Accreditation Council for CME Releases Specifications for Online Program & Activity Reporting System

ACCME seeks feedback, helps providers prepare for data-collection portal
Chicago, IL
October 27, 2009

 

Dated material.  For current PARS information, please visit the Program and Activity Reporting System (PARS) page.

The Accreditation Council for CME (ACCME) has released the specifications for the Program & Activity Reporting System (PARS), a web-based portal for the collection and analysis of up-to-date, comprehensive data from ACCME-accredited continuing medical education (CME) providers. This information will help CME providers prepare to use the database, in particular those that plan to provide their activity data to ACCME in bulk upload. 

In addition, the ACCME has compiled a set of Frequently Asked Questions that have been submitted by providers.

PARS is currently being pilot tested by a group of accredited providers who are using the Web page interface to upload activities one at a time.  The ACCME is also looking for organizations that will be exporting their data using one of the file formats explained in the specifications section below and would be interested in participating in the pilot phase. If your organization would like to take part in the pilot of the bulk upload, please contact database@accme.org.

Following the pilot test, there will be an exhibition phase, during which all ACCME accredited providers will have the opportunity to try out the system. PARS will go live during the first quarter of 2010. For background information, please see Accreditation Council for CME Implements Testing Phase of Online Program & Activity Reporting System.  

Program & Activity Reporting System FAQ

 ·         When will PARS be available to ACCME-accredited providers?
PARS is currently in the testing phase. The ACCME will make the system available in the first quarter of 2010.

·         Will providers that are accredited by an ACCME Recognized State Medical Society be required to use PARS?
PARS will only be mandatory for ACCME-accredited providers during this roll-out, not providers accredited by an ACCME Recognized State Medical Society. Moving forward, the ACCME and the Recognized State Medical Societies will review the design and benefits of PARS to determine its utility for the state accreditation system.

·         What data will be required from providers for the ACCME Annual Report Data 2009?
Since PARS will only 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 same reporting fields we have in the past. We will not use PARS to produce the ACCME Annual Report Data 2009.

·         Will PARS be accessible to physician learners or the public?
PARS will not be accessible to physician learners or the public. Accredited providers will have secure logins and their data will only be shared in accordance with ACCME's Information and Confidentiality Policies. The ACCME has not yet determined whether we will use any of the new data 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 PARS record the amount of commercial support funds and in-kind commercial support separately?
Yes, the amount of commercial support grants will be recorded separately from in-kind commercial support. Providers will be asked to record the nature of the in-kind commercial support, rather than estimating a dollar value for in-kind commercial support.

·         Will accredited providers be able to generate reports based on information that they input into the system about their CME activities?
The ACCME Program and Activity Reporting System is designed primarily as a vehicle for providers to report information to the ACCME. At this point, there are no plans to enable providers to generate their own custom reports from the data in the system. However, if there would be value added to accredited providers to have access to the data, the ACCME would be willing to explore such options and add them to the system's functions at a later date. 

Program & Activity Reporting System Specifications

The ACCME’s purpose in releasing this information is to collect feedback from the CME community and to offer provider organizations, their IT departments and supporting software developers the specifications they need to automate file exports from their internal activity tracking systems. Please note that these materials are the current working versions, and may be revised prior to the public launch of the system, based on the feedback the ACCME receives. Providers will not be required to use the upload features; you can also use the PARS Web page interface to input and edit your activity information one activity at a time.  

The concept involved is straightforward. If your organization uses software to plan and track CME activities, it should be possible to export data from that database to a file. A file that is formatted according to the ACCME specifications can be uploaded to PARS, and the data in it will either create new activity records or add to existing ones in the online system.

The specifications documents describe the required structure of the upload files including which fields are needed, what they must be named, and what content is expected in each. Preparing to export data from your tracking system using one of the ACCME file formats will require technical knowledge of both the details of your tracking system and the general methods of creating data files in order to establish a successful data “mapping” from your system that meets the upload file specifications.

If your organization is not using a software package to manage its CME offerings, then activity information will need to be entered manually using the PARS Web page interface.

Tab-delimited file format: This file format is typically available as an option when saving a Microsoft Excel spreadsheet. If the activity tracking system your organization uses can be configured to export data to Excel, this option may be acceptable for you. The following materials are available for your reference;

  • Tab-delimited file format specifications document (PDF).  This document contains a description of the fields required in a tab-delimited upload file. 
  •  Tab-delimited file format Zip file. This file contains the specifications document above and a sample Excel file.

XML file format: This file format is based on the MedBiquitous Consortium’s Medical Education Metrics standard (MEMS). Utilization of this file format will require technical experience with XML file templates.

  •  XML file format specifications (PDF)
  • XML format Zip file. This file contains the file format specifications document, XSD files and an example XML file.

The ACCME welcomes your questions and feedback about these file format specifications or other aspects of PARS. We  wiill continue to provide information, support and resources to help providers use the new system. Send your questions to database@accme.org.

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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.

 

Contact Info: 
thosansky@accme.org