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Commentary: Let the ACCME Lovefest Begin

Medical Meetings Editor Sue Pelletier

“This is one of the most exciting things I’ve seen from ACCME in a long time, so thank you.”

“You’ve restored my faith that things can be changed in large organizations across the nation, and I greatly appreciate it and look forward to seeing all the changes that are upcoming.”

These are just two of the many comments made during the Q&A portion of a webinar hosted by the Accreditation Council for Continuing Medical Education in late May. The webinar addressed changes the ACCME recently proposed that are designed to streamline its accreditation process. From the responses from callers on the webinar, Twitter chatter, and the CME LinkedIn group, it appears that the ACCME has, in fact, hit a sweet spot with its proposals, which cover general accreditation, accreditation with commendation, the Standards for Commercial Support, and other policies. (See this briefing on the proposed changes.)

The spot is so sweet, in fact, that @theCMEguy, otherwise known as CME consultant and new Medical Meetings columnist Derek Warnick, tweeted, “Wow, an ACCME lovefest has broken out.” To which I had to reply, “Never thought I’d hear those words!”

The ACCME has come a long way since I first started covering continuing medical education a decade or so ago. Back then, the accreditor was a fearsome thing, and every word uttered by Murray Kopelow, MD, its president and chief executive, would be endlessly parsed to try to determine what exactly it meant for fear of somehow running afoul of its rules around accreditation and commercial support.

A few years ago, the ACCME started a process to become more transparent, and in so doing it’s become, if not a friend to your average CME provider, at least not a foe. The organization has tirelessly been pumping out webinars, instructional videos, FAQs, and Q&As. It’s been holding meetings and workshops, and fielding an untold number of phone calls. It’s been reaching out as well. As Kopelow said in the webinar, they talked with 1,145 CME stakeholders, from ACCME surveyors and recognized accreditors to CME providers working in the trenches, to find out which of its processes and policies are most in need of change. And, even more importantly, the ACCME is acting on the feedback.

No wonder people liked what they were hearing—it was their ideas being put into action. Out with the dreaded label system of documentation, and in with an ACCME-provided template. Out with a rigid list of criteria for accreditation with commendation, and in with a menu of criteria that providers can choose from as best fits their individual organization. Out with criteria that doesn’t take today’s digital reality into account, and in with new ways to streamline the accreditation process. It all still has to go through a call-for-comments period and be approved by the ACCME members and board, but in a year or so, accreditation may become a whole lot simpler. Thanks for listening, ACCME.

P.S. Here's another opinion, from Medical Meetings' newest columnist, CME consultant Derek Warnick: Belize, Whoppers, and the CME Community's Response to the ACCME.

What do you think?

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