The ACCME is accountable to the public for setting and maintaining accreditation requirements that are designed to ensure that CME accredited within the ACCME system is based on valid content, is free from commercial influence or bias, and contributes to the quality and safety of health care. As the US health care system continues to evolve, the ACCME will respond by making changes to its requirements or processes that are necessary to assure that CME serves the best interests of the public.
The ACCME accreditation system is based on a model of self-regulation, peer evaluation, and quality assurance. The ACCME has a rigorous, multilevel process for making accreditation and reaccreditation decisions. These decisions are determined through a review by two ACCME committees: first, the Accreditation Review Committee, and second, the Decision Committee of the Board of Directors. All accreditation decisions are then ratified by the full Board of Directors. Throughout the process, the ACCME staff members provide support and guidance to committee members. This multitiered process provides the checks and balances necessary to ensure fair and accurate decisions. The ACCME implements quality-control measures to ensure that accreditation decisions are consistent and impartial.
Accredited providers are reviewed every four or six years. Each year, the ACCME reviews approximately 200 CME providers, representing about 30 percent of the provider pool. As another measure of accountability, the ACCME has a Process for Handling Complaints Regarding ACCME-Accredited Providers to respond to complaints from the public and the CME community about ACCME-accredited providers’ compliance with accreditation requirements. If an accredited provider’s compliance is called into question, either through the complaints process or another means, the ACCME may initiate monitoring procedures in addition to the standard accreditation review process.
As the health care environment evolves, the ACCME responds by taking steps to increase the transparency and accountability of the ACCME accreditation system, to strengthen the requirements concerning CME’s independence from commercial influence, and to accelerate the enforcement of those requirements.
During the past few years, the ACCME
• published more information about ACCME-accredited providers, including whether or not they accept commercial support,
• published more data about accreditation decisions and compliance findings,
• accelerated the improvement process for accredited providers found in noncompliance,
• revised its complaints process to balance transparency with confidentiality and include CME providers’ responsibilities to learners, and
• expanded the definition of a commercial interest to further safeguard the separation of promotion from education.
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Policies Supplementing the Standards for Commercial Support
News Release: Accredited CME Providers Restructure to Ensure Compliance with ACCME Independence Policies
News Release: Accreditation Council for CME Includes Providers' Responsibilities to Learners in Complaints Process
News Release: Accreditation Council for CME Revises Complaints Process
Audio Commentary: Increasing Accountability in the ACCME Complaints Process
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