The global continuing medical education market size was valued at USD 8.89 billion in 2022. It is estimated to reach USD 13.52 billion by 2031, growing at a CAGR of 7.7% during the forecast period (2023–2031).
Continuing Medical Education (CME) is a type of continuous education (CE) that aids medical professionals in maintaining their competence and learning about new and developing fields within their field. Live events, textual content, online programs, audio, video, and other forms of electronic media are all possible for these activities. These programs' content is created, vetted, and presented by academics who are specialists in each of their specific clinical fields. CME focuses on retaining and improving physicians' knowledge, skills, and behavior throughout their careers to provide effective, safe, and high-quality healthcare.
In addition, CME has a major impact on patient care, with increased competence and performance of healthcare professionals. CME generally refers to educational activities given the go-ahead to earn CME points. Physicians value CME credits because many hospitals mandate a minimum amount of credits for their doctors to continue holding a credential to treat patients, and other jurisdictions have annual requirements for maintaining medical licenses. The American Medical Association Physicians Recognition Award has approved CME credits.
The increase in students enrolling in medical schools worldwide will likely bolster the demand for the CME market during the forecast period. The Association of American Medical Colleges evaluated that 22,239 matriculants, or a 1.7% increase over 2019, entered medical schools in the US in 2020, marking a two-decade record. Moreover, the number of applicants for the class of 2021 increased by 18% from 2020. The scope of medical education, especially online courses, is anticipated to expand due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Online schooling has become increasingly popular due to governments implementing strict social segregation policies. The widespread use of the internet and familiarity with current technology has made it possible for professors, researchers, and medical professionals to schedule online classes in various ways. These consist of distributing printed medical literature, audio recordings, e-books, and live video streaming for lectures. Further, the pandemic has promoted more research into developing vaccines and medications to treat illnesses. The result is expected to lead to the strong growth of the medical education market.
The purpose of practice-relevant CME is to enhance competence, performance, understanding of current standards of care, and patient outcomes. CME serves a central role in the licensure and certification of practicing physicians and has become an essential part of practice worldwide. In addition, approximately 70% of physicians in the US are required by their state medical licensing boards to participate annually in formal, structured continuing medical and educational activities to meet licensure requirements. Such factors drive market growth.
CME programs keep professionals abreast of the latest things and developments in research and treatments, improving quality patient care. Various challenges in LMICs limit physicians undergoing CME courses. These challenges include financial constraints, lack of motivation and support, lack of learning resources, non-release by employers, and poor or slow internet connectivity. As of 2017, an online survey among 13 countries in Africa indicated that a slow internet connection was a significant barrier to online CME program participation.
In addition, healthcare workers such as nurses face a huge challenge in taking up CME programs. These include the lack of support to fund and attend scheduled CME courses, completely focused on work priorities, and lacking employer cooperation to attend CME programs outside the workplace, hindering the market growth.
The demand for mobile platform-based CME education is high, which includes apps, mobile, and optimized websites. By 2025, the younger demographic is expected to drive mobile CME use. About 25% of the oldest physicians and about 70% of the youngest doctors used a smartphone for educational purposes. Millennials will account for the highest number of healthcare workers. In addition, one of the most crucial elements is that millennials favored mobile-based learning the most. The adoption of modern technology like mobile phones and apps is higher among the younger workforce than older physicians taking up the CME program. This trend will drive CME into a simple and more user-friendly mobile platform.
Desktops are becoming more popular as a result of the trend toward online education by many vendors. Vendors like NORCAL Insurance Company and CineMed have mobile apps and online platforms to attract physicians undergoing CME. Vendors maintain their CME libraries that are digitally published using online and mobile platforms. This helps physicians learn quickly and timely the relevant topics that help them reduce risks, creating opportunities for market expansion.
The global continuing medical education market is segmented by delivery method, providers, and specialty.
Based on the delivery method, the global medical education market is bifurcated into e-learning, classroom training, RSS, Journals, and others.
The classroom training segment dominates the global market and is estimated to exhibit a CAGR of 4.95% over the forecast period. The courses are defined as classroom-based face-to-face CME teachings. Each course is developed by medical and continuing education experts at accredited institutions for healthcare professionals. All of the activities in these CE or CME-eligible courses take place in a classroom. They are intended to aid medical professionals in maintaining, enhancing, or advancing the knowledge and skills required to deliver services to their patients, the general public, or the profession. In addition, most experienced physicians who feel their schedule will be a disturbance for them to take online classes prefer to take classroom-based courses, which will happen continuously from a few days to a week so that physicians can focus on the learning part without any hindrance. This is driving the demand for classroom-based courses.
E-learning includes online classes, live webinars, and accessible online enduring materials that can be accessed remotely and conveniently. Users can access the content at any moment while the activity is ongoing. The time of access to materials depends on the requirements of physicians. Internet-enduring materials include online interactive educational modules, recorded presentations, and podcasts. Millennials will be the larger workforce in the next decade. They make more money than doctors from previous generations. Millennials have increased their use of the internet, smartphones, and tabs for educational purposes. These virtual learning platforms are widely accepted by young physicians and are expected to be the leading platforms in the future.
Based on providers, the global continuing medical education market is bifurcated into physician associations/NPOs, publishing/educational companies, the school of medicine, the hospital healthcare delivery system, and others.
The physician associations/NPOs segment is the most significant contributor to the market share and is anticipated to exhibit a CAGR of 5.91% over the forecast period. Physician membership organizations offer CME programs, and they are specifically tailored to the requirements of that specialization. For instance, the American Academy of Cardiology provides CME programs exclusively designed for the cardiology segment. These courses are specifically developed per the current trends. They offer high-quality, evidence-based CME programs in a variety of formats. In addition, these physician member associations also provide certain free CME programs to their members in the organizations. Certain associations provide memberships to physicians with good credit hours and CME credit scores.
Publishing and educational companies play a critical role among CME providers. Most pharma companies and medical device companies were funding CME activities. Various countries introduced laws to stop funding from companies to CME programs, as in most cases, CME programs were just used for marketing. This rule limited CME programs across the globe. CME programs require huge funds, and most physicians were not ready to pay out of pocket for these programs. These steps have increased publishing/educational companies in the market. Many start-ups have started developing innovative strategies to provide CME programs more effectively and economically through various platforms like online-based, cloud-based CME, mobile phone-based CME, live webinars, and more.
Based on specialty, the global continuing medical education market is segmented into oncology, cardiology, orthopedics, infectious disease, and others.
The oncology segment owns the highest market share and is projected to exhibit a CAGR of 6.80% during the forecast period. Cancer is among the leading reasons of death across the globe. There is increased interest among physicians regarding oncology-based CME programs. Increased target patients drive physicians to upgrade their skills to provide better treatments. There is a huge demand for the diagnosis of cancer patient-based CME programs. In addition, most patients discuss their symptoms with their general practitioners. Research has indicated that with early diagnostics, cancer can be cured. General physicians being the first point of contact for patients to discuss their symptoms, increased screening knowledge will help reduce the incidence of patient mortality due to cancer.
CME in the infectious disease segment is an important and useful activity to update knowledge about infectious disease specialization. Infectious diseases are one of the specializations that are rapidly advancing in terms of diagnostics and treatments. There is always a high demand for CME programs related to specializations in infectious diseases, especially regarding winter flu; season infections in respective regions will always demand the upgradation of knowledge and skill to handle the scenario. HAIs, virology sessions, emerging and re-emerging infectious diseases, STI vector-borne infections, and immunology are the most demanding CME specializations across the globe.
Based on region, the global continuing medical education market is bifurcated into North America, Europe, Asia-Pacific, Latin America, and the Middle East and Africa.
North America is the most significant global continuing medical education market shareholder and is anticipated to exhibit a CAGR of 5.18% during the forecast period. CME in North America is developed and more structured compared to other regions. There are required frameworks and guidelines for CME providers and participants. North America has many CME providers since it is a developed country, and the healthcare expenditure is covered by insurance. Insurance companies also play a major role in providing CME to increase their treatments' quality and reduce readmission rates. This also reduces healthcare expenditure for countries. In addition to insurance companies, many hospitals also offer CME programs. There are cases involving patients on live CME programs explaining their conditions and discussing with academic providers that offer better knowledge delivery to physicians. These innovative activities have increased the demand for CME programs in this region. Further, compulsory CME credit points for physicians are another important factor driving the market expansion in the region.
Europe is estimated to exhibit a CAGR of 6.87% over the forecast period. Europe plays a significant role in the global CME market. Unbalanced CME development in Europe has resulted in significant variations in approach and practice. The European Union of Medical Specialists (UEMS) follows the structure and facilitation of accreditation of CME/CPD activities to individual medical specialists throughout Europe. The situation in Europe is rapidly evolving. National authorities are developing accreditation standards, quality control measures, and disclosure and control of commercial funding processes. National CME accreditation agencies are scarce. In several European countries, different accreditation systems exist. CME credits, measured in terms of time spent studying, were introduced to protect the license when many European countries introduced mandated accreditation systems. The preferences of doctors attending CME programs are changing from personal interaction to online media. This trend raises e-CME programs to a higher level of attraction, boosting market growth.
Asia-Pacific is the fastest-growing player in the CME market and is home to a mixture of both developed and developing countries. It also has countries, such as India, which produce many physicians. There is no compulsion for CME credit points among physicians. In countries such as India, physicians only have a few credit points. This is one of the limiting factors in CME programs. Many physicians are migrating from Asia-Pacific to other regions for better employment. There is a huge demand for CME programs among these physicians. In addition, many upcoming CME educational companies and online start-ups are coming up to provide better CME programs. This region has a huge potential for the CME market in the future.
In the Latin American region, the strong increase in the physician workforce has provoked an emerging demand for CME to maintain and update medical competencies over the last decade. In order to validate the continuing competencies of physicians, several initiatives associated with revalidation, recertification, or maintenance of certification have emerged in line with similar processes experienced in the US, Canada, and the UK several decades ago. In addition, Brazil, Mexico, and Argentina are the dominant players in the Latin American CME market. However, countries such as Chile and smaller countries also play a significant role in CME.
The Middle East and Africa have a minimal share in the global CME market as physicians in the region face various challenges in accessing CME programs. The region still has a traditional method of classroom teaching CME programs compared with the online mode. Various NGOs and educational companies are developing new strategies to provide a better CME landscape in the region. The Middle East is focused on having one of the best healthcare infrastructures in their region, largely investing in building skilled healthcare professionals, including CME programs.
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