CMEpalooza Fall Wrap Up

When I put together the first CMEpalooza back in March, I fully admit that a large part of doing it was to prove a point: You don’t have to spend a lot of money to produce a pretty good continuing education program.

Mission accomplished.

With CMEpalooza Fall, Scott and I wanted to move beyond just proving a point and producing something that was “pretty good.” Our goal this time around was to improve the educational experience for those watching and to provide something of real value to the continuing healthcare education community. Judging from the feedback we have received about last week’s event, I believe we can say that we succeeded.

But before I put too much strain on the ol’ rotator cuff patting myself on the back, I’d like to offer up a few thank yous.

Thank you to all of our panelists. Really, I don’t think we could have asked for a better group. If you’re looking for an advantage between holding a virtual vs. a live conference, look no further than the panelists we were able to line up. I have absolutely no doubt that the only reason some of our panelists agreed to participate was the fact that they could do it from their home/office and not have to travel. That’s a huge plus.

I also want to thank our panelists for their patience in learning a technology that few of them had used prior to CMEpalooza and dealing with the goofballs running the program. Poor Christopher Drake patiently spent 40 minutes on a practice Hangout with me while I tried to figure out why his audio wasn’t working, only to discover the next day that I had my laptop muted the entire time. The lesson, as always, is that I’m an idiot.

Thank you to our moderators. A big reason that CMEpalooza went as well as it did was the fantastic work of the moderators. I admit to being slightly nervous as to how seriously they would take their role considering that many of them had no idea what CMEpalooza or a Hangout was. But every single one of them proved to be adaptable to the format and did a marvelous job of directing the conversation. Several folks mentioned that one of the things they most appreciated about CMEpalooza was the difference in tone of the conversations — both more casual and candid than the typical conference. That is a direct result of the work of the moderators to encourage that type of conversation (I also think it’s a result of the panelists not being able to see an actual audience…).

Thank you to my co-producer, Scott. Yeah, yeah, I’m not going to get too mushy here, but I do want to give credit where credit is due. After the initial Palooza, Scott is the one who came to me with the idea of doing another one with only panel sessions in order to better utilize the Hangout format for its intended purpose. He was right, and CMEpalooza Fall was a better program as a result. Kudos to him (side note: in case you ever get concerned that we take CMEpalooza too seriously, just ask to read our supposedly CMEpalooza-related email exchanges sometime. Recent conversations included an argument over whether or not Cool Ranch Cheetos do, in fact, exist, along with one where Scott called me a “waffler” and I responded with a Homer Simpson-esque “mmmm…waffles.” It’s amazing we get anything accomplished.)

Thank you to all of you who watched CMEpalooza Fall. It goes without saying that this is the most important thank you of all. I was truly blown away by the number of viewers for CMEpalooza and the amount of individuals who completed the survey (for more specifics, you can read the post Scott wrote earlier in the week). The fact that the website had over 400 unique visitors on the day of CMEpalooza Fall is just stunning to me. If ever you need a reason to believe in the power of social media, consider this: the majority of the marketing for CMEpalooza Fall was done via four social media outlets (Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, blog). We were also really thrilled with the increased amount of questions and interaction from the audience this time around. I think the inclusion of a texting line to send in questions helped, but I also think people were a little more willing to try out Twitter and Google+ this time. Plus, there were just more people watching to send in questions.

And last, but certainly not least, a big thank you to our sponsors. I realize this is where everyone rolls their eyes and thinks, “Oh, great – he’s pandering to the sponsors now. BORING!” so I’ll keep it brief. It’s not an easy decision to support a conference where, when you ask the guys in charge to tell you how many people participated last year and how many you expect this year, they shrug their shoulders and tell you, “We’re not sure.” I am thankful for those who took a chance on sponsoring CMEpalooza and I hope they’re happy with the results.

Thanks again to all of you. This was fun. How about we all do it again in the spring?

CMEpalooza Fall… By the Numbers

In the months leading up to CMEpalooza Fall, we were often asked, “How many people attended the inaugural spring CMEpalooza? And how many do you expect at this one?”

Our answers? “We’re really not sure.” And, “We’re really not sure.”

So much for a data-driven industry.

This time around, however, we have a much better handle on these sorts of things. And 7 hours of education later (with a few days to decompress and let the numbers sink in), we’re happy to report the following:

  • The CMEpalooza website attracted 449 unique visitors and 3,042 page views on the day of the event, both daily records for the site.
  • There were between 64 and 103 live viewers at any given time for our 7 sessions (note: one viewer can sometimes equal greater than one participant. See first bullet point under the survey data description below). The most viewed live panel was our “Have We Forgotten About the Content in Continuing Medical Education?” session. On average, the live audience for CMEpalooza was about double what we saw for the spring event.
  • According to YouTube, there have been 1,343 views of our sessions. Currently, the most viewed session is “The Future of CME: What Will CME/CPD Look Like in 5-10 Years?”
  • Since we announced the date and format of CMEpalooza Fall on May 13, we had 10,388 page views to this website. Some days (namely, the weekends), we only had 10-20 folks who came to the site, while most weekdays, especially when new content was made available, we ranged between 50-150 page views.

In addition to this raw data, we also received completed surveys from 116 individuals (thank you to all of them). If you didn’t complete one, there is still time. Go here.

Here is what we learned so far:

  • Of the survey cohort, the majority (90%) watched CMEpalooza alone, although there were several large groups, some with as many as 25 individuals who gathered to marvel at the wisdom of our panelists.
  • Our audience was diverse, with 38% from medical education companies, 12% from both hospitals and medical schools, 8% from both industry and medical associations/foundations, 7% from medical specialty societies, and 16% from the mysterious “other” category
  • People gave us a lot of feedback about CMEpalooza Fall, such as:

I think it would be nice to have some presentations on the nuts and bolts of things, like QI – maybe the project manager who actually worked through the QI project and not the CEO or Dean who just oversaw the process. (Our response: Yes, always good to remember that people in the trenches have lots to teach as well)

I think this is a great initiative — steep climb to make changes in entrenched system (Our response: The more we do it, the easier the climb)

Can’t afford to attend in person meetings for CME education/providers so this is so welcome and appreciated! (Our response: The “free” thing is good for sure)

CMEpalooza Fall is AWESOME (Our response: With a capital ‘A’)

Need more controversy! How about a debate next year? (Our response: Next year? There is going to be a next year? Well, OK, if you insist)

I love eggs (Our response: We love bacon)

Number of times the word “love” was used in feedback for CMEpalooza Fall: 8 (Our response: You’re pretty OK, too!)

As with any robust data set, there are many ways these numbers can be cut up and presented, and we’ll likely do some cutting to get a better handle on our audience as we attempt to build on our success for next year (wait, next year? There’s going to be a next year? OK, fine, fine).

And Now…CMEpalooza Jokes

A full blog post and thank you will be coming sometime next week, so, in lieu of anything more substantial, here are the jokes people submitted into our survey.


A pair of jumper cables walks into a bar. The bartender says, “I’ll serve you, but don’t start anything!”


Where do sick boats go? The dock!


CFO to CEO: “What happens if we go to the expense of training these people and they leave?” CEO’s response: “What if we don’t and they stay?”


Q: What’s brown and sticky? A: A stick!


I didn’t say they were good jokes. Anyway, if any of you participated in CMEpalooza Fall on Wednesday and didn’t complete our (very short) survey, we’d be ever so grateful if you clicked this link and did so.

Have a great weekend everyone!


Where Do I Watch CMEpalooza Fall?

Where do I watch CMEpalooza Fall?
You watch it on the LIVE page.

Will people be able to hear me on the Hangout?
No. You are not on the Hangout. You are only watching a video feed of the Hangout. You can sing Ave Maria at the top of your lungs and no one will hear you except your neighbors (who might call the police who might interrupt you while watching CMEpalooza so don’t sing Ave Maria at the top of your lungs while watching CMEpalooza).

Can I watch CMEpalooza Fall at the office?

Can I watch CMEpalooza Fall at home?

Can I watch CMEpalooza Fall in a conference room with 10 other people?
Please do.

Can I watch CMEpalooza Fall from the top of the Empire State Building while jugging flaming torches and drinking a grape slushee?
I don’t know how the wi-fi is up there, but sure.

Do I have to pay anything to watch CMEpalooza?

Do I have to pre-register or register?

Do I have to take a survey afterward?
Well, you don’t have to, but it would be nice if you did. It’s only 5 questions and shouldn’t take you more than 30 seconds. If it does take you more than 30 seconds, you’re putting too much effort into it.

Do I have to watch all the sessions?
Nope. Watch what interests you.

What if I’m busy tomorrow?
All the sessions will be archived, probably by the end of the day.

What, Me Worry?

I just got back from the annual conference of the American Medical Writers Association in Memphis (still scarred by hearing the Saturday night band at BB King’s Blues Club lead with “Celebration” by Kool and the Gang. And it only got worse. It was like a awful wedding. But I digress).

One of the sessions I led at the conference focused on ways that Google Hangout and Hangout On Air can be used in personal and professional circles. During the session, I “beamed in” two writers from opposite coasts to lend additional perspective to the discussion and to demonstrate to the audience how Hangouts work and what they look like.

The main takeaway of the audience? “Wow, that was easy!”

I wasn’t surprised. It’s the same reaction we got from a number of our panelists who had never participated in a Hangout before our test run. Apparently, something new and different automatically carries with it the assumption of a steep learning curve. Is that the way we all looked at cell phones the first time one was thrust in front of us? I honestly don’t remember.

A few technology providers have contacted Derek and I over the last few weeks offering their platforms in case something goes wrong with the Hangouts. I’m not here to malign or undervalue any of these providers (and watch as our thousands of viewers crash “the Google” on Wednesday after I’ve said this), but there really is very little that Derek and I are worried about on the technology front. We have both used Hangouts dozens of times for personal and professional purposes with very little problem. Sure, there are minor issues that crop up from time to time, but it’s rarely more than making sure the audio on your computer isn’t muted.

We’re now a little less than 48 hours away from the start of CMEpalooza, and we’re about as ready as we can be. Our moderators and panelists have come up with some great agendas and discussion guides to keep them on track.

We hope that what they say both surprises and engages you.

We hope that you take the opportunity to ask questions and interact with our panelists — we’ll remind you how to do this at the start of each session.

We hope that you gather your colleagues around you to watch a session or two, and then discuss what it means to your organization.

And we hope, at the end of the day, that you say, “Wow, that was easy!”

CMEpalooza Warm-Up

Just a quick post today to invite anyone/everyone to participate in our CMEpalooza Warm-Up on October 7 at 11 AM ET. It will be very informal — just Scott and I chatting about CMEpalooza via a Google Hangout. We’ll give a brief overview & demo of how things will work the day of the palooza and have a little time for Q&A with the “audience”. The Warm-Up will stream live from the LIVE page (duh) on the website, so you can watch and ask questions live or watch the archived versionlater on. I hope that some of you can join us!

Only Two Weeks Until CMEpalooza Fall? Holy Schnikes!

I woke up this morning and my first thought is now the title of this post (Blogging Rule #154: anytime one can work a Tommy Boy reference into the title of a blog post, one is required to do so). But, to be perfectly honest, everything is coming together quite nicely and we could do it today if need be (fortunately, need does not be, so we’ll stay with the planned date). There have been a few little A/V bumps during our training Hangout sessions with the panelists, but we have always been able to work out a solution and we should be good to go on the 15th.

In our final newsletter before CMEpalooza Fall (which you can read here), we cover what to expect during the program, answer a few common questions we have received over the past few months, and welcome our three newest sponsors – MedPageToday (a silver-level sponsor), along with Educational Measures and Mededicus (bronze-level sponsors). Give it a read if you haven’t had a chance to do so, yet.

One question we didn’t cover is when the archive of all the sessions will be available. In an ideal world, we will have the archive posted within 60 minutes of the session ending. That’s our ultimate goal. However, we do not live in an ideal world (as evidence, I submit to you that no one has yet merged Cool Ranch Doritos with Cheetos to create Cool Ranch Cheetos. That would only happen in an ideal world. But I digress…),  so the best I can say is that we hope to have up an archive within an hour of the session, but acknowledge that it might not happen that quickly if things get too chaotic. At most, they will be up within 24 hours, probably in a similar fashion as to how we did in March with the original CMEpalooza.

As always, feel free to contact Scott or I with any questions. Hope to see you all in two weeks!

Introducing the MedPageToday Text Line

Several weeks ago I participated in a panel session on the topic of Breaking the Mold–Forward Thinking Teaching Models and Technology Advances at the CBI Independent Medical Education and Grants Breakthrough Summit. In preparation for that session, I conducted a poll on my The CME Guy Facebook page, asking individuals to share their preferred means of rapid, one-on-one communication. I got approximately 30 responses — and some folks went into extensive detail, even though it was supposed to be a simple multiple-choice selection — but it was quite clear that texting was far and away the most commonly preferred option (you can read the responses here).

As I read through all the responses, the gears in my brain shook off all the rust that had started to gather and slowly began to creak into action. They turned…and turned…and turned…and turned…and turned…and then...light bulb!: We should figure out a way for participants to text in questions to CMEpalooza!

The biggest issue I had with the first iteration of CMEpalooza was the lack of interaction between participants and faculty. There were a few questions sent in via the Google+ Q&A app and the #CMEpalooza Twitter hashtag, but some sessions had no questions and I had generally hoped for more. I knew going in to it that getting questions might be a struggle; the Q&A app requires users to have a Google+ account and Twitter usage in the CME community is not exactly robust.

That is why I am thrilled to announce the newly established MedPageToday Text Line. All participants of CMEpalooza Fall are encouraged to text any questions they have to 267-666-0CME (0263) and we will relay the questions to the panelists (standard texting rates apply, blah, blah, blah). Participants can still send in questions via the Q&A app or Twitter if they prefer, but I’m hopeful that the availability of a text line will give even more participants a level of comfort to send in their questions. Many thanks to MedPageToday for their sponsorship of CMEpalooza Fall and making this possible.

So remember: 267-666-0CME. 267-666-0CME. 267-666-0CME. Can someone make this into a catchy jingle for us?

5 Questions with… John Ruggiero

Today, we catch up with John Ruggiero, PhD, CCMEP, Senior Medical Education Manager in the Independent Medical Education Department at Genentech. John will be chairing our 1 p.m. session entitled, “What Do Supporters Do With Outcomes Data?” This session is sponsored by Imedex.

A few of John’s insights:

Why are you optimistic about the future of CME?

I am really encouraged that so many people within our industry are starting to talk about engagement with learning. Especially with issues such as healthcare reform, we need to start focusing on what it takes to be implementation science managers or start talking the language of implementation science so that we can start addressing tactics or activities that are related to engagement and learning.

So, (it’s a question of) what kinds of CME programs can be done? What kinds of patient education pieces can be done? What kind of peer-to-peer interactions can we all be part of?

What scares you about the future of CME?

We have an industry of professionals who are greatly skilled on continuing education who are sometimes overly focused on some of the issues that we should leave to other experts. For example, I hear a lot about Sunshine Act and how Sunshine Act is going to impact our industry. Obviously, it’s a relevant concern, but these are issues that I think we can get past. We need to focus on more relevant issues like quality improvement and clinical integration and things along the lines of engagement of learning.

What do you feel has been most important change to CME in last 5 years?

I’m really encouraged to see that outcomes plans have been enhanced. I’m happy to see that people aren’t just using Moore’s 7 levels of outcomes, but are using that and moving forward with things to add to those metrics. Looking at national quality service pillars and expectations that are mandated by the federal government. Seeing how the national quality health strategies can be incorporated into medical education programs or engagement in learning tactics.

Check out John’s full interview below: