Life Science Compliance Update

April 26, 2017

AMA and ACCME Announce Call for Comment on Proposal

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Yesterday, the American Medical Association (AMA) and the Accreditation Council for Continuing Medical Education (ACCME) issued a call for comment on their joint proposal to simplify and align their expectations for accredited continuing medical education (CME) activities that offer the AMA PRA Category One CreditTM. The proposal for alignment attempts to encourage innovation and flexibility in accredited CME, while continuing to ensure that activities meet educational standards and are independent of commercial influence.

The proposal is aimed at allowing accredited CME providers to introduce and blend new instructional practices and learning formats that are appropriate to their learners and the setting, provided that they abide by the seven core requirements found within the proposal. Those seven core requirements are aligned with ACCME requirements and do not represent any new rules for accredited providers. Found in the proposal, the AMA simplified and reduced its learning format requirements to provide more flexibility for CME providers.

Under the proposal, CME providers may design and deliver an activity that uses blended or new approaches to driving meaningful learning and change. For these activities, the provider can designate credits on an hour-per-credit basis using their best reasonable estimate of the time required to complete the activity.

Graham McMahon, MD, MMSc, President and CEO of ACCME, noted,

We celebrate this collaborative effort with our AMA colleagues and the opportunity to advance the evolution of CME. This proposal reflects the values of our CME providers and supports their aspirations to engage in education that makes a meaningful difference in clinician practice and patient care. We want to do everything we can to encourage innovation and experimentation in CME, so that educators are free to respond nimbly to their learners’ changing needs while staying true to core principles for educational excellence and independence. We thank accredited CME providers for their participation in this process and look forward to their feedback on our proposal and to our continued work together to drive quality in postgraduate medical education and improve care for the patients and communities we all serve.

Susan Skochelak, MD, AMA Group Vice President for Medical Education, was also pleased with the proposal, stating,

Based on the feedback we received from the CME community during listening sessions, we recognize the need to better align the AMA and ACCME’s requirements for CME accreditation and reaccreditation. We believe that our proposal will support the evolution of CME to better meet the needs of educators, physicians, and the patients they serve. We want to hear from the CME community to make sure the proposal addresses their feedback. We encourage CME providers to submit their comments to the proposal so we can continue to evolve to a more streamlined system that meets their needs. 

Following the call for comment period, the AMA and ACCME will analyze the feedback and determine whether to make modifications to the proposal and glossary. Once finalized, the resulting new process will be integrated into the existing accreditation and reaccreditation processes.

If any of our readers wish to comment on the proposal, you may do so here. Comments will be accepted through Thursday, May 25, 2017, at 5:00 pm CST. If you are unable to meet that deadline, but wish to provide constructive comments, email info@accme.org to request an extension.

April 25, 2017

AMA Releases Satisfaction and Stress Survey Results of Physicians

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At the end of March 2017, the American Medical Association (AMA) released survey findings that explored the experiences, perceptions, and challenges that are currently facing physicians in the current healthcare environment.

1,200 physicians, residents, and medical students (400 of each) participated in the online survey, which when respondents knew they would become physicians, who encouraged them down that path, what challenges they face professionally, and whether they are satisfied with their career choice.

According to the survey, nine in ten physicians are satisfied with their career choice, despite challenges common to each career stage. Three quarters of medical students, residents, and physicians said that helping people is a top motivator for pursuing their career and sixty-one percent of all respondents said they would encourage others to enter the field of medicine. Personal experiences as a patient, volunteer, and with family members played a role – across career stages – in realizing one’s calling to practice medicine. Additionally, seventy-three percent of respondents knew before they reached the age of twenty and/or graduated college that they wanted to be physicians, and nearly a third knew before by the age of twelve.

“Physicians may be discouraged at times, but almost every single one of us remains confident in our decision to enter medicine and continues to be driven by our desire to help our patients,” said Andrew W. Gurman, M.D., AMA president. “As an organization, the AMA is constantly striving to deliver resources that empower physicians to maximize time with their patients and help them succeed at every stage of their medical lives. Understanding the challenges physicians face, as well as their motivations for continuing on, is critical to fulfilling that mission.”

The AMA survey, which was conducted in February 2017, found administrative burden, stress, and lack of time were among the top three challenges of respondents. For residents, however, long hours and on-call schedules were also among their top challenges. More than half of students – fifty-three percent – indicated that stress was one of their top three challenges.

Despite these challenges, only thirteen percent of all respondents indicated they had regularly questioned their decision to practice medicine – and more than half of those cited burnout as their top reason for questioning.

These survey findings are released as the AMA launches a comprehensive brand initiative that strives to demonstrate to physicians, residents and medical students the many ways the AMA listens, supports and empowers them to succeed throughout their unique journeys with timely and relevant resources.

The brand initiative is expected to reach physicians through print, digital and social media platforms. It is intended to recognize and celebrate the core reasons that physicians choose the profession while also highlighting the broad array of initiatives and resources the AMA provides in support of physicians.

December 09, 2016

AMA Calls for End to Manditory Secured Exam for MOC

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In June 2016, at the AMA House of Delegates meeting in Chicago, one of the topics discussed was Maintenance of Certification. However, what was not mentioned in the AMA press (or really, any other press) was the fact that the AMA officially opposes mandatory ABMS recertification exams.

Interestingly, the position took place with little fanfare: it wasn’t listed in the Top 10 Stories from the AMA 2016 Meeting, nor was it listed in the coverage of the MOC resolutions that passed. It was only mentioned in tweets by attendees. AMA only focused on publicizing the following MOC resolutions:

  • Examining the activities that medical specialty organizations have underway to review alternative pathways for board recertification
  • Determining whether there is a need to establish criteria and construct a tool to evaluate whether alternative methods for board recertification are equivalent to established pathways
  • Asking the American Board of Medical Specialties to encourage its member boards to review their MOC policies regarding the requirements for maintaining underlying primary or initial specialty board certification in addition to subspecialty board certification to allow physicians the option to focus on MOC activities most relevant to their practice.

While the AMA House of Delegates Reference Committee C did try to amend the resolution that called for an “immediate end of any mandatory, recertifying examination by the American Board of Medical Specialties (ABMS) or other certifying organizations as part of the recertification process,” the HOD rejected modifications made by the committee, extracted it to a full vote on the house floor, and restored the language of the resolution. The resolution language, as passed, reads:

RESOLVED, That our American Medical Association call for the immediate end of any mandatory, secured recertifying examination by the American Board of Medical Specialties (ABMS) or other certifying organizations as part of the recertification process for all those specialties that still require a secure, high-stakes recertification examination.

There were several delegates that opposed the house action, saying that it shouldn’t try to do away with secure exams. Donna Sweet, MD, stated, “Secure simply means that it guarantees that you or the person are the person who is taking the test.”

ABMS, of course, opposes the AMA resolution. In a statement released by the Association, they stated:

Consumers, patients, hospitals and other users of the Board Certification credential expect board certified physicians to be up-to-date with the knowledge, judgment and skills of their specialty—both at the point of initial certification and along the physician’s career path – and to verify it through an external assessment. The privilege to self-regulate which physicians enjoy demands that we meet that expectation with more than just continuing medical education.

Continuing medical education is an important component of a physician’s continuous learning and an important part of Maintenance of Certification (MOC), but by itself is not sufficient to verify that a physician is up to date. The other components of MOC—professionalism, external assessment of knowledge, judgment and skills, and improvement in medical practice—are also important.

The AMA also approved a resolution to continue working with ABMS to “encourage the development by and sharing between specialty boards” of alternate ways to assess medical knowledge, other than by a secure exam. The AMA HOD also bolstered its support of using appropriate continuing medical education (CME) courses to maintain quality assessments of physicians.

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