The ACCME Structured Abstract is a tool introduced in 2014, in response to engagement with the CME community, that CME providers may use to verify performance-in-practice during the accreditation process. Use of the ACCME Structured Abstract is optional. The goal with the abstract is to simplify, clarify and be explicit about the information that ACCME is looking for as performance-in-practice evidence during the accreditation process.
The ACCME’s performance-in-practice review allows providers to demonstrate compliance with the ACCME’s expectations and offers providers an opportunity to reflect on their CME practices. Completed forms, faculty and planning correspondence, meeting minutes, and strategic planning documents are examples of materials that might help a provider show how an activity meets the ACCME’s expectations.
CME providers have the option of using a Performance-In-Practice Structured Abstract or Performance-in-Practice Review Labels to verify performance-in-practice. For more information, see the Performance-In-Practice Review Web page.
Completing the Structured Abstract
The ACCME’s Performance-in-Practice Structured Abstract is a Microsoft Word-based fill-out form that enables you to insert information into specific fields in the document. In addition to filling out this information, you will need to include attachments when submitting materials for your performance-in-practice review. The completed abstract, along with the required attachments, fulfills the ACCME’s expectations for activity-specific documentation.
The first section of the structured abstract asks the provider to include information about its organization and about the CME activity for which evidence is being submitted.
- ACCME Provider ID: Enter the unique Provider ID number assigned by the ACCME at the time of your initial accreditation.
- Provider Name: Enter the name of your organization.
- Activity Title: Enter the the title of the activity you are describing in the structured abstract.
- Activity Date: Enter the start date for the activity.
- Activity Type: Select the type of activity from the drop down list on the abstract.
- Providership: Select either Direct or Joint Providership
- Commercial Support Received: Indicate either “Yes” if commercial support was received for this activity or “No” if no commercial support was received for this activity.
In the second section of the structured abstract, you enter information about the planning of the CME activity, specifically related to professional practice gaps and educational needs (Criterion 2), what the activity was designed to change in learners or patient outcomes (Criterion 3), why the educational format is appropriate for the activity (Criterion 5), and which physician competencies the activity addressed (Criterion 6). The information the ACCME is expecting is described on the abstract, including word limits. We have provided links to additional information on the ACCME’s Web site that may be helpful.
- Criterion 2: Briefly state the professional practice gap(s) (or problem-in-practice for your learners) that this activity was based on. Click here for FAQs regarding professional practice gaps.
- Criterion 2: Enter the educational needs that you determined to be the cause of the professional practice gap(s):
- is there a knowledge need (i.e., “Learners need to understand…”), and/or
- a competence need (i.e., “Learners need a new/better strategy…”), and/or
- a performance need (i.e., “Learners need to do something differently…”).
Click here for FAQs regarding educational needs. The ACCME expects that every CME activity address educational need(s) that underlie professional practice gap(s) of your learners. However, multiple activities can address the same gap(s) and need(s). Providers are asked to describe at least one educational need in the abstract—knowledge, competence (i.e., strategy), or performance—but do not need to complete all three fields.
- Criterion 3: What change(s) in learners or patient outcomes was the activity designed to change? Are you intending to change their competence (i.e.,approach/strategies, performance (i.e. what they do in practice), and/or patient outcomes (i.e., the impact on patient care). For FAQs about designing activities for change, click here.
- Criterion 5: Briefly explain why the educational format is appropriate for the activity. Click here for FAQs regarding choosing educational formats.
- Criterion 6: Select the desirable physician attributes (i.e., competencies) the activity addresses. If none of the choices apply, please use the Other Competency(ies) option to provide your response. Providers are required to choose at least one competency listed—or specify an “Other Competency”—for each CME activity. The provider may select multiple competencies from those listed, or supply their own via the “Other” field.
- Please complete one row for each individual in control of content for the activity, as directed.
Click here for FAQs regarding the identification of relevant financial relationships. If the financial relationship of the individual (including their spouse or partner’s financial relationships) does not constitute a relevant financial relationship with an ACCME-defined commercial interest, you do not need to complete the fields for “name of the commercial interest” and “nature of relationship.” If you already have the information required for this table electronically, you may include it along with the material required by Attachment 2 (see the “Attachments” section below) and do not need to fill out the fields in this table.
If the activity was commercially supported, you need to complete the next table on the abstract to describe the provider’s management of commercial support (Criterion 8—ACCME Standards for Commercial Support 3.4-3.6).
- Complete one row for each ACCME-defined commercial interest that provided commercial support for the activity, specifying the name of the commercial interest and the dollar amount of monetary support received. Put an X in the checkbox if the activity received in-kind support.
Click here for FAQs regarding the appropriate use of commercial support. If you already have the information required by this table electronically, you may include it along with the material required by Attachment 8 (see the “Attachments” section below) and do not need to fill out the fields in this table.
The last section of the structured abstract is a list of attachments that you are asked to include with the completed form. Attachments 1-6 must be included for all CME activities. Attachments 7-9 are included only if the activity was commercially supported.
Attachment 1: Attach an agenda, brochure, program book, or announcement that shows the topics/content the activity addressed (ACCME Definition of CME).
Attachment 2: Attach the form, tool (e.g, checklist), or other mechanism used to identify relevant financial relationships of all individuals in control of content. Review the description for “Standards for Commercial Support – Independence” sections above for more information and educational resources concerning Criterion 7 (Standard for Commercial Support 2.1).
Attachment 3: For all individuals in control of content, show how your mechanism(s) to resolve conflicts of interest were implemented prior to the start of the activity.
Attachment 4: For each individual in control of the content of the activity, show the disclosure information that was provided to learners about the relevant financial relationships (or absence of relevant financial relationships).
Attachment 5: Attach the data or information describing the changes in your learners’ competence (i.e., strategies), performance, or patient outcomes that were generated from the activity. Click here for FAQs regarding measuring change in activities (Criterion 11). Additionally, providers might find it helpful to review Provider Examples of Compliance and Noncompliance with Criterion 11.
Attachment 6: Attach an example of the accreditation statement for this activity, as it was provided to learners. Click here for FAQs regarding the accreditation statement.
Attachment 7: If the activity was commercially supported, attach an Income and Expense statement that details that receipt and expenditure of all commercial support. Click here for FAQs regarding the proper management of commercial support (Criterion 8—Standard for Commercial Support 3.13).
Attachment 8: If the activity was commercially supported, attach each executed commercial support agreement for the activity.
Attachment 9: Attach commercial support disclosure information as it was provided to the learners of the activity. Click here for FAQs regarding the disclosure of commercial support to learners (Criterion 7—Standards for Commercial Support 6.3-6.5).
For providers that choose to use the structured abstract, the ACCME asks that both the abstract fill-form and all appropriate attachments be completed and submitted in a bookmarked, electronic Adobe Acrobat PDF file. For more information regarding format and technical requirements for submission of structured abstracts, see the Guide to Process for ACCME Reaccreditation. (Organizations engaged in Initial Accreditation can refer to the Guide to the Process for Initial ACCME Accreditation.)
Sample structured abstracts are included below. Please note that some of the samples do not include the required attachments. These sample documents are intended to illustrate different approaches that accredited providers may take, but should not be seen as the only approach(es) for submitting structured abstract information. Please note: The sample documents include structured abstract submissions (and attachments) for several types of CME activities—and several types of organizations. One should not come to the conclusion that a particular type of CME activity, or organization type, would require a unique approach to the structured abstract and attachments.
If you have questions about what completing the structured abstract and attachments, please contact ACCME’s Accreditation Department at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Example 1: Course (Only abstract provided. Attachments not provided.)
Example 2: Regularly Scheduled Series (Only abstract provided. Attachments not provided.)
Example 3: Learning from Teaching (Abstract and attachments provided.)
Example 4: Course (Abstract and attachments provided.)
Example 5: Annual Meeting (Only abstract provided. Attachments not provided.)