How Technology Will Affect CME in 2017

We would like to begin the New Year with a fresh look at an old friend – Continuing Medical Education.


The continuing medical education market began to rebound in 2012 after the financial collapse of 2008 and has continued steady growth to a robust $2.7 billion in total revenues in 2015. 13 million physicians and 11 million non-physicians attended at least one CME program in 2016. There are more than 1,900 accredited CME providers across the country that offer more than 147,000 activities. Every one of them requires marketing plans, a venue, travel arrangements for participants, a registration process, food and beverage, and presentation logistics. For meeting planners, this is serious business.


Planners should note that, with recent advances in technology, the CME market is changing rapidly and meeting planners must incorporate these new technologies into their CME program designs.

  • Simple classroom settings where medical professionals talk in front of power-point presentations to attentive students is no longer the norm.
  • Marketing is almost exclusively accomplished through effective email campaigns.
  • Registration is handled by mobile devices.
  • Access to your hotel room is gained through your Apple watch or some other wearable device.


  1. An increasing use of Augmented Reality and Virtual Reality will be one of the biggest changes in 2017.
    • Augmented Reality is a layering of computer-generated sensory input onto real-world views. Such tools as Hololens will provide completely new, immersive ways to collaborate and interact with each other from different locations.
    • Virtual Reality is immersive multimedia. Instead of watching a webcast, VR will make it seem to the remote attendee as if he/she were actually in the meeting room.
  2. Mobile Event Apps – Modern smart phones have an array of sensors. When combined with mobile event apps, every touch in the app can be traceable. They can provide a goldmine of information about participants’ likes, dislikes, interests, movements and more. Doubledutch, Genie Connect, and others are working to broaden the use of this data for meeting intelligence that can be used for marketing automation, customer relations management, and improvements to curriculum and presentation.
  3. Second-screen technology –  refers to the use of a mobile device to provide an enhanced viewing experience for other content, usually with interactive features. Presenter content, such as slides, polling, video notes, and social media links can be pushed to any device in real time during a presentation.
  4. The Internet of Things (IOT) is the connection of objects and people to transfer data over a network without the need for human interaction. For example, hotel rooms will become “smart”. Sensor chips in the appliances, thermostats, door locks, TVs, even whole buildings and cars, will provide unprecedented efficiency and convenience. Bluetooth low energy sensors can track attendee movements throughout a meeting facility and local area to provide a wide range of assistance such as location-aware information and directions. Beacons can provide a range of services including welcome notifications, directions, precise in-room polling, networking, and other options.
  5. Wearables – will help attendees receive directions, open guest room doors, make e-wallet transactions, receive conference alerts, exchange contact information, use as admission tickets, make audience polling responses, enable automated check-in, and record and track continuing education units.


Because these new technologies are evolving so quickly, I sense a growing resistance in some of my colleagues. Believe me, the educated, sophisticated medical professionals we are dealing with are eagerly embracing these new technologies. All we can do is work hard to keep up.

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