FAQs

Overview of Credit System
What is MSV/the ACCME?
The Inova Office of CME (OCME) is accredited by the Medical Society of Virginia (MSV) to sponsor (designate credit) continuing medical education (CME) for physicians. OCME is tasked with ensuring that all CME activities are in compliance with the Accreditation Council for Continuing Medical Education (ACCME) Essential Areas, Elements, Criteria, Policies and Standards for Commercial Support (SCS) as well as other regulations and laws as they relate to the provision of CME.
What kind of credit are you offering to physicians?
We certify activities for AMA PRA Category 1 Credit™. The American Medical Association’s (AMA) Physician’s Recognition Program has been in effect for more than 40 years. AMA PRA credit is recognized and accepted by hospital credentialing bodies, state medical licensure boards and medical specialty certifying boards, as well as other organizations. Within the United States, the AMA only authorizes organizations that are accredited by the ACCME or by a state medical society recognized by the ACCME, referred to as “accredited CME providers,” to designate and award AMA PRA Category 1 Credit™ to physicians.
What is the definition of CME?
The AMA and the Council on Medical Education have defined continuing medical education as follows: CME consists of educational activities which serve to maintain, develop, or increase the knowledge, skills and professional performance and relationships that a physician uses to provide services for patients, the public or the profession. The content of CME is the body of knowledge and skills generally recognized and accepted by the profession as within the basic medical sciences, the discipline of clinical medicine and the provision of health care to the public.
What types of activities can be certified for credit?
Non-promotional learning activities certified for credit prior to the activity that are in alignment with the definition of CME as described above. Note: accredited CME providers may certify nonclinical subjects (e.g. office management, patient-physician communications, faculty development) for AMA PRA Category 1 Credit™ as long as they are appropriate to a physician audience and benefit the profession, patient care or public health. CME activities may describe or explain complementary and alternative health care practices. As with any CME activity, these need to include discussion of the existing level of scientific evidence that supports such practices.
What kinds of activities are ineligible for AMA PRA Category 1 Credit™?
Education that advocates specific alternative therapies or teaches how to perform associated procedures, without scientific evidence or general acceptance among the profession that supports their efficacy and safety, cannot be certified for AMA PRA Category 1 Credit™.
CME credit may not be claimed for learning which is incidental to the regular professional activities or practice of a physician, such as learning that occurs from:
  1. Clinical experience
  2. Charity or mission work
  3. Mentoring
  4. Surveying
  5. Serving on a committee, council, task force, board, house of delegates or other professional workgroup
  6. Passing examinations that are not integrated with a certified activity
Who can claim AMA PRA Category 1 Credit™?
Physicians eligible to receive AMA PRA Category 1 Credit™ are individuals who have completed an MD, DO or equivalent medical degree from another country, or who have obtained a Fifth Pathway certificate.

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Application
Will you please give a definition for each type of activity listed on the application?
Live Activity: A live activity is an activity that occurs at a specific time. Participation may be in person or remotely as is the case of teleconferences or live Internet webinars. These may be offered through a variety of delivery mechanisms; examples include, but are not limited to, national, regional or local conferences, workshops, seminars, simulation workshops, structured learning activities presented during a committee meeting and live Internet webinars.

Regularly Scheduled Series (RSS): This is a live activity that is planned to have 1) a series with multiple sessions that 2) occur on an ongoing basis (offered weekly, monthly, or quarterly) and 3) are primarily planned by and presented to the Inova professional staff. Examples of activities that are planned and presented as a regularly scheduled conference are Grand Rounds, Case Conferences, Tumor Boards and M&M Conferences.

Enduring Materials: Home study activities are CME materials that endure over time. These activities are typically delivered via monograph, DVD, CD-ROM and the Internet.

Performance Improvement (PI) CME: PI CME is a certified CME activity in which an accredited CME provider structures a long-term three-stage process by which a physician or group of physicians learn about specific performance measures, assess their practice using the selected performance measures, implement interventions to improve performance related to these measures over a useful interval of time and then reassess their practice using the same performance measures. A PI CME activity may address any facet (structure, process or outcome) of a physician’s practice with direct implications for patient care.
 
How do I fill out the accreditation application?
The application is available on-line and consists of several pages that may be saved one page at a time. You may return at a later date to edit the application and add information. Please make sure you save the application as you go along to ensure sure you do not lose any information. Note that our office will not receive a copy of the application until you press the final submit button.
What information do I need in order to complete the application? Is a sample application available?
Yes, sample applications are available. The online tool kits will also facilitate the collection of pertinent information needed for the application.
When is the application due?
A minimum of 90 days prior to the activity.
How does the review and approval process of applications work?
Once the accreditation application is submitted, it is vetted for accuracy and completeness by the OCME. When this process is concluded, the application, on a per activity basis, is sent electronically to the Department Chairperson for review. Once approved by the Department, the CME Director will conduct a final review. If your activity is granted approval, you will receive an email that outlines the next steps for the proper execution of your activity.
What if my program is not finalized when I apply for credit; what do I do about the faculty disclosures?
All persons involved in the planning of the CME activity (including course directors, planners, speakers, and committee members) must complete the OCME conflict of interest (COI) disclosure form. Disclosures are due from course directors, planners and committee members before the application can be reviewed and credit can be awarded. Disclosures from speakers may be submitted at a later date (but no later than four weeks prior to the start of the activity) as the program and faculty are confirmed. If you envision any problems meeting this deadline, please contact our office.

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Educational Planning and Content Development
What do you mean by gap analysis?
In alignment with the ACCME criteria, CME activities sponsored by the OCME must address educational needs defined by at least one professional practice gap. A practice gap is defined as the difference between current and optimal practice. This gap can be expressed as the difference between “What Is” and “What Should Be”: “What Is” - The healthcare professional's current knowledge, competence and performance skills (current patient care) "What Should Be” - Established standards and criteria that must be achieved to promote the highest quality clinical performance and optimal patient outcomes (optimal/ideal patient care).
What is a needs assessment?
An effective needs assessment will identify why the professional practice gap(s) exist and whether they are based on a lack of knowledge or competence, or due to sub-optimal physician behavior (did the physician do something wrong or fail to do something?). Part of the needs assessment is also to summarize the data used to identify the gaps listed above and indicate the sources used. Note that at least two different sources must be used, such as patient care indicators; quality assurance data; scientific evidence from the literature; opinion from clinical or scientific experts; observed data from local or national databases; and/or surveys from past participants or prospective learners. Whenever possible, quality improvement data should be included as a component of the needs assessment.
How do I write learning objectives that are measurable?
Learning objectives for this activity should be SMART goals that enable you and your faculty to take the learner from the identified need to the desired result. In addition, learning objectives must be measurable and written from the perspective of what you expect the learner to do in the practice setting with the information you are teaching. As such, objectives should contain action verbs and criteria that help activity planners evaluate whether the gap(s) was/were closed (e.g., whether the activity helped increase competence, improve physician behavior and/or improve patient outcomes). Verbs that are commonly used but should be avoided include: know, learn, understand and appreciate.
What do you mean by expected outcome of the activity?
All CME activities should strive to increase competence, improve physician behavior and/or patient outcomes. Thus, the major reason for planning your CME activity should be to close the gap(s) you have identified. Note that while increased knowledge is an acceptable need for the activity, it is not considered by the current accreditation system to be a sufficient outcome. At a minimum, the goal of the activity should be improved competence.

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Joint Providership
Do you offer joint providership opportunities?
Yes. However, all entities interested in joint providership are vetted by the CME office for eligibility and are required to contact the CME Office first in order for us to determine eligibility in agreement with the ACCME policy on joint providership. Also, note that Inova OCME generally does not participate in any joint providership, regardless of the entity’s organizational structure, unless the lead faculty member has an Inova affiliation.
Does the ACCME have special rules regarding Joint Providerships?
Yes, click here for more information.
Our company is a commercial interest as defined by the ACCME, can we still be a joint provider?
No, a commercial interest is not eligible for joint providership.
What is the difference between directly sponsored and jointly provided?
A directly sponsored activity is one that is planned, implemented and evaluated by Inova OCME as the accredited provider. These are courses that are presented by Inova, with no formal involvement from outside organizations. The majority of activities accredited by Inova fall under this category. In contrast, a joint providership activity is one that is planned, implemented and evaluated by the Inova OCME and another non-accredited entity.

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Commercial Support
What is considered commercial vs. non-commercial support of CME activities?
Commercial support is any funding, direct or in-kind, that is given to a course from a commercial interest. The ACCME’s definition of a commercial interest is any entity producing, marketing, re-selling, or distributing health care goods or services consumed by, or used on, patients (i.e. pharmaceutical companies and medical device manufacturers). Non-commercial support is funding from any organization, foundation, or individual who does not produce, market, re-sell, or distribute health care goods or services consumed be, or used on, patients (i.e. NIH, non-profit foundations, etc.). Both commercial and non-commercial support can be given in two ways: direct and in-kind. Direct: A financial donation in the form of an educational grant; monetary donation. In-Kind: The use of donated equipment, supplies, space, specimen, or services. For durable equipment, this includes the use of equipment that is to be returned after the completion of the course.
Where can I find the ACCME Standards for Commercial Support?
What is a Letter of Agreement (LOA) and who signs them?
A letter of agreement is required for all educational grants and must be completed and signed by both the accredited provider (Inova) and the commercial interest providing the commercial support prior to the start of the activity. Third parties and/or joint providers may also sign the written agreement but may not sign it instead of the accredited provider. Note: all LOAs, once fully executed, must be returned to Inova OCME.
Do we have to use Inova’s Letter of Agreement, or can we use the agreement provided by the grantor?
Either is acceptable. If using an agreement provided by the grantor then the written agreement must be in compliance with the following: Be between the accredited provider (Inova) and the commercial supporter. This means that both the accredited provider and commercial supporter must be listed in the written agreement as the parties entering into the agreement for commercial support Itemizes how the provider (Inova) will use the commercial support in the development and presentation of the CME activity Includes the name of the joint provider or third party that would be receiving and disbursing the funds (if applicable) Specifies the organizational name of the commercial interest(s) that supplied the funds Specifies what funds or in-kind services will be given by the commercial supporter to support the provider’s activity Be signed by both the accredited provider (Inova) and the commercial interest providing the commercial support. Third parties and/or joint providers may also sign the written agreement but may not sign it instead of the accredited provider Be signed by all parties prior to the activity taking place
Are electronic LOAs acceptable?
Yes, electronic signatures are acceptable as evidence that written agreements are signed.
Can a commercial supporter require in the written agreement that unexpended funds be returned to the commercial supporter?
Yes.
Can a commercial supporter ask for an accounting of how their commercial support has been spent?
Yes. It is appropriate for an accounting of how the commercial support will be spent to be included in the written agreement between the provider and the commercial supporter. Most commercial supporters require reconciliation of funds post event.
What is the difference between a supporter and a sponsor?
The sponsor of any Inova accredited CME activity is always Inova Health System. Activities may be jointly provided by Inova and other institutions, providing they meet requirements for Joint Providership. Note: Commercial interests can never be sponsors of a CME activity and use of the word “sponsor” to refer to a commercial interest who provided direct or in-kind donations to an activity is not in compliance with ACCME standards. An appropriate term for any commercial interest, non-commercial interest, individual, foundation, etc. who has given a direct or in-kind donation to an activity is “supporter.”
A company has given all the funding necessary to pay for a course. Since they are the only financial supporter of this activity, can I list them as the sponsor?
No. Inova is always the sponsor of an accredited CME activity. Funders cannot be listed a sponsors, but may be referred to as supporters.
A company gave us commercial support for an activity. Can we offer them complimentary exhibit space as a benefit of their grant support?
No. A company may not be given a complimentary booth, table or any other space to display their products or promote their company as a result of giving an educational grant. Grant support for CME activities must be used to cover the expenses associated with the educational activity. No benefits can be offered along with such support.
What is the proper way to acknowledge commercial supporters in the hand-out materials?
Acknowledgement of commercial support should simply list the company name and may not include any product-specific advertising. “We acknowledge support from the following companies” is one way of doing this.
Do I have to acknowledge my commercial supporters in the hand-out materials?
Yes, in the interest of transparency and in order to be in compliance with the ACCME Standards for Commercial Support, you must acknowledge all commercial support to the audience.
Can a company give both direct and in-kind support to a course?
Yes, they may give an educational grant for a flat, specified amount as well as donate equipment or other supplies (for example, for a laboratory-based course). The Letter of Agreement (LOA) must clearly specify both kinds of support. Separate LOAs for direct and in-kind support may be submitted, or both types may be included on the same agreement.

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Exhibits and Vendors
Are exhibitors allowed at CME activities?
Exhibits are permitted at accredited Inova CME activities; however there are strict policies which must be adhered to in order to maintain compliance with ACCME and Inova Health System regulations. Exhibitor/vendors must abide by the ACCME Standards for Commercial Support. Any actions that are not in accordance with the above stated policy may result in the removal of the exhibit company and its representatives from the conference site, in which case no refund of exhibit fees will be allowed.
Where can I place the exhibitors?
Exhibitors may not share the same space as the accredited activity. This means that exhibit tables may be set up in another room, but not in the conference room itself, even if the activity is not in session. Any/all promotion or discussion of products and/or services must be done in the designated exhibit space (at the booth or in the designated exhibit hall); it may never be done formally or informally in the actual educational space. Examples of educational space include lecture halls, break-out rooms and laboratories.
Company XYZ would like to do a presentation in one of the break-out rooms during the lunch break. They would be willing to pay a fee to do this. Is this allowed?
No. Commercial entities, whether providing a grant or purchasing exhibit space, may not do any promotion in any space used for education, regardless of whether or not they pay a fee. If a space is used for any part of the accredited activity, even if the activity is not in session, it may not be utilized for promotion.
Company XYZ would like to pay for lunch on one of the conference days. Is this permitted?
No. If a commercial supporter would like to give funds to support a course, they may give an educational grant. These grant funds are to be used in the manner in which the providers (conference coordinators) decide. A company may not pay directly for any part of a course (food, audiovisual expenses, room rental, etc). This applies to functions for participants, staff and/or faculty. For example, companies may not pay directly for a faculty dinner that is organized for the faculty of the course.

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Registration
Can I register on-site?
This depends on the course. Many of our courses have a maximum number of participants and at times we are unable to accommodate on-site registrations. Be sure to check the conference website for the latest status information. You may also contact our office.
Which credit card types do you accept?
Visa, Mastercard, American Express, Discover
Can I pay by check?
Yes. In order to pay by check, please make the check payable to Inova Office of CME and mail to:
Inova Office of CME
8110 Gatehouse Road
5th Floor West
Falls Church, VA 22042
Checks must be in US dollars and drawn on a US bank.
How do I charge my registration fee to an Inova cost center?
Please contact our office.
How can I get a copy of my receipt?
Please email us at cme@inova.org and request a copy of your receipt.
Can I get a refund if I cancel my registration?
This depends on the conference. Please check the course website for information on the cancellation policy for that particular course.
I’ve cancelled my registration and requested a refund. When can I expect to receive it?
Refunds will be processed 2-4 weeks after the date of cancellation.

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ICMES
I have never attended an Inova CME event, do I have a profile or should I create one?
https://icmes.inova.org and click on the link "Create one now" in the CME Portal Sign In area.
What if I forgot my password or username?
Use the "Forgot your password" link and enter in your first name, last name, and email address.
I have attended other Inova CME activities. Does this mean that I have a profile?
Yes. Go to https://icmes.inova.org, click “forgot my password” and enter in your name and email. If your profile is in the system and the email address matches what we have on file, your username and password will be emailed to you shortly. The CME office can also assist you with log-in information. Please send an email to cme@inova.org for additional assistance.
Where do I go to claim credit for attending a meeting/activity?
Once logged into ICMES click on “View Available CME Events” on the upper right side of the screen.
How do I claim credit for attending a meeting?
Click on the "View Available CME Events" button. This will pull up a list of events from the past three months that are available for credit. Once you find the event you have attended, click the add credit button to the left of the title.
How long after a meeting can I claim credit for attendance?
Attendees may claim credit up to three months after the event.
here can I view the list of upcoming CME events?
All live activities can be found on the “Upcoming Meetings” tab. This listing will be updated as new events are added to the calendar.
I claimed credit accidentally for a meeting I did not attend, what do I do?
Please send an email to cme@inova.org with your name and which meeting along with the day and time of the meeting and it will be removed from your transcript.
How long will it take for credits to appear in my transcript?
The event will appear on the My Credits page instantly. If it does not, please refresh the page.
I can only see events from the past 3 years on my transcript, where did the rest of my transcript go?
It is still in the ICMES system. If you need a more detailed transcript please contact the CME office at cme@inova.org.
I would like to start a new Regularly Schedule Series (RSS), what is the process?
The first step is to contact the CME office to discuss your goals and objectives. Once you have met/spoken with the OCME, you will complete an application via the My Submissions page. Once the application is approved you will receive a confirmation email through cme@inova.org. The RSS Coordinator will contact you with the next steps for your RSS.
I am planning a one-time event; do I still fill out the same application on ICMES?
Yes, after speaking to the CME office, go to the "My Submissions" tab in order to begin an application.
Where can I find training materials for ICMES?
You can find training tutorials here on the “Tutorials” tab page on ICMES.

Do you have a FAQ that you would like to see added to this page? Then send your question to cme@inova.org

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