AMA and ACCME Announce Collaboration to Support Alignment

September 1, 2016
Posted by: 
Patty Harrison

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.

The ACCME and the AMA have received feedback from the CME community in a variety of ways, including listening sessions in late 2015 and in January 2016, encouraging the two organizations to better align their respective accreditation and credit systems. In order to work toward that goal, and establish a process to maintain a better alignment moving forward, a Bridge Committee has been formed. The committee, made up of staff and volunteers from both organizations, serves in an advisory capacity on issues related to alignment and evolution of the two complementary systems of credit and accreditation.

The ACCME and the AMA thank the volunteers who are members of the Bridge Committee: Harry Gallis, MD (AMA), Kim Edward LeBlanc, MD, PhD (ACCME), John Phillip Williams, MD (AMA), and Suzanne Ziemnik, MEd (ACCME). They are supported by staff: Alejandro Aparicio, MD (AMA), Richard Hawkins, MD (AMA), Kate Regnier, MA, MBA (ACCME), and Steve Singer, PhD (ACCME).

The Bridge Committee issued a report with a series of recommendations and conclusions, which have been approved by the ACCME and AMA governance bodies. Here are the first three recommendations that will be addressed:

1. Shared Glossary of Terms and Definitions

ACCME and AMA (staff) should develop a shared glossary of terms and definitions since they both regulate the shared system of accreditation and credit. The work of the two organizations is mutually dependent. The language supporting that work should be shared to avoid confusion by educational providers and learners alike. The committee recommended also including definitions from the AMA Physician's Recognition Award (AMA PRA) standards, similar to the practice of the ACCME to include definitions of terms from the accreditation standards in its glossary. The committee can serve to resolve any differences of opinion that evolve.

2. Facilitating Innovation through Agreement on Core Principles

The committee agreed that the system should facilitate innovation and encourage experimentation, guided by an evidence-based approach and within the construct of core principles, while striving for a simultaneous system-wide evolution that includes, for example, MOC. The committee asked staff to compile a list of stakeholder expectations of the system or environmental scan, including the requirements of state licensing boards that identify specific types of CME mandated for licensure, that would catalog expectations of the CME system by American Board of Medical Specialties (ABMS), Federation of State Medical Boards (FSMB), The Joint Commission, hospitals, specialty societies, Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS), American Academy of Family Physicians (AAFP), American Osteopathic Association (AOA), and others, with attention to different approaches to the issues of performance improvement, continuous quality improvement, patient safety, etc. While alignment of the credit systems may also be desirable, the alignment between AMA and ACCME should be undertaken first.

3. Unified Approach/Principle-based Requirements

ACCME and AMA should adopt a single set of principles. The committee discussed the proposal for having all CME activities adhere to a set of principle-based core requirements that would be guided by adult learning principles and demonstrated CME effectiveness. The requirements would be applicable to all activities regardless of format. It is acknowledged that a small number of additional requirements could apply depending on the modality of learning, and subject to further discussion by the committee.

The Bridge Committee also encouraged the two organizations to align their approaches to education and communication, and ongoing monitoring.  Both the AMA and the ACCME will update the CME community regularly on the progress being made toward alignment. We thank you for your feedback and look forward to our ongoing engagement.