The Accreditation Council for Continuing Medical Education’s Board of Directors voted at its July meeting to approve a revised process for handling complaints regarding ACCME-accredited providers. The revisions, which were proposed in an effort to balance transparency with provider confidentiality, were for the most part favorably greeted during a call-for-comment period earlier this year.

Using a model similar to that of the ACCME’s accreditation review procedures, the revised process allows the ACCME to keep confidential the identity of providers found to have a noncompliant activity. Changes to provider status will become public, though the ACCME will not disclose the reason behind the status change. Also, to help other providers and other stakeholders educate themselves about what is and is not acceptable, the ACCME will publish examples and summaries from the complaints process, though it will not name the providers involved.

"The ACCME's revised complaints process increases the accredited CME system’s transparency, while maintaining providers' confidentiality, thus serving the best interests of the continuing medical education community, physician learners, and the public," said Murray Kopelow, MD, the ACCME’s chief executive.

But the ACCME isn’t done with the topic just yet. It also issued a new call for comments about what obligations providers who are found to be noncompliant with ACCME Standards for Commercial Support 1 and 5, or the Content Validation Statements, have to the noncompliant activity’s learners. The proposal includes requiring the accredited provider to provide corrective information to the learners, faculty, and planners, and submit a report outlining its actions to the ACCME. However, the proposal does not ask providers to communicate the corrections in any specific way, or obligate them to inform stakeholders that the activity was found to be noncompliant. To further clarify the proposal, Kopelow offers an audio commentary on the ACCME Web site. You can submit comments up to 500 words to the ACCME until September 15, 2010.

Also at its July meeting, the ACCME’s board reaffirmed that knowledge-based information is deemed to be acceptable for accredited CME activities. However, even if the majority of their activities focus on just increasing learners’ knowledge of a subject, providers must still be able to demonstrate that their knowledge-based activities contribute to their general program’s goals of changing learner competence, performance, or patient outcomes. Now that the first six cohorts of providers have gone through the 2006 Accreditation Criteria requirements, the ACCME is reviewing the requirements, including asking for feedback from CME providers, before issuing final wording on the criteria.

A summary of other actions taken at the board’s July meeting is available on the ACCME’s Web site.