ACCME Implements New, Tiered Structure for Annual Accreditation Fee

Beginning in 2020 the ACCME is implementing a new, tiered structure for the annual accreditation fee paid by ACCME-accredited providers. We are moving to a tiered fee structure in response to suggestions from the accredited provider community and to better distribute the responsibility for sustaining our system more fairly among accredited programs of different sizes. A tiered fee structure will enable us to improve services for you, better help you meet the needs of your learners, and ensure that accredited CME continues to be valued and effective in the rapidly evolving healthcare environment. 

How the New Fee Structure Works

As shown in the table below, there are four fee tiers, from Tier 1, comprising the smallest programs, to Tier 4, comprising the largest programs. Program size is based on the average number of activities or learner interactions, whichever is greater, over the past three years. We used data that providers entered into the Program and Activity Reporting System (PARS) for the 2016–2018 reporting years to assign tiers for the 2020 and 2021 annual accreditation fees.

Table 1. Tiered Fee Structure for ACCME-Accredited Providers, 2020–2021

Tier Approximate Percentile Average Activities Per Year Average Learner Interactions Per Year ACCME-Accredited Providers: 2020 and 2021 Annual Accreditation Fee
Tier 1 Lowest half <29 <2,685 $5,900 per year
Tier 2 50-75% 29-79 2,685-8,519 $6,500 per year
Tier 3 76-95% 80-260 8,520-43,687 $7,500 per year
Tier 4 Top 5% >260 >43,687 $10,000 per year

 

The fees will be in place for two years; the ACCME may change the fees after that time. If your organization was newly accredited by ACCME, we have used data from the most current year to determine your tier; the ACCME may change the 2021 fee based on 2019 data reported in PARS.  

The tiered structure applies only to annual accreditation fees. Fees for other accreditation services (extensions, pre-applications, and initial accreditation) will continue to be assessed on a flat fee basis. The fee schedule is posted here.

Why We Changed Our Fee Structure

The ACCME is responsible for maintaining a national system of balanced, evidence-based continuing education that effectively meets the needs of clinicians and the expectations of the public, and that flexibly adapts to the evolving healthcare environment. To do so, we must make substantial investments in our processes, data systems, and services. We rely on annual accreditation fees as our major source (69 percent) of yearly revenue. We operate with a closely balanced, conservative budget, using our revenues to achieve our strategic goals. After careful deliberations and analysis of our data, the ACCME executive leadership and Board of Directors determined that implementing a tiered accreditation fee structure is necessary to allow us to continue to fulfill our strategic responsibilities.

We have heard from providers that charging the same annual accreditation fee to all organizations regardless of CME program size is becoming increasingly burdensome for smaller, under-resourced providers. Mergers and acquisitions, particularly in the hospital and health system sector, mean that large organizations consolidate the accreditation of multiple smaller CME programs under one umbrella. This trend is reducing the number of providers and driving greater size disparity among providers.

We believe the diversity of our provider community is one of our greatest strengths and we are committed to supporting the success of all our providers. This tiered structure will be fairer and more sustainable, allowing us to keep fee increases modest for smaller providers (with no increase for the smallest providers in the next two years). Larger providers will contribute more; in return they will continue to see added value, as they are the greatest beneficiaries of the streamlined online accreditation management system and the alignment between the ACCME and other regulatory bodies, including certifying and licensing boards.

How We are Working to Support You

The revenue from your annual accreditation fee supports the goals described in our strategic plan, Transforming Education to Improve Health, including continued enhancements to data systems and services. We are working hard to support you through the following initiatives:

  • Advocacy for the value of accredited CME to health leaders, government agencies, and other stakeholders to encourage resourcing and recognition of CME programs
  • Protecting the reputation of accredited CME through interactions with the government and other regulatory authorities, the media, and national forums
  • Collaborations with certifying and licensing boards to streamline processes for CME providers and reduce burdens for clinicians
  • Safeguarding the integrity of accredited CME, including review of the ACCME Standards for Commercial Support: Standards to Ensure Independence in CME Activities℠ to identify potential revisions that will assure their continued relevance and effectiveness
  • Continuous improvement of the online accreditation system
  • The Program and Activity Reporting System expanded to enable providers to enter more learner data, identify activity content, and choose to display any of their activities in CME Finder, in addition to CME that counts for Continuing Board Certification, the FDA Opioid Analgesics Risk Evaluation and Mitigation Strategy, and the Merit-Based Incentive Payment System
  • A new process and system to handle complaints and inquiries
  • Evolved approaches for quality control to ensure consistent quality in accredited CME

You can find more information about these initiatives in our recent report, Advancing CME to Optimize Care.

We appreciate your commitment to sustaining the accredited CME community. Working together, we can address the challenges we face in the changing healthcare environment and continue to leverage the power of education to optimize the health and well-being of the patients and communities we all serve.

If you have questions, please contact us at info@accme.org.