Last month we asked how CME providers feel about the idea of their accreditor, the Accreditation Council for Continuing Medical Education, getting active on social media. With only 23 responses, it was hardly a scientific poll, but the results nonetheless were interesting.

Almost 60 percent said they would welcome another channel to communicate with the ACCME, and 36 percent said that all organizations, including ACCME, should be monitoring and responding to social media mentions. However, 23 percent said it would make them hesitate to participate if they knew ACCME was listening—and one person commented, “They may already be lurking and we don’t even know it.”

When asked how they would like to see the ACCME engage in social media, communicating on an official ACCME LinkedIn page was the big winner at 70 percent, followed closely, at 65 percent, by continuing to add videos to the ACCME channel. More than half said they’d like to see the ACCME start a blog, though only 22 percent wanted to read ACCME’s comments on related blogs. Each receiving about 26 percent of the votes were to have ACCME tweet updates, participate in LinkedIn community group discussions, hold Google+ Hangouts on various topics, and create a Pinterest board for accreditation-related topics. People were less keen on the idea of the ACCME creating an official Google+ page (17 percent), and only 9 percent were interested in having ACCME representatives participate in industry Twitter hashtag discussions.

About half of the respondents said that they did not believe today’s socially networked environment affects the relationship between accreditors and the accredited. As one said, “It could, but I have not seen evidence that it does.” Another said “No, there is no effect. I expect the ACCME to continue to be conservatively refrained with its responses.” A provider’s relationship with an accreditor should be affected by whether or not the accreditor is socially engaged, argued another, because “We should always approach social media as if you are standing on a street corner shouting into a megaphone. Always assume anyone and everyone can and will read/listen to what you are sharing.” As several noted, the ACCME likely already is.

Those who believe it is affecting the relationship had this to say: “Accreditors have lost some of their power to scare the accredited. The accredited view the accreditors as more reasonable. However, this may be creating a false perception. We’ll be left wondering, ‘What's the real ACCME?’” As they indicated previously, some found the idea that ACCME may be lurking a little disconcerting, saying that not knowing what is being monitored by whom make them want to be less open on their social networks. On the other hand, another person noted that it provides an opportunity for more transparency and two-way communication. But maybe that’s not such a good thing? One responder notes that while social media interactions may improve communication between organizations, communications with accrediting organizations should remain through official channels.

Then again, said one responder, it “depends what you mean by ‘affect.’ Social media are simply communication channels, but they provide unique ways to communicate—more timely, more personal, less scripted, more conversational. If the ACCME is willing to be more timely, more personal, less scripted, more conversational, then they should participate, if not then they should at least be in tune with how the community is using these tools to drive process improvement.”

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