Workshop Symposia

Needs Assessment: Personal Perspectives and the Role of EMR – How to Improve Needs Assessment in Continuing Medical Education (W028)

Dr Doug Klein (Department of Family Medicine, University of Alberta); Lawrence Sherman, FACME, CCMEP (Prova Education)


With strong evidence that physicians are poor at self-assessing their skills and learning needs, a different approach to needs assessment is required. New tools of Electronic Medical Records (EMRs) can improve and evolve needs assessment to develop better and more relevant content for CME. This session will demonstrate several innovative methods for improving needs assessment for CME.


Traditional needs assessment used in developing continuing medical education programs typically relies on surveying physicians and tends to only capture perceived learning needs. The purpose of this workshop is to describe and demonstrate tools that can enhance needs assessments in continuing medical education and provide participants the opportunity to try these tools and see them in action.


This workshop will be a highly interactive session with audience participation and live demonstration of the use of EMRs in CME Needs Assessment. An innovative audit program piloted in Alberta, Canada with family physicians will be described. Twenty-six family practices serving 4489 patients have been audited to date. Completion rates for interventions ranged from 13% for ensuring a patient’s tetanus vaccine is current to 97% of pregnant patients receiving recommended prenatal vitamins. Detailed results from this audit process and its feasibility will be discussed. In addition, live twitter feed will connect those who are not able to attend with a real-time dialogue allowing them to send comments and questions for the attendees from geographically distinct location.

Expected Outcomes for Participants

  1. Recognized limitation of traditional needs assessment methods
  2. Develop an understanding new technology and the evidence supporting electronic audit that can be used in the area of needs assessment
  3. The participants will experience and become familiar with several tools in the field of Electronic Medical Records and how they can help with needs assessment in medical education.

Funding Sources



  1. Balas et al. Effect of physician profiling on utilization. Meta-analysis of randomized control trials. Journal of General Internal Medicine. 1996; 11: 584-90.
  2. DavisDetal.Accuracyofphysicianself-assessmentcomparedwithobservedmeasuresofcompetence: A systematic review. JAMA. 2006; 296:1094-1102.
  3. Jamtvedt G, Young JM, Kristoffersen DT, O’Brien MA, Oxman AD. Audit and feedback: effects of professional practice and health care outcomes. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews, 2006. Apr 19;(2):CD000259.