How the Pandemic Changed CME Spend for Healthcare

Hospitals and healthcare systems are increasingly working to enhance physician alignment and attract new talent. This helps improve the quality of patient care, grow market share, and increase revenue. As a result, continuing medical education (CME) continues to take on a greater importance. But as everything else, CME spend has changed since the start of the pandemic.


The pandemic changed how physicians think about CME courses

During the pandemic, many CME courses moved online, and it’s looking like that trend will continue. According to a survey of 200 physicians taken by PlatformQ Health in 2020, 9 out of 10 physicians said they will use online courses as their primary CME format choice post COVID-19. However, that doesn’t mean that clinicians will stop attending conferences. In the same survey, at least 22% said they still plan to seek most CME at in-person meetings.

Managing CME Expenses in the New World

Learn more about the costs and risks of the different kinds of CME spend


The 3 Key Problems of CME Spend Management

As the landscape of CME spend changes, healthcare budgets will also change, and having visibility is critical to preventing non-compliant spend. This could range from ensuring CME courses are through reputable companies, to preventing clinicians from booking out-of-policy hotels or extending their stay at non-local conferences.

How are your current CME expense processes managed? If it’s like most healthcare organizations, it’s manually. Here are three key problems impacting your CME expense management:

1. Manual process

To keep track of the CME budget, if they do at all, clinicians will typically start by checking a spreadsheet to see what they have available. From here, they can use this budget when and where they see fit. However, keeping track of every item to be expensed often means keeping stacks of paper receipts and purchase records to enter later. But with many back-office administrators and clinicians working from home, or altered schedules due to COVID-19, manual spreadsheets and paper receipts are difficult to manage.


40% of healthcare customers CME spend falls within T&E spend - SAP Concur customer data


Since each clinician must manually calculate and enter information every time they access their CME budget, not only is time wasted, but it also increases the risk of human error.

2. Limited visibility

It can be difficult to track exactly which programs are being used to complete courses, especially online, and clinicians are completing more CME hours than pre-pandemic. In fact, PlatformQ Health survey found that over 50% of respondents will complete 5+ hours of online CME per month, up from 38% prior to March 2020. With the increase of online courses, there was also an uptick of incentive-based CME. These types of courses are still online, but once it’s been completed, the clinician is given gift cards in return. The dollar amount of these gift cards often mirrors their budget for yearly CME spend. Without full visibility, CME is an easy target for unapproved spend, not only for online courses, but destination CME as well. With destination conferences, physicians could extend their stay, bring family members, and book at non-approved hotels without your organization knowing until it’s too late.

3. Budgets are difficult to control

Even with complete visibility into when, why, and what spend is happening, if you can’t control your budget, you still have a challenge. Effective tracking of CME spend requires having access and control over your budget to remove or add funds, while also having the ability to approve and deny expenses before they occur. Ultimately, you need to be able to implement changes to a CME budget as you see fit, when you see fit. Especially during a time where the pandemic landscape changes from day to day.


Regain control of CME with SAP Concur solutions

If you can’t see your spending, you can’t control your spending. It’s essential to ensure you are getting the most bang for your buck when it comes to CME post-COVID-19. By rethinking how your organization handles its CME spend, you can help your clinician get the most value out of their education so that they can keep treating their patients with the best possible care.

With SAP Concur solutions, you can get a clear look into travel and expense data from all across your business to ensure clinicians are staying within budget, before the spend ever happens.

To learn more about how CME has evolved through the pandemic and what SAP Concur solutions can do to help gain visibility and control costs, download our one-pager.

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