At the Hospitals and Health Systems Provider Section Meeting, held Wednesday at the Alliance for CME conference in Phoenix, Accreditation Council for CME chief executive Murray Kopelow, MD, and a panel of CME providers fielded questions about the new ACCME accreditation criteria that were announced last fall.

One person in the audience asked what resources were being made available to state accreditors, since most of the hospitals represented in the room were state-accredited. Kopelow said, "We have an expectation that a provider that passes in one state should pass in all states. You shouldn't have to meet different standards to be accredited in different places." He added that the expectations for state accreditation often are lower than those set for nationally accredited providers--for example, some state accreditors offer just two or three years of accreditation per cycle, rather than the four years offered by ACCME, and some states don't offer accreditation with commendation. "That's not fair," he said. "We're going to take a hand in providing clarity, and being consistent across the board nationally is part of our plan."

Another person wanted to know if anyone on the panel or in the audience had any examples of how to become integrated into the greater healthcare system, as the new criteria for accreditation require for accreditation with commendation.

While no one said it was an easy transition, there were some success stories. "Who you get on your CME committee is critical," said one responder. Kopelow added, "If [the quality improvement office] doesn't invite you to their meeting, hold a meeting of your own about how to integrate CME into quality improvement and quality assurance." One person said, "We invited a QI person to be on the committee. He hasn't completely bought into it yet, but we have time." Another person said that a key thing to do to get physicians involved is to help them realize that getting involved in CME is to their benefit, particularly in terms of pay for performance requirements and licensure. Another respondent said, "I did a road show about how they can benefit from all this, and we got more physicians interested in getting involved. I also go to all the physician orientation for new doctors, and we've had some say the first committee they want to be on is CME. It helps to say, hey, you can get credit for that."

"Motivation is a big part of this," said Kopelow. "The value of CME is going to go up exponentially as they start to work with maintenance of competence, licensure, and performance improvement. You have to be ready, because the CME office is the first place they'll go to for more information."

To address concerns expressed about outcomes measurement, which is a requirement under the new criteria, Kopelow said, "There's a difference between evaluation and research. We're not asking you to do research with a high level of statistical validity. The academics will have to follow up on our self-report evaluations to check their validity, but that's not what we're asking you to do."