Last month, the 21st Annual Conference of the National Task Force on CME Provider/Industry Collaboration was held in Baltimore. This year’s theme was “Moving forward in an age of uncertainty; creating innovative, practical educational solutions.” We are running a series of articles on some of the presentations.
As the Chief Executive of ACCME, Dr. Kopelow focused his presentation in the context of what CME’s role will be in health care reform. He specifically highlighted that CME will play a significant role in improving health care quality. Specifically, Dr. Kopelow acknowledge how based on an ACCME change in emphasis in 2006, accredited CME is linked to practice improvement and focused on quality gaps. He explained that CME programs act as a bridge to quality healthcare because they match content to the learner’s scope, they use practice-based needs, and they measure change in competence or performance or patient outcomes as part of the process.
CME programs that are focused on these goals help determine what the current practice levels are in specific disease and treatment areas, and then identify gaps. CME providers then determine through research what the optimal practice level can be. After establishing what the desired outcomes are, CME providers seek to create the content and programs to achieve the optimal level of practice for health care practitioners.
Maintaining these goals and using these methods are important for CME providers and stakeholders to ensure quality and safety, since CME meets critical and current needs of physicians to maintain licensure, certification and hospital credentialing. Dr. Kopelow acknowledged that CME could be a strategic asset to improve care by leveraging the accreditation requirements. This was an important point because Dr. Kopelow recognized that there are no shortages in treatment gaps, as identified by numerous media sources, clinical research, local or regional health care data, national benchmarks and guidelines, and institutional or organizational data.
Dr. Kopelow also pointed out an important clarification about CME. He noted that in June 2010, FDA published a final report on prescriber education. FDA’s report from the working group recommended that the REMS prescriber training be designed to exceed the goal of traditional CME methods (knowledge acquisition) and instead aim to demonstrate optimized practitioner performance and improved patient outcomes. What was disturbing for Dr. Kopelow is the fact that in 2004 the ACCME Task Force on Competency and the Continuum acknowledged the exact same aims that the FDA outlined. Specifically, ACCME stated that “to meet the needs of the 21st century physician, CME will provide support for the physician’s professional development that is based on continuous improvement in the knowledge, strategies and performance-in-practice necessary to provide optimal patient care.
In other words, Dr. Kopelow was recognizing that ACCME has had the same educational goals in mind as the FDA for over six years now.