The Accreditation Council for Continuing Medical Education (ACCME) is continuing its discussions on transparency. These deliberations include the transparency of its Complaints and Inquiries Process. Through this process, the ACCME conducts careful, accurate and thorough reviews in response to allegations that an accredited continuing medical education (CME) provider has violated ACCME accreditation requirements.
Historically, complaint and inquiry findings have been released only to the complainant and the accredited provider. Earlier this year, the ACCME updated its Process for Handling Complaints/Inquiries Regarding ACCME-Accredited Providers to reserve the right to make some information public. The Board of Directors of ACCME will be deliberating further on this important issue. Over the next few weeks, the Board of Directors will consider how information about the results of the ACCME’s Complaints and Inquiries Process might be shared with learners, providers and the public. The ACCME Board of Directors is also reviewing potential actions that could be required of providers should an activity be found in Non-compliance. The Board's deliberation will carefully consider the best interests of the accredited CME system, physician learners and the public. The ACCME will announce the next steps as soon as the Board issues its decisions, in accordance with Board policy.
The upcoming deliberations by its Board of Directors are part of the ACCME’s ongoing commitment to increasing the transparency and accountability of the CME system. This was described in our January 21, 2009 release "ACCME's Approach to Transparency".
In addition to the Complaints and Inquiries Process, the ACCME reviews approximately 200 providers each year for compliance with the ACCME's Standards for Commercial Support: Standards to Ensure Independence in CME ActivitiesSM, and the 2006 Accreditation Criteria through its accreditation review process.
In August 2009, the ACCME began publicly disclosing on its Web site additional information about CME providers, including their accreditation status, and whether or not they accept commercial support. This year, the ACCME also accelerated its enforcement process. CME providers that are found in Non-compliance with the ACCME Standards for Commercial Support must now submit an improvement plan within weeks of the findings and a demonstration of Compliance within six or 12 months. Providers that fail to demonstrate compliance may be put on probation or lose their accreditation status.
The ACCME takes complaints concerning bias and conflicts of interest in CME very seriously. ACCME-accredited providers must design education that promotes improvements in health care -- not the needs of commercial interests. As part of its commitment, ACCME continues to participate in debate within the CME community about strategies for further protecting CME's independence. ACCME welcomes public discussion about these important issues.
The Accreditation Council for Continuing Medical Education is a not-for-profit organization based in Chicago that is responsible for accrediting U.S. institutions that offer continuing medical education through a voluntary, self-regulatory system. The ACCME also has a system for recognizing state medical societies as accreditors for local organizations offering CME.
The ACCME's mission is to identify, develop and enforce standards for quality continuing medical education that improves health care for patients and their communities. There are currently approximately 2,500 accredited CME providers in the United States, whose educational activities draw more than 17 million health care practitioner participants annually.
For more information, visit www.accme.org.