“I was really looking forward to this conference/virtual meeting, but I need to cancel my registration because of … [insert COVID/travel restrictions/understaffed/you name it]. Can I watch the recordings instead?”
Sound familiar? For many CME providers, offering enduring material type credits has been a necessity during the seemingly never-ending pandemic. Recording live content and turning it into a self-paced online course, either in its entirety or in part, became a bit easier to accredit last fall for live activities that are already approved by the American Academy of Family Physicians (AAFP). Thanks to the AAFP’s “Repurposed Content” application option, it only takes a few clicks, a reduced fee and an expedited approval time before the enduring material is fully accredited.
To find out more, I reached out to Danielle Atzeni, who is a CPD accreditation strategist for the American Academy of Family Physicians, where she has been for eight years. Danielle serves as the subject matter expert for the AAFP Credit System and as the associate staff executive for the AAFP’s Commission on Continuing Professional Development (COCPD), their credit system’s governing body. She also manages special projects to enhance their system and make it more efficient for staff and customers. She led the launch of the Repurposed Content option.
Beth Ryan Townsend (BRT): For those who aren’t aware, could you give a brief overview of the American Academy of Family Physicians and the AAFP Credit System?
Danielle Atzeni (DA): The American Academy of Family Physicians is the national association of family doctors. It is one of the largest national medical organizations, with 127,600 members in 50 states, Washington, D.C., Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands and Guam, as well as internationally. Our mission is to improve the health of patients, families and communities by serving their needs with professionalism and creativity. In short, the AAFP exists to support family physicians’ efforts and commitment to do what they do best: provide high-quality, cost-effective patient care.
The AAFP Credit System was established as the first credit system for physicians in the United States and remains one of three CME credit system/accreditors (AAFP, AMA/ACCME and AOA) today. The purpose of the AAFP Credit System is to facilitate members’ access to vetted, relevant and high-quality CME that improves the practice of family medicine, healthcare delivery and the health of individuals and populations. The AAFP Credit System, governed by the COCPD, establishes and enforces criteria for educational activities that qualify for Continuing Medical Education (CME) credit.
BRT: How does the AAFP Credit System differentiate from other accrediting organizations?
DA: As a national medical specialty society for family physicians, the AAFP Credit System’s primary focus is on vetting educational activities designed for family physician learners, though AAFP credit is also of value to other various healthcare professionals.
While some accreditors offer organization-level accreditation, the AAFP Credit System assesses the quality of individual activities, to which credit is directly awarded. CME provider organizations submit activities on an individual basis directly to the AAFP for credit.
BRT: Can you tell us about the Repurposed Content application option and why the AAFP Credit System began offering it?
DA: While the shift in how education is delivered was expedited by the pandemic, Credit System CME provider organizations had been asking for a better solution to offer the same education in different formats for some time. We acknowledged the time and financial barriers the previous process had on CME providers who were looking to expand their education’s reach. We take feedback from our CME provider organizations very seriously and worked diligently to operationalize a desirable solution, which resulted in a new, streamlined technology feature that launched in October 2021. This solution also allows members who are unable to attend live activities to access an easily identified, related recorded version.
Repurposed content is an option available to CME provider organizations with AAFP approved live (in-person or streamed online) activities who wish to repurpose some or all elements of the educational content into an enduring format for a flat fee and can be done with several clicks of a button. The technological solution and flat fee replaced the previous manual process and separate, full application fee. This has also resulted in a streamlined review process by staff for repurposed applications.
BRT: What is the difference between repurposed content, blended learning and reinforced learning?
DA: The Credit System has defined the following terms to help differentiate between each:
Repurposed content: Reuses all or some elements of an existing educational activity to expand that content’s reach. Repurposed content is typically transformed into a new format and only includes educational content from the original activity. For example, recording a live activity and making it available as an enduring activity to a different audience.
Blended learning: A single educational activity designed for the same learner(s) that is delivered via multiple formats. Blended learning activities are delivered in two or more of the following formats:
- Enduring Materials
- Medical Journals
- Performance Improvement
- Point of Care
- Repurposed content may be included in a blended learning activity if the intent is to reinforce learning for the original learners
Reinforced learning: A blended learning activity where repurposed content may be included with the intent of reinforcing learning for the original learners of an educational activity. For example, a session within a live, three-day webinar conference takes place in real time, and the recording of that session is then offered as a playback option to primarily benefit the original learners.
BRT: The COVID-19 pandemic’s impact on the world and CME community was vast and relentless. What other steps has the AAFP Credit System taken to help CME providers, and ultimately clinicians, during these challenging times?
DA: Along with the rest of the CME community, we have had to evolve to continue to meet the needs of CME providers organizations, AAFP members and learners. In August 2020, we launched a completely redesigned technology platform that streamlined the CME credit application process. We also offered flexibility with canceled and rescheduled CME activities to ensure CME provider organizations were not penalized for aspects out of their control and produced resources to support CME providers in producing online education.
The AAFP and the AAFP Credit System routinely engage in customer (AAFP member and CME provider organizations) usability testing on various products and platforms to ensure we are consistently obtaining feedback and making improvements as needed. For example, AAFP recently updated our search feature, which improved how approved CME activities display to learners.
Additionally, to support the increase in enduring material activities, the AAFP Credit System launched revised pricing in 2021, which decreased the prices of enduring material activities and aligned it with the blended learning price structure to try and make those formats more affordable.
In 2021, in a desire to be responsive to members’ needs while maintaining the organization’s continued support for lifelong learning, the AAFP simplified its CME requirements for membership by eliminating the live CME requirement.
The AAFP Credit System continues evolve and remains committed to working with CME provider organizations to offer flexibility as needed in this ever-changing environment.
BRT: My organization, Continuing Education Company, Inc. (CEC), has accredited our live programs through the AAFP Credit System for many years. We now also use the Repurposed Content application. We have found the application and review process easy and quick; our learners appreciate the flexibility this additional option provides. Do you find other organizations are benefitting from this new option?
DA: We have received positive feedback since the launch of repurposed content. Customers have been very appreciative of the significantly reduced fee for a repurposed credit application compared to a full enduring application and the use of the streamlined technology solution. Whenever we receive questions about how to apply for recorded versions of previously approved live activities, we emphasize the repurposed content as an option. We continue to look at ways to expand and enhance what repurposed content can offer.
BRT: I realize it is still relatively new, but how do the Repurposed Content applications compare to the live, enduring materials, performance improvement, blended learning, etc., activity types?
DA: In terms of the actual application, repurposed content applications are typically more straightforward to submit than other types since most of the fields are pre-populated based on the original, approved live activity.
Regarding units, live and enduring formats continue to be the formats most frequently submitted for CME credit. Repurposed applications are all enduring material formats. While we don’t have enough data yet to support any trends for repurposed content yet, we are excited about the uptake and hope CME providers continue to take advantage of it as an option.
BRT: What resources are available for organizations interested in AAFP Prescribed or Elective credits for Live Activities, as well as enduring Repurposed Content activities?
DA: We have a lot of excellent resources available on our website about the AAFP Credit System in general, the application process, and information specific to each format as well as recorded tutorials to walk CME providers through processes, step by step.
We also have a great team who enjoys chatting with customers directly, so we encourage anyone with questions to contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 800-274-2237 and we would be happy to walk you through the process.
BRT: Is there anything else you would like the Alliance community to know about the AAFP?
DA: We are constantly prioritizing enhancements to our system to improve CME provider organization experience and to ensure we are continuously evolving. As mentioned earlier, we genuinely take the feedback we receive to heart. It’s important to us that our CME providers feel heard and that the service we are offering is of value.
If anyone has feedback on repurposed content specifically, or with any piece of the credit application process, please reach out to us as we do make enhancements based on the feedback we receive.