Accreditation Council for CME Opens Call for Public Comment for New Commendation Criteria

Proposed new criteria aim to advance CME’s role in the changing health environment and leverage the power of education to improve healthcare

The Accreditation Council for Continuing Medical Education (ACCME®) is pleased to issue a call for public comment about its proposal for a menu of new criteria for Accreditation with Commendation, in accordance with its Rule-Making Policy. Comments will be accepted through February 16, 2016, at 5:00 pm Central.

The goal of the proposed new criteria is to encourage and reward accredited continuing medical education (CME) providers for implementing best practices in pedagogy, engagement, evaluation, and change management, and to focus on generating meaningful outcomes. The proposal reflects the recommendations the ACCME has gathered from a diverse range of stakeholders about how to advance CME’s role in the changing health environment and leverage the power of education to improve healthcare.

“The proposed commendation criteria are designed to serve as a guidepost for the future of CME. We want to recognize the terrific achievements of organizations that advance interprofessional collaborative practice, address public health priorities, create behavioral change, show leadership, leverage educational technology, and demonstrate the impact of education on healthcare professionals and patients. By meeting the expectations of the current criteria, CME providers have proven their capacity to become strategic partners in healthcare safety and quality initiatives. The CME community asked us to reward them for even higher levels of achievement—and this proposal is a response to those aspirations. I look forward to your comments, to our ongoing engagement, and to continuing to work together with you as we advance CME’s role in the changing health environment and improve care for the patients we serve,” said Graham McMahon, MD, MMSc, President and CEO, Accreditation Council for Continuing Medical Education (ACCME®).

A Menu of Proposed Criteria

There are 16 proposed criteria, grouped into five categories. Each criterion is accompanied by supporting information, including the rationale for its inclusion, the critical elements required to demonstrate compliance, and the standard for measuring compliance. The accompanying information is designed to assist CME providers in understanding and meeting the ACCME’s expectations.

The commendation criteria are structured as a menu that will give accredited CME providers the opportunity to choose the ones that are appropriate for their organization. The purpose of the menu structure is to promote best practices, reflect the diversity of the CME community, create flexibility, and offer a pathway for all CME provider types to achieve Accreditation with Commendation.

To be eligible to achieve Accreditation with Commendation, an accredited CME provider will need to demonstrate compliance with the existing core Accreditation Criteria 1–13, demonstrate compliance with at least one commendation criterion from each of the five categories, and demonstrate compliance with at least eight of the commendation criteria.

Building on Success and Engagement

Implemented in 2008, the current criteria for Accreditation with Commendation were designed to position the CME community as a strategic asset to the quality improvement and safety imperatives of the US healthcare system. Over the years, providers demonstrated an increasing ability to meet the expectations of the criteria. Currently, about 50% of providers successfully achieve commendation status, demonstrating—among other attributes—that they integrate CME into the process for improving professional practice and act as strategic partners in quality initiatives through collaborative alliances.

In response to this growing success, and as part of its strategic planning, the ACCME has engaged in ongoing dialogue with the CME and stakeholder communities to identify a greater range of commendable practices. This proposal incorporates feedback to a draft proposal that was circulated in 2014, which received widespread support from the CME community, with about 75% of CME provider survey respondents, representing a range of organizational types and sizes, reporting that the proposed criteria would make Accreditation with Commendation feasible for them.


Commendation Criteria Proposal: A PDF including a message from the CEO, explanatory information, and the proposed new criteria.

Call for Comment Survey

Proposal for New Criteria for Accreditation with Commendation: Webpage with information, links to relevant materials, and updates.

Important Points and Timeline

Call for Comment: The ACCME will accept comments through February 16, 2016. , at 5:00 pm Central.

Board of Directors Review: The ACCME Board of Directors will review the comments at its March 2016 meeting and determine whether to make modifications to the criteria.

Current Criteria Remain in Place: The current commendation Criteria 16–22 remain in place and accredited CME providers should continue to comply with them, in addition to complying with the existing core Accreditation Criteria 1–13, to achieve Accreditation with Commendation.

Transition Plan: Once the Board of Directors has finalized the criteria, the ACCME will release a transition plan for the CME community. The new criteria will be implemented for ACCME-accredited and state-accredited providers. (There is no change to requirements for Joint Accreditation for Interprofessional Continuing Education™.) There will be an extended transition phase during which accredited providers will have the option of demonstrating compliance with the current or new commendation criteria. The transition phase will serve two purposes: it will ensure that CME providers that have been working to achieve or sustain commendation under the current criteria will continue to have that opportunity, and it will give providers time to prepare to meet the expectations of the new criteria. As always, compliance with the commendation criteria will be optional for CME providers and is not required to achieve Accreditation.

Achieving Accreditation with Commendation: Accredited providers will need to continue to demonstrate compliance with the existing core Accreditation Criteria
1–13 to be eligible to achieve Accreditation with Commendation, in addition to meeting the expectations of the current or new commendation criteria.

Education and Resources: The ACCME will provide ongoing education and training for Recognized Accreditors, accredited CME providers, volunteers, and other stakeholders to support the CME community’s successful adoption of the new criteria.

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The Accreditation Council for Continuing Medical Education (ACCME®) is a nonprofit organization based in Chicago that is responsible for accrediting institutions that offer continuing medical education (CME) through a voluntary, self-regulatory system. The ACCME also has a system for recognizing state medical societies as accreditors for local organizations offering CME.

The ACCME's mission is to identify, develop, and promote standards for quality CME that improves healthcare for patients and their communities. There are approximately 1,900 accredited CME providers within the ACCME System that offer more than 147,000 activities each year, comprising more than one million hours of instruction and including more than 25 million interactions with physicians and other healthcare professionals.

The ACCME's member organizations—which represent the profession of medicine and include physician licensing and credentialing bodies—are the American Board of Medical Specialties, the American Hospital Association, the American Medical Association, the Association of American Medical Colleges, the Association for Hospital Medical Education, the Council of Medical Specialty Societies, and the Federation of State Medical Boards of the US, Inc.

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