Medical education and communication companies involved in CME: An updated profile

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Introduction:Medical Education and Communication Companies (MECCs) represent approximately 21% of the providers accredited by the Accreditation Council for Continuing Medical Education (ACCME), yet relatively little is known about these organizations in the greater continuing medical education (CME) community. Two prior studies described them, but powerful changes in the regulatory environment have impacted the structure and organization of these companies.Methods:The investigators administered a 32-item questionnaire to a select sample of 157 MECCs involved in CME, achieving a response rate of 50.3%.Results:Of the responding organizations, 87% were accredited by the ACCME, with 27% also holding accreditation from the Accreditation Council for Pharmacy Education and the American Nurses Credentialing Center Commission on Accreditation. Eighty-six percent reported no immediate involvement of the company in promotional activities. Fifty-three percent of the survey responders reported being part of a larger organization that included companies involved in promotion, and 88% of these organizations reported implementation of firewalls designed to protect the independence of certified education.Discussion:The survey reveals a sector that is largely privately held and moving from an organizational model that included both certified and promotional activities to one that includes only certified education. These changes, along with the implementation of firewalls to protect certified education from the promotional interests of other companies within their own corporate structure, may help to alleviate concerns about the independence of CME produced by MECCs. However, because MECCs continue to receive the majority of their support from commercial interests, the influence of funding is likely to be an area of lingering concern.

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