The New ACCME Commendation Criteria

In late September, the ACCME released 16 new commendation criteria divided into five categories. In order to achieve compliance with the new criteria, providers must demonstrate compliance with at least seven criteria from any of the five identified categories plus one criterion from the Achieves Outcome category for a total of eight criteria. 

Here is a brief summary of each of the five categories and corresponding criteria:

1. Promotes Team-Based Education (C23-25)

The Promotes Team-Based Education category centers on collaboration in the medical profession, a key principle which is also reflected in CME team-based education.  Criterion 23 is directed at involving interprofessional colleagues not just on the CME planning committee, but also in the delivery of the education.  Consider the target audience and ensure inclusion of interprofessional colleagues not only in teaching the subject matter, but also in the planning of the education.  The basis of Criterion 24 is acknowledgement that the goal of CME is to improve the well-being of the patients and the public.  A powerful way to create engagement is to involve patients and the public in the teaching of physicians and interprofessional colleagues, which could include planning committee interaction, but also providing context during education delivery.  Similarly, Criterion 25 encourages the involvement of students in CME planning and delivery.  Students can be informative and invaluable in constructing educational programs, particularly for younger generations of learners.   

2. Addresses Public Health Priorities (C26-28)

The Addresses Public Health Priorities category puts a focus on those who have the opportunity to use their CME programs to leverage improvements in public health.  An organization can achieve Criterion 26 by using EMR (electronic medical record) data or registry information to understand and improve individual or group practices.  Criterion 27 addresses factors beyond clinical care such as changing the public health or community environment, or creating implementation plans to support patient engagement.  The ACCME cited an example of creating an implementation plan that encourages patients to participate in healthy lifestyle behaviors.  Criterion 28 is all about collaboration.  Creating meaningful collaborations with other organizations, such as public health societies or departments, using CME to help the community evolve. 

3. Enhances Skills (C29-32)

The Enhances Skills category is focused on supplementary education and tools to support learners. Criterion 29 requires providers to develop CME that improves communication skills and provide observation, evaluation, and formative feedback to learners. Similarly, Criterion 30 requires providers to deliver CME addressing technical and/or procedural skills while once again building in observation, evaluation, and formative feedback. Criterion 31 is focused on individualized learning plans that allow learners to slow or accelerate their learning over a period of time. Finally, Criterion 32 is a reworking of the current Criterion 17 (C17) that requires providers to utilize support strategies to enhance change and analyze the effectiveness of such support strategies.

4. Demonstrates Educational Leadership (C33-35)

This category is best summarized as advancing CME. To be compliant with Criterion 33, a provider must be engaged in scholarly pursuits relevant to CME which includes submitting, presenting, or publishing a poster, abstract, or manuscript to, or in, a peer-reviewed forum. Criterion 34 could be described as a CME program within a CME program as this criterion requires providers to create and implement a professional development plan for the CME team that is based on documented needs. Finally, Criterion 35 compliance requires providers to submit four examples of an innovation in the CME program that improves the provider’s ability to meet its mission. 

5. Achieves Outcomes (C36-38)

All providers must demonstrate compliance with at least one criterion in the Achieves Outcomes category. The criteria in this category are all about data and, more specifically, improvements in data. While Criterion 36 is focused on data that demonstrates improvements in learners’ performance, Criterion 37 is focused on demonstrated improvements in healthcare quality, and Criterion 38 is concerned with improvements in patient or community outcomes. 

Lastly, please note that providers in the November 2017 – November 2019 cohorts may choose between existing commendation criteria (C16 – C22) or the new commendation criteria (C23 – C38).   After November 2019, providers must use the new criteria (C23-C38).
For more information about the ACCME’s new Commendation Criteria, please click here.


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