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ACCME Commendation Criteria Review: Improves Performance

Whether you are an accredited provider such as i3 Health or you are an educational partner working with an accredited provider, it's still important to understand the criteria that underlie continuing medical education (CME) activities. This is part of a periodic series of posts looking at what each criterion means in general and what it might mean for you.

In this series, we have reached the final group of commendation criteria. CME programs are able to select any set of eight from the full menu of criteria, but at least one of those eight is required to come from this group: Achieves Outcomes. There are three criteria within this group. The first is Improves Performance (formerly Criterion 36).

The provider demonstrates improvement in the performance of learners.

This may sound familiar. You may be thinking, "Aren't we already required to do this?" Well, not exactly. Under the standard criteria, we're required to have a mission statement with the goal to improve competence, performance, or patient outcomes. Performance doesn't have to be one of them, and we aren't required to show positive outcomes. That should be our goal, but it's not required.

There are two critical elements in this criterion.

  • You need to measure changes in performance.
  • You need to demonstrate that those changes are an improvement.

To achieve this criterion, at least 10% of your activities must meet these two critical elements, with a minimum of two for programs that are very small. Evidence of 2-8 must be submitted, with the number varying depending on program size.

The difficulty with this criterion is that most programs ask learners about intent to change. And some programs may ask learners if they changed. But it is typical for this to all be self-reported. This criterion asks programs to find a way to measure these changes instead of simply relying on what learners say they are doing. A hospital-based program may find this easy to do. A medical education company such as i3 Health doesn't have the same access to data about learner performance, making this much more difficult to meet. So depending on the nature of your program, this may be the perfect "Achieves Outcomes" criterion to include in your accreditation planning, or it may be merely a best practice you consider in your planning but choose not to focus on meeting. The menu of commendation criteria exists for that very reason. One of the other "Achieves Outcomes" criteria may better fit your program. The next two posts in this series may help you identify which one is achievable for you.

Other Posts in This Series CME Mission and Program Improvement Educational Planning and Evaluation Promotes Team-based Education Addresses Public Health Priorities Enhances Skills Demonstrates Educational Leadership References

ACCME (2020). Accreditation Criteria. Available at: https://www.accme.org/accreditation-rules/accreditation-criteria

ACCME (2022). Improves Performance. Available at: https://www.accme.org/accreditation-rules/accreditation-criteria/improves-performance 

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