I spent last Friday night reading through the ACCME’s executive summary of its Board of Directors March 2012 meeting and…hold on a second, please…
<weeps softly into hands>
<ponders lack of social life since having children>
…and curating data from past executive summaries (the last one available online is from November 2007). I did so because I was curious about two trends I’ve noticed in the CME community and wanted to see if my anecdotal observations held true. The first trend is fairly obvious; the second one maybe a little less so. Let’s go to the data!
Trend #1: The amount of CME providers producing certified CME activities continues to decrease
I should warn you before you look at this chart – it’s not pretty. In fact, I recommend using the clip below from Mozart’s Requiem as your soundtrack while reading it.
What I did was review all of the ACCME’s executive summaries back through November ’07 and record the number of ACCME-accredited providers and the number of providers accredited by ACCME Recognized Accreditors (state and regional organizations). The ACCME releases three executive summaries a year, so I had a total of 14 summaries to gather data from. Take a look:
Ugh. Since November 2007, the total amount of ACCME-accredited providers has decreased by 8.5% (64 providers) and the total amount of providers accredited by ACCME Recognized Accreditors has decreased by an amazing (I think it’s amazing anyway. Maybe it’s not. Judge for yourself) 17.5% (291 providers). That means there are 355 fewer organizations today producing CME activities then there were in 2007. That seems like a lot to me. Am I crazy? (Don’t answer that.
Trend #2: The amount of CME providers receiving Accreditation with Commendation is increasing
I found this one to be fascinating. In November ’07, March ’08, and July ’08, the percentage of providers up for reaccreditation receiving A with C (yes, I abbreviated it. I’m lazy.) was 9%, 8%, and 5%, respectively (So, in November ’07, 92 providers were up for reaccreditation; 9% of them received A with C.) The next summary was from November ’08 , which also happens to be when the ACCME officially started using the 2006 updated criteria for reaccreditations. Watch what happens (reminder: the percentages here are for the percentage of providers in that cohort that received A of C. Got it? Great.) :
That’s…quite an increase. Let’s look at this in a slightly different way. From November ’07 to July ’08, 294 providers were up for reaccreditation; 20 of them (6.8%) received A with C. From July ’11 to March ’12, 155 providers were up for reaccreditation; 53 received A with C (34.2%). Anyway you slice it, there are more CME providers getting A with C.
So, what does all this mean? I have two theories.
Glass Half Full: CME providers unable to adjust to the 2006 ACCME criteria are being weeded out. At the same time, the criteria have been around long enough that the rest of the CME providers have adapted and embraced it. We have fewer providers now, but we have a higher percentage of quality CME providers.
Glass Half Empty: The new ACCME criteria has actually made it easier to get A with C. It has moved from a slightly more subjective “graded” system, to a more objective “pass/fail” system. You no longer have to go “above and beyond” to get A with C; you just have to “pass” (be in compliance) all the criterion.
Do I really believe the Half Glass Empty theory? No, not really. The reaccreditation process is still really frickin’ hard and I congratulate any organization that gets Accreditation with Commendation. It remains a special achievement and by no means am I trying to diminish that. I just find it interesting that both the percentage and total number of providers getting A with C has had such a dramatic increase. Don’t you think that’s interesting? No? Just me? Would you find a video of Cookie Monster lip-synching and dancing to Tom Waits’ “God’s Away On Business” to be interesting? Yes? OK, here you go: