The number of ACCME-accredited providers has increased, from 687 to 702. The latest count was furnished by ACCME in a September update to its report on the national accreditation system. The update, which includes compliance findings and accreditation decision outcome data from November 2008 through July 2012, shows a small increase, but one that bucks a five-year trend.

As of the preceding total (March 2012), the number of ACCME-accredited providers had been stuck at 687—a 9% decrease from the 751 ACCME-accredited providers seen in 2007. Where did the 15 new providers (687 vs. 702) come from?

For one thing, the increase is definitely not a statistical anomaly, said Dr. Murray Kopelow, MD, ACCME president and CEO. Increases or decreases in provider counts have always been the “net” of losses and gains.

“The change in numbers is the net result of providers moving between state accreditation and ACCME accreditation (in both directions), providers that are no longer accredited and initial applicants that have achieved Provisional Accreditation,” he told MM&M in an e-mail.

Of the 15 new providers, six were added in the most recent accreditation cycle and nine in the preceding one. The new count includes three new medical schools and five new providers in the publisher/education company category.

By contrast, state or territorial medical society accredited CME providers showed an overall 11% decline, according to ACCME’s figures published last year.

Since 2008, med ed companies have faced a bruising mix of fewer dollars available for grants, combined with steeper fees and more elaborate policies for maintaining accreditation. Due to the leaner funding environment, more may yet drop out, experts say. Some of the smaller specialty societies are also at risk.