Continuing medical education (CME) is one of the many responsibilities of a practicing physician. Many states in the United States require physicians to meet an annual quota of CME credits so they can keep their medical licenses. However, where they obtain these credits is up to them.
Many institutions offer CME courses to help physicians hone their skills and enhance their knowledge. If you want to become a part of this group, you need to learn the basics of creating CME courses and applying for CME accreditation.
If you’re not sure how to proceed with this task, this article will shed light on everything you need to know. At the end of this guide, you will have a better understanding of how to apply for CME credits, how to become a CME provider, and how to create a CME course.
What are CME credits?
CME consists of a wide variety of educational activities to help active, practicing physicians maintain, improve, or develop their skills, knowledge, performance, and relationships. Only after completing a CME course do physicians obtain a CME credit.
Authorized by the American Medical Association (AMA) Physician’s Recognition Award (PRA), CME credits allow physicians to continue practicing, maintain their licenses, and keep their credentials.
Two categories of CME credits
The AMA assigns CME credits based on two categories, mainly AMA PRA Category 1 Credit and AMA PRA Category 2 Credit.
Category 1 Credits are considered the most accepted CME credits. Because of this, they are also considered the basis of receiving any AMA PRA awards. To obtain such credits, physicians must take part in activities that are sponsored and certified by U.S.-based CME providers. These providers are accredited by the Accreditation Council for Continuing Education, also known as ACCME.
On the other hand, Category 2 Credits are credits awarded for courses or activities not specifically certified by Category 1. As such, it’s the responsibility of the physician to self-document and self-claim the activity for the council to recognize them.
If you want to provide CME credits to physicians, the best course of action is to apply as a provider for continuing medical education credits Category 1.
CME accreditation — How to plan and execute
If you want to apply for AMA PRA Category 1 Credit, here are some of the requirements, guidelines, and checklists you need to complete.
Before submitting your application, you first need to know if you qualify for providing CME activities. That said, look at these criteria to see if you’re eligible as a CME credit provider:
- Per ACCME, all CME activities must serve to maintain, develop, or enhance the skills, knowledge, professional performance, and relationships of physicians so they can offer their services to the public.
- The content of the course should be within the following categories: basic medical sciences, provision of public health care, or discipline of clinical medicine.
- All the activities included in the course must be designed specifically to fill in practice gaps and fulfill the educational needs of physicians.
- The activities must also promote healthcare improvements, as well as a balanced view of the different therapeutic options.
- All activities must not be commercialized and must not be promoted to serve the proprietary interests of the business.
- Anyone who demonstrates commercial interest is not allowed to play any role in planning, developing, or implementing any CME activity unless they can prove that they will not present or control any content to push for the products and services of their company. In addition, the only content they can present must revolve around the science of physiology, discovery, or methodology.
To learn how to get a course approved for CME, you must ensure that you meet these criteria.
If you meet the above criteria, it’s time to move to the next step, which is to familiarize yourself with the application timeline. It is as follows:
- Contact the AACC CME officer before you plan for the activity. The officer will further expound on the application process and criteria. Likewise, they will explain where you can find application documents so you can proceed with the process more efficiently.
- Once you have this information on hand, be sure to review all the forms and guidelines thoroughly so you can schedule the submission of your completed application within the set deadline.
- All of the necessary documents must be submitted within 60 days before the start of the activity. The council will not accept any late submissions.
The submission of the application form and accompanying documents must be completed within the given timeframe. Moreover, it must be sent to an assigned CME officer via email.
For any questions or concerns, you can contact the CME officer directly by calling 1-800-892-1400 or sending an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
It’s important to note that before you can promote your activity as a CME-accredited course in brochures or any other announcements, you need to get approval from the council.
The AACC CME Committee will review your application and determine whether your proposed activity meets the ACCME criteria for Category 1 credits.
The whole process can take anywhere from four to five weeks after submitting your application. During this time, a CME officer will inform you whether your application has been approved, approved conditionally, or rejected.
If you receive conditional approval, the officer will ask you to forward supplementary information to the committee within one week so they can make their final decision.
Once you receive an approval notice, the CME officer will give you further instructions and provide you with the following information:
- Accreditation language and the number of credits you need to insert into your program announcements, brochures, and course materials.
- Guidelines on summarizing the disclosure information. This should be provided to every attendee before the activity begins.
- Commercial support acknowledgment.
- Administration of evaluation forms and certificates for applicants.
Within 30 days after the activity, you must send these documents to your CME officer.
- A copy of the course materials you distributed to your attendees.
- The total number of attendees
- A financial statement that documents the expenditure and receipts of any commercial support funds you received.
Budgeting and fundraising strategies
Applying for a CME course is not cheap. You can expect to spend $1,000 to over $2,500 to promote your course. As such, you must develop a budgeting plan and implement fundraising strategies to financially support your activity.
One of the ways you can finance your application is to ask for commercial support or an educational grant from a commercial organization. Private medical practices are open to providing educational grants so you can promote your course and receive CM Accreditation. If you’re tied up with an institution, this step should be easy. But if not, you may need to scout for the right sponsor.
It may take time, but once you get the financial support you need, you can move on with your application process.
Technological solutions for CME providers
There’s no doubt that applying for CME credits is tedious, time-consuming, and overwhelming. There’s a lot that goes on in the application process. That’s why we’re here to help you out.
At Attendee Interactive, we have technological solutions that can help you manage the entire accreditation process on a single flexible platform.
This is specifically designed to transform the way you handle the accreditation process. By offering flexible solutions, support, and ease of use, we can take the brunt of all the administrative work so you can focus on the things that need your attention the most.
Moreover, our solution is customizable, easy to configure, and compatible with other technology. Because of this, you can collaborate with other people on your team, modify the platform conveniently, and experience unparalleled freedom.
With our solution, you can skip all the chaos and work on delivering an effective course.
Delivering CME credits
When delivering CME-accredited courses, you need to make sure that your programs are convenient, valuable, and effective. This means, your course offerings must appeal to lifelong learners.
What makes a CME course valuable?
If you want to create a CME course that’s both effective and valuable, you need to incorporate the following elements into your program.
- Reliable Information: All the activities and information you share in your continuing medical education program should be based on updated clinical research from leaders of the industry. Always make sure that the data you provide is accurate and relevant to your participants for years to come.
- Interactive Features: Discussions and lectures are given on any course. If you want to elevate your program to new heights, you need to incorporate interactive features that involve the participants. Some examples include gamification, breakout rooms, or polling that will captivate your audience and help them obtain knowledge more dynamically.
- Virtual Opportunities: With hybrid learning on the rise, a strategic move as a CME provider is to adapt your course to open virtual opportunities for your audience. Remember, physicians and healthcare professionals have extremely busy schedules. Providing them with a chance to attend your course with just a phone, laptop, or desktop computer will put you at a competitive advantage.
In-demand topics for your course
When creating a continuing medical course, you also need to be aware of the topics that are currently in demand. This will help you target more participants and achieve success. That said, here are the following topics you can include in your course:
- Clinic and Hospital Management: This is best suited for clinicians whose main responsibility is to manage a medical facility. With this course, they will learn how to make sure that everything is running smoothly.
- Educational Methodology: This is fit for physicians who are also faculty members teaching different topics in medicine. Especially for those who are only exploring the academic fields, this course will greatly help them in determining the right instructional approach.
- Practice Management: This is for medical professionals working in family medicine. This course will provide guidance on how they can serve their patients better and add more value to their lives.
- Coding and Reimbursement: Medicine is much more than clinical trials and operations. It also involves administrative tasks that many professionals tend to overlook. With this course, physicians and nurses can learn more about coding guidelines and payment processes to improve the facility’s daily operations. After all, we live in a digital world and the field of medicine is no exception.
Knowing what topics to promote and which instructors to assign are two different things. While you have an idea of the activities you want to incorporate into your course, you may need to do extra research to find the perfect teachers.
If you work in a medical facility and have access to field experts, searching for instructors should be a breeze. But if you need help gathering a pool of potential speakers or presenters, we have the solution for you.
Attendee Interactive solutions to deliver CME courses and credits more efficiently
Our inclusive platform allows you to streamline session and abstract submissions, manage your speakers, manage your attendees, and issue CME credits and certifications.
With our session and abstract submission review feature, you can ensure that only the best content will land in your hands. You won’t need spreadsheets to keep track of abstract and session submissions because you can set requirements, centralize the data, and give your attendees only the best speakers possible.
Once you find the best speakers for your course, you can manage their sessions and arrange your schedule accordingly with our session and speaker management feature. Here, you can delegate responsibilities, make real-time updates, and enable more independence so your speakers can deliver topics more efficiently.
Besides managing speakers, we also offer an attendee management system. This includes tools to support them in their continuing medical journey and make claiming credits much simpler.
Besides this, we also issue CME credits and certifications that can help you and your staff deliver credits with so much ease.
Promoting your CME offerings
At this point, you have everything you need to develop your course. You’ve already had your course approved and accredited. The next step would be to promote your course to your target audience. To do this, you need to implement marketing techniques to drive views and online visibility.
Here are three strategies to help you generate new leads and convert viewers into customers.
1. Leverage Google Retargeting
Google retargeting is a strategy that can promote your course on different websites. You can decide what type of websites to promote your courses on and this strategy gives you an upper hand in generating brand awareness, improving audience engagement, and increasing the potential for conversions and revenue.
Compared to PPC ads, this method is more affordable and much more effective. You get the same visibility — if not more — and you’re able to engage with your audience in a much more organic manner.
2. Utilize LinkedIn Groups
Another strategy is to utilize LinkedIn groups. LinkedIn is a social media platform that connects businesses and professional individuals. There, you can find practicing physicians who are building their network or looking for facilities to work at. When you promote your course on LinkedIn, you can target your audience directly and get immediate feedback.
3. Maximize Social Media Channels
While LinkedIn is popular among professionals, it’s not the only social media platform they’re present on. You can also find your target market on platforms like Facebook and Instagram.
When promoting on Facebook, it’s best to create a Facebook group and invite potential instructors and interested participants. This is a great way for them to not only get to know your course better but also interact with their peers.
When using Instagram, you need to be more visual. Here, you can post infographics, brochures, and other visual information to lure prospective participants to your site. To increase your visibility rate, make sure to follow relevant pages like medical schools and pharmaceutical companies.
Measuring CME credit offering success
The best way to measure the success of your course is to determine whether the information and activities you provide have manifested in the way practitioners operate daily or how community health is perceived.
Of course, this form of measurement is subjective. If you want more concrete proof, you can get feedback from instructors and participants. In addition, you can also get a detailed report of your performance from the committee. Both these methods can give you substantial insight into the strengths and weaknesses of your course.
Hopefully, with this data in hand, you can improve your future courses.
As a CME provider, offering an accredited course is important because you take an instrumental role in refining the skills of active physicians and improving their patient care. By doing this, you also help address real-world challenges in healthcare and provide viable solutions to push the industry forward. With the help of our solutions and other forms of technology, you make CME credits more accessible to a wider audience.