Task Force Meeting: ACCME update

ACCME's Murray Kopelow, MD, took to the podium toward the end of the National Task Force on CME Provider/Industry Collaboration conference to provide an update on the implementation of the Standards for Commercial Support, and to talk a little about the new updated criteria for accreditation. Unfortunately, he only had an hour, so the talk stayed a bit on the general side.

He started off by saying that CME is about helping doctors give the best care all the time, all over the world. "We are a strategic asset to physicians on their journey." He walked through all the toolkits, phone support, and workshops the ACCME has provided to help CME providers come to grips with the new Standards. "It's been two years since we introduced the new Standards for Commercial Support, and nothing bad has happened at reaccreditation. We've seen no surprising patterns, nothing we haven't seen before." He also stressed that the Standards are key to ensuring the validity of CME, and that providers now have the tools and mechanisms to resolve conflicts of interest. "As CME becomes safer for pharma, it will continue to place its money in CME," he added. Perhaps as a hint on how to take the new criteria for accreditation, he said, "Remember the lessons of the past as we move forward."

He then launched into the new criteria, explaining as the background behind the decision how the maintenance of certification and the maintenance of licensure have gone toward the verification of good practice through a number of means. "CME has always been one of the mechanisms, but it can only stay so as long as it demonstrably improves patient care," Kopelow said. "CME is going to be effective, and demonstrably effective. To that purpose, we released the new criteria...

"We expect there will be a curve. We expect complete compliance to be a multiyear process," he said. Some elements will be easier to do than others, he acknowledged, and some, such as the criteria related to commercial support, you're already doing under the new Standards. "By 2012, we expect you will have the system in place to make the change."

To get the maximum effect for CME, he said, "we have to get out of our skins a little and get into the real-world processes. No date has been set for full compliance. We are willing to have you set the pace because how fast you move depends on the resources you have." It's all about closing the gap in quality, and the gap in the systems, he said. "Mind the gap."

One person from the pharma side, when asked by Kopelow for his response to the new criteria, said, "I'm personally optimistic that we'll get there. I'm optimistic that we mean it and we'll do it."

Another audience member asked how likely it is that any providers would be able to reach Level 3 accreditation when the first round under the new criteria begins in November 2008. Kopelow said, "We think some already meet these requirements. There are CME providers who already are linked into their larger environment. I think the only barrier to achieving Level 3 is the strategic decision to do it."

When asked what the gap is between where providers currently are and where they need to be, Kopelow said one main one to focus on was outcomes measurement, for which there already is a body of knowledge. The next gap, which he called "almost a political, organizational one," is to get a seat at the quality improvement table. "If you're not invited to a meeting, hold a meeting of your own."

"My concern is related to smaller providers," said another audience member. "Are there ways to make it easier for them to get their foot in the door?" Kopelow answered that one of the reasons ACCME published the new criteria is to stay at the table with maintence of certification and licensure, and with Health Policy and Quality.

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