Continuing Medical Education Providers Report Increased Income

Medical Meetings Symbol

The Sunshine Act's Open Payments rules continue to present challenges for medical meeting planners. However, providers of continuing medical education (CME) continue to do well in spite of them, according to the Accreditation Council for Continuing Medical Education (ACCME), which this week published its 2013 Annual Report.

The report examines the activities of ACCME- and state-accredited CME providers and finds that their combined income exceeded $2.5 billion last year, up 3 percent over 2012. Because of the Sunshine Act, however, nearly two-thirds of that income (61 percent) came from sources other than commercial support, such as participant registration fees, government grants, private donations and allocations from providers' parent organizations. Commercial support accounted for 26 percent of providers' total income, and advertising and exhibits for 13 percent.

According to ACCME, income from commercial support has steadily decreased every year since 2005, with an average yearly decrease of 6 percent. 

At the activity level, ACCME tells a similar story: The majority of CME activities produced by ACCME-accredited members in 2013 (83 percent) did not receive commercial support, encompassing 81 percent of physician participants and 79 percent of nonphysician participants. The percentage of activities receiving commercial support has decreased 3 percent since 2010, the first year ACCME collected data about commercial support at the activity level.

Despite the decline in commercial support for CME activities, CME providers and activities are clearly growing, according to ACCME.

"Our 2013 report shows a robust system with more than 1,900 accredited continuing medical education providers that offered more than 138,000 educational activities, comprising more than 1 million hours of instruction," ACCME President and CEO Murray Kopelow, M.D., said in an audio statement. "These activities educated more than 24 million learners, including physicians and other health care professionals."