Big drop for community-based CME

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State-accredited CME providers continue to decrease, but so far the trend has not posed a threat to physician education, one official says.

Between 2003 and 2010, the number of providers accredited by state medical societies fell by 18.7% to 1,450. 

Unabated, this trend could “impede the delivery of cost-effective, quality, accessible certified CME” dealing with local health issues, noted an internal report by AMA's Council on Medical Education.

One reason behind the drop is the annual fee for accreditation, which is slated to go up to $550 by 2013. AMA has asked ACCME to reconsider. But Dr. Murray Kopelow, ACCME chief, said he delayed the hike, though  new fees will go up as planned.

ACCME's compliance criteria, updated in 2006 to require providers to link activities to practice gaps and evaluate for change, is another reason. Kopelow said 14% of state providers have left the system the last five years. “But there is a national consensus that this is the CME we want.” 

Overall, AMA's worries are “very important and very relevant,” he said. Yet, “the scope of the enterprise and the amount of participation seems to be the same,” at least at the national level, because some providers switch to joint sponsorship and the CME gets “redistributed.” 

Said Kopelow: “When the same amount of continuing education can be delivered through one accreditation, that's highly efficient.”

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