that some clinicians have been willing to pay to receive CME through the medium of the Internet.

Conclusions: We feel that with adequate peer review and quality control, physicians will use the Internet-delivered CME. However, several obstacles to wide use remain. These obstacles include issues regarding training in using the Internet for physicians, reluctance of physicians to participate in on-line commerce, and the current unavailability of CME to be delivered in small-grained quantities to the point of care. As these issues are addressed, we feel that on-line CME will represent an increasingly important CME medium for clinicians.

Abbreviations: ACCME = Accreditation Council for Continuing Medical Education; AMA = American Medical Association; CGI = common gateway interface; CME = continuing medical education; IP = Internet protocol

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