What factors characterize an exemplary CME program? How can your organization achieve exemplary compliance? What’s the most effective way to gauge the impact of your CME activities? CME providers can explore answers to the field’s most critical questions at a national conference hosted by Baylor College of Medicine on Sept. 14 and 15 at the Warwick Hotel in Houston.

“Pursuing Excellence: Raising the Bar for Continuing Medical Education” will feature exemplary CME providers who will share innovative approaches and discuss CME issues of mutual concern, such as successful strategies to measure program outcomes based on the ACCME’s new self-study model. In addition to learning about exemplary practices, attendees will have the opportunity to network with leading CME providers and supporters, receive advice and guidance on advancing their CME programs, and expand their understanding of key CME issues such as commercial support, competition, financial challenges and research.

“The New System for Accreditation represents a significant change for CME providers – one that recognizes and rewards innovation and continuing improvement under the self-study process,” said Michael Fordis MD, Associate Dean for Continuing Medical Education at Baylor. “As one of the first providers to be reviewed under the new system, we would have welcomed the opportunity to study examples of innovation; however, the process was so new that even the ACCME could not yet provide examples. That has changed, and the exemplary providers involved in ‘Pursuing Excellence’ can provide just such an opportunity for others launching their own self-studies.”

Fordis and other conference faculty will consider the conference a success once they determine whether attendees were able to implement or adopt exemplary practices relevant to their own CME programs. In turn, he hopes that attendees will share their experiences and advances with others.

To facilitate communication, Baylor is developing a pre- and post-conference website, where attendees can submit questions and discussion topics prior to the conference and communicate and network with faculty and other attendees after the conference. The website will also provide a forum for conference faculty to share information and implementation tools with attendees.

“As part of program planning, the faculty are conducting research to identify the themes for innovation that are applicable across the widest range of CME programs,” Fordis said. Using a Delphi technique that involves several rounds of survey and prioritization, the faculty will be reaching consensus on those practices they believe to be most important in advancing CME programs.

“The Delphi technique allows a group to plan together, yet it removes any undue influence by surveying each provider independently. All ideas come to the floor independent of who voices them,” said Eric Peterson, Executive Director of the Institute for Continuing Healthcare Education, an exemplary provider and conference participant. “This is exactly the sort of planning process that would get a CME provider exemplary status.”

Attendees will be able to participate in the Delphi study to see how their responses compare to those providers already achieving exemplary compliance. Since the conference format will encourage open exchange among participants and faculty members, attendees will have many opportunities to network with an array of exemplary providers and supporters.

“For-profit organizations face different challenges than non-profit providers,” said Peterson. “The conference is unique in that it represents the spectrum of CME providers, so whether you’re a commercial provider, medical school, hospital, society or government organization, there’s someone planning the meeting who understands your CME practice.”

According to Mark Gregg, Director of Public Health at the Texas Department of Health, the ACCME’s New System for Accreditation requires CME providers to place a higher emphasis on educational quality and demonstrate that the education they are providing has an impact on physician practice.

“Using the conference and the study results to help us define exemplary practices is exciting because it challenges us to think out of the box and look at our profession in a new light,” said Gregg, who will speak at the conference.

“All of us recognize that CME is only a tool,” Fordis said. “The message from our faculty isn’t only about achieving excellence in CME activities; it’s ultimately about improving health and healthcare for all our patients.”

To learn more about the conference, contact the Office of Continuing Medical Education at Baylor, (713) 798-8237 or send e-mail to cme@bcm.tmc.edu.