Category 1 CME Credit Criteria Should be Changed

January 22, 2010 at 12:52 am Leave a comment

Floyd Pennington, PhD
President CTL Associates, Inc.

All of us active in CME know that the AMA recognizes performance improvement as an important learning activity. The AMA has established a category of learning activities called Performance Improvement CME (PI CME). Physicians can earn up to 20 CME credits for participating in a PI CME activity. It is a learning activity focused their practice and their patients care. It doesn’t get any better than that.

I am not suggesting that other learning and instructional formats do not provide valuable learning opportunities for physicians. They do. But these activities  should not be awarded the gold standard of CME credit – Category 1.

PI CME should be the only type of learning activity to qualify for AMA PRA Category 1 Credit TM. To be approved for AMA PRA Category 1 Credit TM, a CME activity should be directly linked to a practice improvement initiative for a defined group of patients, in a specific health care delivery setting, and require data to show need and impact. In addition, physicians should be required to participate in a specific number of AMA PRA Category 1 Credit TM activities that meet these criteria to earn the PRA Physicians Recognition Award – thus linking CME directly to outcomes.

Almost ten years ago and again in 2007 I made this proposition in articles published in the Almanac suggesting that the criteria for AMA PRA Category 1 Credit TM be changed. At that time and today I make several assertions, including:

  • The key benefit of being an ACCME accredited organization is the privilege of granting categories of CME credit to instructional activities.
  • The ability to grant category 1 CME credit is the only value some organizations currently in the CME enterprise are seeking.
  • With slight revisions in some of the criteria for designating AMA Physician Recognition Award (PRA) category 1 Credit TM, there could be dramatic changes in the field of CME.

The ACCME accreditation criteria have created the potential for dramatic changes in the field of CME. ACCME accredited providers are required to assess their organization’s capacity to measure changes in physician competence or performance or patient outcomes as a result of participating in approved CME initiatives. The ACCME accreditation criteria have changed. It is time for the AMA to change the criteria for what counts AMA PRA Category 1 Credit TM.

To be approved for AMA PRA Category 1 CME Credit TM, the learning/instructional activities must:

  • Be based on data measuring performance gaps in health care delivery in a specific setting;
  • Link educational initiatives to the specific root causes of the measured performance gap(s);
  • Relate CME efforts directly to the knowledge, skill, attitudes, or system changes required for success in the practice improvement initiative;
  • Evaluate improvement in terms of improved competence, performance or patient heath status.

Making this change would align ACCME accreditation criteria and the criteria for AMA PRA Category 1 Credit TM and moves PI CME from relative obscurity to center stage in our enterprise and require physicians to engage CME activities that are directly related to their continuing efforts to improve the care they provide patients in their practice.


Entry filed under: CME, CME Issues, Improvement, Physician Continuing Education, PI CME.

Beyond CME Funding for Your Organization CME Must Adopt a Standard Approach To PI CME

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