The AAFP is supporting two proposals recently made by the Accreditation Council for Continuing Medical Education, or ACCME. One would modify the ACCME's complaints and inquiries process with the aim of balancing transparency in the CME enterprise with CME providers' confidentiality. The other would acknowledge that CME should facilitate changes in knowledge, competence, performance and/or patient outcomes.
In January, the ACCME put out a call for comment on a proposal to address its process for handling complaints and inquiries(www.accme.org) about ACCME-accredited CME providers. That proposal comprises three points:
- the identity of CME providers with an activity found in noncompliance through the complaints and inquiries process will remain confidential;
- when the accreditation status of a provider changes as a result of that process, the new status will be made public, but the reason for the change in status will not be disclosed; and
- the ACCME will make public some of the facts, circumstances and findings of the process in a form and manner that is instructive to providers and stakeholders without linking the information to a particular accredited provider.
In a Feb. 11 letter to ACCME Chief Executive Murray Kopelow, M.D., the AAFP said it recognizes that it is vital for the ACCME to share with accredited CME provider organizations any summaries of the facts, circumstances and findings from its complaints and inquiries process. However, the Academy said it agrees that maintaining the confidentiality of the provider is appropriate.
In addition, the Academy said it supports the ACCME's view that if and when an investigation results in a change in the accreditation status of a provider, it is appropriate to provide that information to the public.
In January 2009, the ACCME updated its complaints and inquiries process to state that the ACCME reserves the right to make public some information, including the nature of the complaint and the outcome of the ACCME's inquiry.
The ACCME has since received feedback from some stakeholders who asked for more transparency; others were concerned about providers' confidentiality. The current proposal attempts to balance those two principles, the ACCME has said.
In a second call for comment regarding knowledge-based CME activities, the ACCME asked the CME community if it should again add the word "knowledge" into certain criteria.
Criteria 1, for example, would read: "The provider has a CME mission statement that includes all of the basic components (CME purpose, content areas, target audience, type of activities, expected results) with expected results articulated in terms of changes in knowledge, competence, performance or patient outcomes that will be the result of the program."
The AAFP said in its letter that the addition "is an appropriate way to explicitly acknowledge the need for continuing medical education that facilitates changes in knowledge, competence, performance and/or patient outcomes."
The Academy also said that it recognizes that accredited CME providers have a responsibility to provide not just knowledge-based CME but also performance improvement CME and other methods for facilitating continuous professional development.
"The AAFP applauds ACCME's intention to convey through its accreditation criteria the importance of designing interventions that measurably affect health care professional knowledge, competence, performance and/or patient outcomes," the letter said.