CMS ANNOUNCES NEW CONTINUING MEDICAL EDUCATION PROGRAM TO PROMOTE HEALTH CARE QUALITY IMPROVEMENT
The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) today announced a new Continuing Medical Education (CME) program that will award CME credit to physicians who participate in outpatient health care quality improvement projects with Medicare’s Quality Improvement Organizations (QIOs).
"This initiative is an important step to help ensure the quality of health care for millions of Americans, " CMS Administrator Tom Scully said. "The program provides an opportunity for physicians to build their quality improvement capacity while earning CME credit for their efforts to improve care."
As part of this CMS national pilot program, the American Medical Association (AMA) will award AMA Physician’s Recognition Award (PRA) category 1 credits to physicians who participate in projects designed to improve the care provided in their offices and/or outpatient clinics. The program also is part of an American Academy of Family Physicians pilot to award CME credit to family physicians.
Physicians can earn up to ten CME credits per year in each of three clinical areas including diabetes, influenza/pneumococcal immunizations, and breast cancer screening. Additional clinical areas may be added in the future. CMS will cover costs for thirty CME credits per year for the first 100 physicians within each state. Most QIOs will cover the costs for all additional participants in their states.
Physicians can enroll in the program through their local QIO. Participation requires a change in their office practice designed to improve clinical performance on specified quality indicators, such as the use of clinical flow sheets for patients with diabetes in order to improve appropriate test rates of A1c, lipids, and eye exams. An ongoing measurement process will assess performance and evaluate the impact of office practice changes on quality of care.
The Iowa Foundation for Medical Care (IFMC), one of the CMS QIOs that works to improve Medicare health care quality, will coordinate national implementation of the program. IFMC developed the new CME program in collaboration with the University of Iowa College of Medicine, MassPRO (the Massachusetts QIO), the Texas Medical Foundation, and the Virginia Health Quality Center.
For more information about the new CME program, physicians should contact their state’s QIO or visit the CMS website to find QIO contact information at http://cms.hhs.gov/contacts and select "QIO" from the dropdown list under Organizations.
All QIOs are participating in the national CME program except Alabama, Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands. In these QIOs, physicians can earn CME credits through traditional medical education programs rather than through their involvement in quality improvement projects.