Are you using commercial support to help pay all or part of your CME activities? If so, accepting these financial or in-kind contributions means you must follow specific ACCME guidelines. These new rules on managing commercial support are outlined in the recent ACCME’s Standards of Integrity and Independence in Accredited Continuing Education, taking over from the Standards for Commercial Support.
As a CME provider, you must ensure that your education remains independent of ineligible companies and that the support doesn’t result in commercial bias or commercial interest in the education that you provide. The support also can’t establish a financial relationship between the ineligible company and your planners, faculty, or others in control of the education’s content. How can you be sure you’re headed in the right direction?
Here, we provide four tips for managing the commercial support for your CME program.
Tip 1: Stay in Control: Your Decision Making and Disbursement Depend on It
When you’re managing commercial support for your CME programs, the ball’s in your court. You’re responsible for ensuring that your education stays independent of any ineligible companies and that support doesn’t result in commercial influence or bias. Those involved in the support cannot establish a financial relationship with their ineligible company or your planners, faculty, speakers, or anyone else who controls the content of your education.
The question of disbursement
If you’re dealing with ineligible companies and managing commercial support, how you disburse that support is critical. Here are the things that you need to know:
- No ineligible companies can pay for any expenses related to your education or that of your learners.
- You can use commercial support to fund the honoria or travel expenses of planners, faculty, authors, speakers, and others in control of content, but only for those roles.
- You cannot use commercial support to pay for travel, lodging, honoraria, or personal expenses for individual learners or groups of learners in accredited education.
- You may use commercial support to defray or eliminate the cost of the education for all learners.
Tip 2: Get It All in Writing: Document Any Agreements
It’s among the ACCME directives that every agreement must be documented when dealing with ineligible companies and educational CME content.
The terms, conditions, purposes, and amount of your commercial support must all be documented in an agreement between you and the ineligible company. This agreement has to be documented before the start of the accredited education. It’s up to you to record the nature of the support if it was in-kind. If there is an existing agreement with a commercial supporter, you can document and sign that agreement indicating your acceptance of the terms, conditions, and amount of commercial support that you will receive.
Tip 3: Record It All
Keep a meticulous record of the amount or kind of commercial support that you received and how it was used. You must produce that accounting, upon request, to the accrediting body or the ineligible company that provided the commercial support.
Tip 4: Disclose the Information to Your Learners
Once you’ve documented the agreement and recorded all the information, you must disclose it to your learners. This will include the name(s) of the ineligible company(or companies) that provided the commercial support and the nature of the support if it was in-kind. Disclosure can never include the ineligible companies’ corporate or product logos, trade names, or product group messages.
For more information, the ACCME provides answers to common commercial support questions.
Getting It Right from the Start
Managing commercial support for your organization can be somewhat complex, and working with ineligible companies may leave you wondering how you should proceed. However, if you follow the ACCME’s guidelines about how to deal with your commercial support, this aspect of planning your educational CME activities can be straightforward, leaving you to provide your learners with the best educational experiences possible.
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!