CMS Includes Accredited CME as Improvement Activities in Quality Payment Program Proposal

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) has included accredited CME as an improvement activity in the proposed changes for the Quality Payment Program. The proposed rule would make changes in 2018, the second year of the Quality Payment Program, as required by the Medicare Access and Chip Reauthorization Act of 2015 (MACRA).

In the proposed rule, CMS describes the following criteria for completion of an accredited performance improvement continuing medical education program that addresses performance or quality improvement:

  • The activity must address a quality or safety gap that is supported by a needs assessment or problem analysis, or must support the completion of such a needs assessment as part of the activity;
  • The activity must have specific, measurable aim(s) for improvement;
  • The activity must include interventions intended to result in improvement;
  • The activity must include data collection and analysis of performance data to assess the impact of the interventions; and
  • The accredited program must define meaningful clinician participation in their activity, describe the mechanism for identifying clinicians who meet the requirements, and provide participant completion information.

CMS is accepting comments on the proposal until August 21, 2017. Download the Federal Register notice here. (You can find the section on CME in Table F: Proposed New Improvement Activities for the Quality Payment Program Year 2 and Future Years, page 1042.)

“The proposed rule will provide more flexibility and freedom for educators to engage with clinicians in a learner-centered quality improvement process,” said Graham McMahon, MD, MMSc, President and CEO, ACCME. “We are pleased that the CMS proposal reflects the value of accredited CME and look forward to working together to address the quality and safety needs of communities and the patients we all serve.”

The proposed inclusion of accredited CME reflects recommendations from the CME community. CME stakeholders, including the ACCME, had suggested that CMS leverage the existing CME framework to simplify clinicians’ ability to meet the Quality Payment Program requirements and facilitate their participation.

“This network of CME professionals understands healthcare needs on the local community, regional, and national levels, has expertise addressing public/population health challenges, and has demonstrated success in overcoming implementation challenges. This network has the capacity and expertise to engage clinicians in meaningful work to improve performance, practice, and quality improvement,” Dr. McMahon stated in a letter to CMS.

As the next steps, the ACCME anticipates collaborating with the CME community and CMS to identify a simple, nimble mechanism for reporting clinician engagement that will relieve the burden on clinicians.