With the introduction of the new ACCME Standards for Integrity and Independence in Accredited Continuing Education, the active goal is improving transparency for the planners, faculty, and learners taking part in accredited continuing education (CE).
This article will go over the changes regarding how and when financial disclosures are made and commercial support addressed, as well as the identification, mitigation, and disclosure to improve overall transparency in accredited CE activities. It will also look at sales and marketing, including ancillary marketing during live events. Let’s find out how to bring about better transparency for CE learners.
Let the Light Shine In: Collections, Mitigations, and Financial Disclosures
When it comes to transparency, you can’t leave any stone unturned. Collect, collect, and collect even more when it comes to information from planners, faculty, speakers, and any others who would be in control of educational content. You should do this up to twenty-four months before their involvement with the accredited activities. This is up from the previous twelve months. Be sure they’re disclosing all their financial relationships with ineligible companies, no matter what the amount is. You also have to collect the name(s) of the ineligible company or companies that they’re involved with.
Who is part of these financial relationships? They include employees, researchers, consultants, advisors, speakers, and independent contractors, as well as those who are patent or beneficiary holders, executives, and anyone with an ownership interest of an ineligible company.
Make it crystal clear: Resolve it, end it, and mitigate it
Take steps to prevent those having relevant financial relationships from adding commercial bias into the content. Add transparency to your accredited CE. Mitigate any relationships for those persons based on their individual roles in your activities. Document the steps that you’ve taken to mitigate those relevant relationships.
Let your learners know
Now that you’ve collected your information and performed your mitigations, it’s time to clear things with your learners. Ensure that they receive the correct information:
- Give them the names of the individuals with relevant financial relationships.
- Disclose to them the names of the ineligible companies with which the individuals have relationships.
- Provide them with the nature of the relationships.
- Give them a statement that tells them that you have mitigated all relevant financial relationships.
With this information in hand, your learners can make their own decisions about whether to attend an accredited CE activity.
Clarity through Proper Commercial Support
Do you accept commercial support—financial support or in-kind? These days, it may be impossible not to, especially when those attending your accredited CE may already have established relationships with individuals from ineligible companies. How do you keep things transparent when it comes to handling commercial support appropriately? Here are the things that you have to do:
- Make all the decisions about the receipt and disbursement of the commercial support.
- Document everything regarding the terms, conditions, and agreements of the commercial support before the start of the education. Don’t leave it to the last minute.
- Keep meticulous records of the commercial support amount and how it was used.
- Disclose to your learners the names of the ineligible companies providing the support and the nature of the support if it was in-kind. The information can’t include company corporate or product logos, trade names, or product group messages.
Once you’ve reached an agreement with those providing commercial support, there’s the issue of disbursements of the funding. You’ll have to abide by these rules.
It’s Clear Cut: Freedom from No Sales or Marketing
On your road to transparent accredited CE, the last thing that you want is sales messaging surrounding your learners.
It’s up to you to communicate to your faculty that they cannot actively promote or sell services during accredited CE activities. You’ve probably already heard of or been to lectures or business meetings where the speaker puts on their one- or two-day events (and is being paid royally to do so) and breaks at the end of each session to promote their latest book or a course full of multiple CDs or DVDs for a specially discounted price.
If you intend to share your learners’ names or contact details with an ineligible company, you must know how you’re going to accomplish that. You’ll need the explicit consent of each learner. So, if you ask for consent at the time of registration for an accredited CE activity, every learner must have the ability to opt out and still register for your course. Your consent statement must be visible, not hidden in the terms and conditions.
Clearly Speaking on Ancillary Marketing and Non-accredited Activities
The end of your transparency journey regards what you should do about ancillary marketing and non-accredited activities. To start, if you have arrangements to allow ineligible companies to market or exhibit in association with your accredited CE education, you will have various restrictions.
Spot the difference
Your learners must be able to tell the difference between accredited CE education and other activities, like non-accredited activities and marketing from ineligible companies.
Your learners come in good faith to the educational space or activity. When they attend live activities, whether in person or virtual, you must ensure that there are thirty-minute intervals between the accredited activities and any other activities. Those non-accredited activities must also be clearly labeled.
When it comes to print, online, or digital activities, make sure your learners can engage with the education without being presented with product promotion or advertisement. For educational materials in accredited activities, make sure these are free of marketing by ineligible companies.
Transparency Is Improving Accredited Continuing Education
The new ACCME Standards are resulting in greater transparency for accredited continuing education. The improved ways of financial disclosures, commercial support, sales and marketing, and ancillary marketing and nonaccredited activities are straightforward and practical and will help improve how accredited CE works going into the future.
At EthosCE, we understand the challenges of staying up to date and compliant with ACCME changes. We know how critical it is to get things done right the first time when it comes to team-based education and success.
To learn how EthosCE can enhance the continuing education of your healthcare teams, schedule a free 1-on-1 demo with one of our specialists today!