The deadline for ACCME-accredited providers to submit Annual Activity Report data is March 31,2011. AOE addresses frequently asked questions related to the submission process, as providers are required to submit data using the ACCME’s Program and Activity Reporting System (PARS).


Welcome to AOE Consulting’s video blog, CME Watch.

Today I’ll be covering information related to the uploading of activity data into the ACCME’s Program and Activity Reporting System, also known as PARS.

Next Thursday, March 31st marks the deadline by which accredited providers will have had to have submitted their annual report data to the ACCME. This is the first year of PARS and the ACCME does have numerous resources on its web site. AOE has also recently helped several of its providers complete their 2010 submissions and there’s several frequently asked questions that I’d like to address today.

First, a common question that AOE has received is what’s the easiest way to upload data in the PARS system?
First and foremost, this is dependent on how many activities you as a provider have to report to the ACCME. If you’re an organization who has fewer than ten programs, that maybe manual upload of activities is the most efficient way. Each of these methods, of which there’s three options available to providers, does require that you first establish a PARS account, and you’ve likely done that by this point.

So, if you are using the manual upload method, essentially you go into the PARS account and you’re able to one by one enter activities in the required information.

If your organization offers more than ten activities however, it may be that one of the other two options is what’s going to be most efficient. AOE’s partners have commonly used the tab-delimited batch upload method, which allows you to enter large amounts of data with one upload. The tab-delimited batch upload method does support those providers who are currently tracking activities using an excel spreadsheet. Essentially, you do have to download a template; a tab delimited template, from the ACCME’s Website but typically its only required a slight modification of a provider’s current excel spreadsheet and then like I said, they’re able to upload large amounts of activity data with just one upload.

The final method available to providers is what’s known as the XML upload. This does require if you were to use it, that you do currently have a CME activity tracking system that supports the exporting of XML files. It doesn’t support those organizations who use excel spread sheets.

Another common question that AOE has received from partners is what is the cause for error messages?
Like I said, what’s most common among AOE’s partners has been the tab-delimited batch upload process. An error message can come from a variety of reasons but what’s been most common as we’ve troubleshooted this, is providers are incorporating characters that aren’t recognized by that particular spreadsheet. Characters such as commas, periods that are placed in the wrong location or dollar signs. It’s also important that you don’t modify this particular spreadsheet. So if you have blank fields, because some of the fields are optional, you need to ensure that you’re leaving those fields blank but not deleting entire columns.

A final question that AOE has received recurringly, is how do you know that your ACCME data is complete and officially submitted to the ACCME?
This is really a three step process. The first requires that you ensure that all your activities within the 2010 period are marked as closed and this is an automatic process. If you enter an activity and all the required information has been input into a particular activity file, then it will automatically transition itself to closed.
The next step is to ensure that you’ve included all of the program summary information. Some of these fields do auto populate but there are several required fields for which you do have to manually enter data. Once you’ve included all this data, you do want to hit the save button and the last step then is to attest to the ACCME that your activity data is complete and ready for the ACCME’s review.

If you or your organization has any questions about the PARS system or the ACCME’s Annual Report, please don’t hesitate to contact AOE.