Addressing Practice Gaps

Published Date

A discussion of ACCME's requirements for an evidence-based approach for addressing practice gaps during the educational planning process, with Steve Singer, PhD, ACCME Vice President of Education & Outreach. This video was produced to be used in conjunction with participation in the Accreditation Workshop.


ACCME’s requirements offer an evidence-based approach for planning educational activities. The process begins with addressing a question in practice for your learners, “What’s the practice-based problem we want to address?” To best serve your learners, we want you to anchor your educational activities to addressing these practice gaps—where there is a difference between current practice and best practice.

Let’s explore this further. By “practice-based,” we mean those professional activities that your learners—physicians and other health professionals—are engaged in each day. This may include the care of patients, but also might be other professional roles, like being a researcher, a teacher, an administrator, a team-leader… you name it. CME can and should be able to support the journey from current practice to best practice for any and all of these facets of your learners’ professional lives.

You might be wondering, “How do I find gaps? Where do I look?” There are so many ways to approach determining the practice gaps of your learners. You can help your learners identify their own gaps by using approaches such as surveys, case-based questions, or assessment. You can look to published standards and research insights from a national perspective about practice gaps and ask, “Do my learners share these gaps?”

The process of identifying practice gaps is really up to you. It can be formal—using performance data, care outcomes—or informal, such as a member of the team saying, “I don’t think we’re doing as well as we could be doing to address safe prescribing.” Gaps can be personal; a physician researcher realizing, “this is a new laboratory technique and I don’t know how to do it.”  All of these approaches are valid; and, of course, you can collaborate with others to identify practice gaps; for instance, by working with quality improvement to determine where your system performs well, and where improvement is needed.

Each CME activity can address a different practice gap or a number of CME activities can address a single practice gap. Identifying practice gaps and connecting them with your CME activities is your opportunity to ensure value for your learners.