ACCME’s Menu of New Criteria for Accreditation with Commendation

By Graham McMahon, MD, MMSc, President and CEO, ACCME

Our goal at ACCME is to encourage and reward accredited CME providers for implementing best practices in pedagogy, engagement, evaluation and change management, and for focusing on generating meaningful outcomes. Following our extended comment period and resulting deliberation, we have aimed to reflect the work that so many of you are doing in our new commendation criteria that were launched in September. These criteria are our mechanism for recognizing and celebrating organizations that excel as CME providers.

The newly evolved criteria reflect the values, principles and aspirations that the community of educators shared with us over the past several years. The new criteria incorporate recommendations from a diverse range of stakeholders — including members of the Alliance — about how to advance CME’s role in the changing health environment and leverage the power of education to improve healthcare. We listened to the community’s extensive feedback and the final version is designed to be both achievable and meaningful.

These commendation criteria are designed to serve as a guidepost for the future of CME. In them we sought — and will continue to seek — to recognize the achievements of organizations that advance interprofessional collaborative practice, address public health priorities, create behavioral change, show leadership, leverage educational technology, and demonstrate the impact of education on healthcare professionals and patients.

The new criteria reflect many of the evolving and increased expectations of learners; pursuing these best practices is likely to help accredited educational providers to address and anticipate evolving learner needs now and in the years to come.

The Menu Approach: Pathway to Commendation for All CME Provider Types
We adopted the menu approach to create flexibility, reflect the diversity of the CME community and offer a pathway for all CME provider types to achieve Accreditation with Commendation. There are 16 new commendation criteria, divided into 5 categories:

  • Promotes Team-based Education
  • Addresses Public Health Priorities
  • Enhances Skills
  • Demonstrates Educational Leadership
  • Achieves Outcomes

To be eligible for commendation, providers will need to demonstrate compliance with any seven criteria of their choice, from any category — plus at least one criterion from the Achieves Outcomes category — for a total of eight criteria. We determined that one criterion from the achieved outcomes category should be mandatory for achieving commendation because it’s important that the CME community demonstrate the relevance, value, and impact of CME. In addition, assessing outcomes from CME will enable us, as a community, to identify more effective ways of delivering CME and contributing to healthcare improvement.

Each criterion is accompanied by a rationale, critical elements, and standards. Some of the criteria are activity-based, and some are program-based. For some of the criteria, we have established a sliding scale designed to accommodate CME programs of different sizes.

It’s Optional
As with the existing commendation criteria, compliance with the new commendation criteria is optional for CME providers and is not required to achieve Accreditation. Providers will continue to achieve and retain Accreditation by demonstrating compliance with Accreditation Criteria 1–13.

Transition Phase
There will be a transition phase during which accredited providers that choose to aim to achieve Accreditation with Commendation will have the option of demonstrating compliance with all of the current criteria (C16-22) or the new commendation criteria menu (C23-C38). This phase will apply to providers that will receive accreditation decisions between November 2017 and November 2019. (State-accredited providers: Please check with your Recognized Accreditor for more information about the timeline for your state.)

The transition phase will serve two purposes: It will ensure that CME providers that have been working to achieve or sustain commendation under the current criteria will continue to have that opportunity; and it will give providers time to prepare to meet the expectations of the new criteria.

Resources and Support from ACCME
The staff at ACCME are here to help. We plan to do everything we can to support the CME community’s successful adoption of the new criteria and the evolution of your educational strategies to reflect best practices. Please visit our website for the following resources:

  • Menu of New Criteria for Accreditation with Commendation: This PDF includes the new criteria, a Message from the ACCME, and explanatory information
  • Introduction to the Menu of New Criteria for Accreditation with Commendation: Video commentary with Graham McMahon, MD, MMSc, President and CEO, ACCME
  • Introductory Webinar — Menu of New Criteria for Accreditation with Commendation: In this archived webinar, we explain the criteria and answer providers’ questions.
  • Ask ACCME about the Menu of New Criteria for Accreditation with Commendation
  • Webpage: Menu of New Criteria for Accreditation with Commendation: Visit this webpage for updated information and links to relevant materials.

In the coming months, we will deliver educational resources and training for our stakeholders including Recognized Accreditors, accredited CME providers, and volunteers. We hope that you will help us to help you by sharing your questions and ideas for tools and resources, as well as by sharing best practices with which you are already engaged.

We appreciate the CME community’s high level of participation in this process and look forward to working together to ensure our community’s successful implementation of the new criteria to achieve our shared goal of advancing quality and achieving outcomes in post-graduate medical education.

Commendation Criteria FAQ
Who is eligible for Accreditation with Commendation using the menu of new criteria?

The Menu of New Criteria for Accreditation with Commendation can be used by any ACCME-accredited and state-accredited providers that are eligible to apply for Accreditation with Commendation. There is no change to requirements for Joint Accreditation™ for Interprofessional Continuing Education.

Can the same CME activity, or activities, be used to demonstrate compliance with the critical elements and standard(s) for multiple criteria?
Yes. There are no limitations on the provider using data/information from their CME activities to support compliance with appropriate critical elements and standards for criteria in the menu approach.

What is an interprofessional team?
An interprofessional team is comprised of team members from two or more professions (e.g., nurses and physicians, physicians and community health workers, social workers and psychologists, pharmacists and respiratory therapists) who learn with, from, and about each other to enable effective collaboration and improve health outcomes.

What is the definition of population health and population health issues in Criterion 28?
Population health refers to the health of a population as measured by health status indicators and as influenced by factors such as the social, economic and physical environments, personal health practices, individual capacity and coping skills, and health services (Dunn and Hayes, 1999). Population health issues are the specific illnesses or health problems prevalent within a specific community or group of individuals.

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ACCME Updates
CME that Counts for MOC
More than 4,000 CME-accredited activities have been registered for the American Board of Internal Medicine’s Maintenance of Certification (ABIM MOC) program just one year after the launch of the ABIM/ACCME collaboration. Congratulations to the CME community for helping physicians fulfill their professional requirements! By spring 2017, ABIM and ACCME plan to recognize more accredited CME for MOC. In addition to Medical Knowledge activities, physicians will be able to earn MOC points for Practice Assessment activities and blended activities that earn both Medical Knowledge and Practice Assessment MOC points.

The ACCME has also collaborated with the American Board of Anesthesiology (ABA) and the American Board of Pediatrics (ABP) to simplify the integration of accredited CME and MOC. We expect to have the processes open for accredited CME providers later this fall.

CME Finder
CME Finder, an improved web-based tool to search for CME opportunities is now available on the ACCME website. This tool provides information for each CME-accredited activity that is registered for ABIM MOC credit, and for activities that are compliant with the Food and Drug Administration Extended-Release and Long-Acting Opioid Analgesics Risk Evaluation and Mitigation Strategy.

AMA/ACCME Alignment
The ACCME and the American Medical Association (AMA) are pleased to announce that they are progressing in their ongoing collaborative effort to align the two systems. The purpose of the collaboration is to adopt a single set of core principles that will serve to facilitate flexibility in educational design, encourage innovation, and enhance physician education by aligning ACCME and AMA’s expectations of CME providers.

ACCME 2017 Meeting
Registration is open for the ACCME 2017 Meeting, April 24–27, 2017 in Chicago. ACCME 2017 will offer opportunities to engage with ACCME staff, expert faculty, and colleagues to give you the tools and tactics you need for accredited CME to be a strategic asset for organizational improvement. In-depth sessions will focus on the Menu of New Criteria for Accreditation with Commendation, CME for MOC, addressing public health imperatives, improving CME effectiveness, and much more.


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