Today we are going to talk about the question: What is accredited CME? Lately there has been discussion among trade groups, The American Medical Association, congressional staffers and even bloggers using the term CM, accredited CME and Certified CME. Ironically these terms were created to bring clarity to CME but there seems to be some confusion out there. Let’s look at some history and define three key terms in our field.
The first and most generic term is medical education. It’s really a catch all term that means anything depending on who the stakeholder is that’s talking about it. It’s most confusing because depending on whom you are talking with it means something different. To industry sales and marketing folks, meetings with physicians, speaker bureaus, advisory boards and general training could all be lumped under that term of medical education. Even the AMA in the past mistakenly lumped those kinds of promotional meetings in with other items such as sales rep visits, free lunches and even CME itself. The AMA corrected themselves last year by stating in a formal opinion that CME was not related to any of those promotional education meetings.
Believe it or not, the Federal Government has actually done the best job of making the distinction between CME and all the other types of education or promotional meetings that are out there. In 1997 the FDA, and in 2003 the Department of Health and Human Services, came out with compliance guidance documents that said there are things that are promotional in nature (marketing, sales and those types of meetings) that might have some educational value, but those are very different and should be completely separate than anything that is CME or non-promotional in nature.
The term Certified CME was created in 2008 by trade groups involved in the CME field to distinguish education that did three things. First, that it complied with the ACCME standards for independence and industry grant support. Second, that it provided evidence based, balanced, non-promotional learning activities, and thirdly that it was developed by organizations that are accredited by the ACCME to issue American Medical Association Credit to physicians.
Accredited CME was adopted by the ACCME itself around 2011 to continue to distinguish CME from any other type of education, especially promotional information that people are calling medical education generically. Accredited CME is the same as Certified CME; it’s education that is independent from promotion or commercial influence- it has to comply with all AMA and ACCME requirements, including content validation, best available evidence and physician improvement.
Lastly, whether it’s developed with funding from a health system, an academic center budget, registration fees from the participants, or a CME grant that is given from industry, it has to be managed independently by an ACCME accredited organization. Confusion still exists, but CME professionals are making progress in showing that there is a very big difference between accredited or certified CME and any other type of information or education that’s out there.
As always, if you have any questions about CME these definitions, or any other issues about CME, feel free to contact us here