Medical education and certainly medical conferences are in desperate need of disruptive innovation if they are going to live up to the expectation of fostering lifelong learning among their members.
In a few weeks I will receive a few hundred page book from the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons. It will contain listings of hundreds of lectures, and thousands of abstracts and specialty Q and A sessions. That’s where the stress level rises… and my desire to even glance at the offering wanes. In this early era of BIG integrated data, this simply does not need to be the case.
- my prior years preferences.
- my area of specialization.
- the CME courses I’ve attended.
- They’ve NEVER asked me which subject matter interests me most.
- They’re never asked for my twitter handle… and thus access to my feed and keywords from the API.
- And I could go on an on.
The end result, which should be to enhance my lifelong learning experiences… is instead a stressful trip to a far off city where my primary objective is to rekindle old friendships and see how my buddies are doing who I trained with.
I already don’t have enough time to read all the relevant Orthopedic literature I want to consume. How does the AAOS expect me to page through a 100+ pages to find a course or two that might interest me… and then decipher whether or not they are in different tracks and don’t interfere with each other.
As John Hagel and his co-authors of “The Power of Pull” highlight… this is a classic example of the failing power of “push” technologies in our hyper-connected world of information overload where the sheer volume of content available exceeds the cognitive capacity of each and every physician. The leaders of the Academy represent the very incumbents of the core where the old ways of thinking are constantly kicked around and can stem the innovative flow of ideas that are needed to form the relationships with the key fringe players necessary to remain a viable institution going forward — and lead to failure of their main objective… to enhance the knowledge of their base. In all due respect to our leaders, our needs can no longer be anticipated and shaped by this centralized, siloed set of decision makers. The Power of Pull needs to be embraced!
Times are different… and the velocity of information exchange and our mechanisms for learning and sharing this vast amount of information is changing and evolving rapidly. Our relationships are no longer geographically limited. No matter our passion, it is not difficult to find others, with similar passions and goals throughout the world. When we interact with our social network, we are constantly introduced to our networks contacts and they form our fringe contacts… which serendipitously could lead to learning about a new process, a new device, a new procedure… or even a course I was not even aware was being offered. It is along this fringe where the innovation in knowledge and learning is going to evolve. Our outer circles of our social network will drive this… without overt effort. It will occur organically as we share, teach and learn from one another.
There is no question that these large mega meetings will go the way of the dinosaurs. They are simply too large, too poorly focused, and do not offer the opportunity for a physician to engage in true lifelong learning capabilities which are narrowly focused in areas where we have a particular interest in.
This years meeting in Chicago will arrive, we will depart, we will view the conference center with 5000 abstracts and many of us will wander the halls aimlessly wondering which of the thousands of scientific presentations we should in fact attend. Analysis paralysis will render many to continually wander the halls or see the sites of Chicago.
There is a far better way of doing this …And we do not have to look far beyond the confines of both Amazon, iTunes and a socially rooted, network oriented path to guide our members and reveal to them how painfully clear and how simple this process of information curation can be. Yes, I should have access to “the book” … but leading off should be a customized proposed agenda for a course structure I might find interesting based upon my previous course choices, area of specialty, keyword mining and the results of a well constructed poll. This is the difference between push and pull applications. This has been discussed before and is nothing new. It is simply time for the medical education process to come into the Internet century and certainly into the new media century where physicians will be offered courses and scientific data that they have shown interest in the past. We can do better. We must strive to do better. It’s in everyone’s best interest.