The Accreditation Council for Continuing Medical Education (ACCME) is continuing the testing phase of its Program & Activity Reporting System (PARS). First announced by the ACCME in June 2008, PARS is a web-based portal, designed to streamline and support the collection of program and activity data from continuing medical education (CME) providers.
During the first pilot-testing phase, completed in November, a group of accredited providers tested the web-based interface, entering individual activity data directly into PARS. During the second phase, currently underway, accredited providers are testing the bulk upload process, which enables them to upload multiple activities using one of several templates.
The ACCME has received detailed, constructive feedback and questions from the providers who volunteered to test the system, the Board of Directors and other stakeholders. Based on the input, the ACCME is making adjustments and improvements to PARS, to ensure that it will be an efficient and valuable resource for the accredited CME system. Any fields containing new data points will be optional fields.
The next step will be an education and exhibition phase, currently planned for first quarter of 2010, if pilot testing is completed by then, as expected. This phase will afford all accredited providers the opportunity to try out the system. PARS would be made available to providers after the exhibition stage; we will announce a timetable as soon as possible. Once the system is available, providers will be able to determine when and with how much frequency to enter their activity data. The only currently-planned time constraint is that providers must enter all their 2010 activity data by March 31, 2011, to allow for the calculation of the ACCME Annual Report Data 2010.
The ACCME will continue to provide updates on the progress of PARS and will offer education, support and resources to assist providers during the exhibition phase and after the system is deployed. For the most up-to-date information about PARS, please refer to the latest ACCME communications, available in the What's New section of our Web site, as the timeline and details are evolving, in response to feedback. If you have any questions, please e-mail email@example.com.
Program & Activity Reporting System FAQ
Below are new questions and answers, listed first, as well as a previously-released FAQ.
- What is the purpose of PARS?
The primary purpose of PARS is to employ an updated, web-based, streamlined and user-friendly system for the collection of activity and program data from accredited providers. PARS, an online portal, will replace the PC-based spreadsheets the ACCME now uses to collect activity data from providers. In addition, providers will no longer need to submit separate, aggregated data for the annual reports. The ACCME will use the information collected in PARS for the reaccreditation process and to aggregate data for the annual reports.
Another potential, future goal is to use PARS as a source of activity information from which to build a real time monitoring, or audit, process in order to demonstrate the ACCME's accountability to stakeholders, the government and public. When discussing this goal in previous communications, we stated that a monitoring system might require providers to input activity data prospectively. We are not planning to implement that requirement during the initial deployment. If and when we decide to explore the development of a monitoring process, we will seek input from accredited providers and other stakeholders before moving forward.
- What data will providers be required to enter into PARS?
Providers will be expected to enter the same information that is currently required for reaccreditation. The ACCME is also testing additional data fields for the following: content areas, subcategories for courses to indicate the form of interaction planned for the activity, names of joint sponsors and commercial supporters, and the nature of in-kind support. We are currently evaluating these additional data fields, taking into account feedback from the accredited providers who tested the system, the Board of Directors and other stakeholders. Any fields containing new data points will be optional fields.
The purpose of collecting additional information would be to enable the ACCME and providers to gain a more detailed and comprehensive picture of the national CME enterprise. This information could assist the ACCME and providers in demonstrating the value and scope of CME. In addition, the accredited CME system could answer long-standing questions that have been asked by stakeholders, the government and public, about CME curricula, commercial support and other areas.
(Please note: providers will not be asked to submit participants' names.)
- What data will be required from providers for the ACCME Annual Report Data 2009?
We will not use PARS to produce the ACCME Annual Report Data 2009. Since PARS will only be able aggregate data once a full year's worth of information has been entered, the ACCME will collect 2009 data in the same way we have previously, in aggregate form, using the current list of reporting fields.
- Will PARS data be made public?
PARS will not be accessible to the public. Accredited providers will have secure logins and their information will only be shared in accordance with ACCME's information and confidentiality policies. The ACCME has not yet determined whether we will use information collected in PARS to add to our publicly-released data. We will inform providers well in advance if we plan to release additional data to the public.
- Will accredited providers be able to generate reports based on information that they input into PARS about their CME activities?
Currently, PARS is designed primarily as a vehicle for providers to report information to the ACCME. However, we are aware that providers might benefit from being able to download the data they've entered into PARS. We will continue to monitor the feedback we receive from providers, and will look into the development of reporting features as a service to providers.
- Will state accredited providers be required to feed information into PARS?
No, PARS is being rolled out for ACCME accredited providers. However, the ACCME and Recognized State Medical Societies are discussing the advantages of PARS to the state medical society system. While it's not a requirement, state medical societies may find it beneficial to implement PARS.
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.
The ACCME's member organizations include the American Board of Medical Specialties, the American Hospital Association, the American Medical Association, the Association for Hospital Medical Education, the Association of American Medical Colleges, the Council of Medical Specialty Societies and the Federation of State Medical Boards of the U.S. Inc.
For more information, visit www.accme.org.