MECCs stricter with rules than schools

New data support something medical education companies have long contended: They are more compliant with requirements for commercial support and less likely to be on probation than other provider types.

Findings released online by the Accreditation Council for Continuing Medical Education (ACCME) offer providers the ability to see how they stack up against their peer groups in several of ACCME's essential elements.

“The biggest message is that, mostly speaking, the providers are not distinguishable by compliance type,” said  ACCME chief executive Murray Kopelow, MD.

Evidence of parity tells only part of the story, though.

Medical education and communication companies (MECCs) have taken heat over such issues as their independence, most pointedly from a group of academics who argued in the Journal of  the American Medical Association for their elimination from the CME process.

Yet finger-pointing should go in the opposite direction. Just 1% of MECCs are on ACCME probation, compared with 3% of physician societies and 2% of medical schools, stats show.

Moreover, societies and medical schools are more likely to be out of compliance with disclosure (ACCME element 3.3 A) and management of funds (3.3 D) than the publishing/education companies.

The three provider types compare evenly on 3.3 B and C, control of content and separation of promotion from education, respectively (see chart above).

Schools lead other provider types in percentage earning the commendable status, at 23%.

MECCs view the information as a vindication of sorts.

“The data refute the charges put against us by those who feel that MECCs do not have a legitimate role in the process,” said Kurt Boyce, president of the NAAMECC. 

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