By Heather Clemons, MS, MBA, ATC, CHCP and Joenathan Rodriguez, MPH
Most CME providers want to assure that their CME activity fee schedules are competitive and appropriate for their market area. A periodic survey by the CME office is one good way to determine where you stand among other area providers. In an effort to develop a ‘fair market value’ registration fee schedule Sharp HealthCare did just such a survey via the SACME member listserv this past summer. Staff surveyed other CME/CPD professionals regarding their strategy and typical fee schedule. The survey focused on the typical calculation model, average per credit hour rates for those providers that charged for education. As a result of this information the Sharp HealthCare CME Department was able to develop a recommended registration fee schedule for both enduring and live activities.
A total of 69 respondents provided responses to the survey and of those 75% (52) reported that they charged a fee for CME activities. For those who do charge, determining what factors are included in the fee calculation are distributed across an array of fee models. The most popular model considers the learner’s affiliation and profession and the number of credit hours offered (21%, n=10). The profession of the learner is the most frequently used model consideration based on the survey results with the top 5 models including it. In cases where a fee for service schedule is used, these factors may or may not be relevant. (Click here to review complete survey results and comments.)
The other factor that impacts the fee calculation is whether the activity is enduring material (online module), a webinar, a course, or a conference. The results show that 85% (45 of 53) of respondents charge different fees for different event types. Considering all these factors, the most common per credit hour fee rates selected were $15 – $25 (45%) and $30 – $45 (37%).
Setting a fee schedule is a complex endeavor that is influenced by a number of factors. While this basic survey did not explore the topic in depth, it did provide some basic guidelines that providers can consider when developing their own schedules. At the end of the day, the biggest factor may be whether or not the provider has the authority and autonomy to set per activity fees. Many comments highlighted the impact that faculty, activity committees, and clinical departments have on registration rates, along with other challenges to developing a consistent system.
Heather L. Clemons, MS, MBA, ATC, CHCP, is Lead CME Associate, Sharp HealthCare and Joenathan Rodriguez, MPH is a CME Associate, Sharp HealthCare, San Diego, CA. Heather.Clemons@sharp.com