Standards for Substantive Equivalency between CPD/CME Accreditation Systems

International Academy for CPD Accreditation Adopts International Standards for Continuing Professional Development Systems for Medical Doctors and Teams

Global standards promote high-quality education that improves patient care and safety

The International Academy for Continuing Professional Development Accreditation (IACPDA) is pleased to announce the adoption of the Standards for Substantive Equivalency between CPD/CME Accreditation Systems. These are the first Standards to set international guidelines for the accreditation of continuing professional development (CPD) and continuing medical education (CME) of medical doctors and healthcare teams.

The Standards are designed to support improvements in patient care and patient safety by promoting high-quality continuing education for medical doctors and teams across borders. They will be used to determine substantive equivalency between accrediting bodies. Substantive equivalency assures stakeholders—including national authorities, regulatory bodies, doctors and teams, and the public—that accredited education meets consistent, rigorous standards for content validity, educational design, outcomes measures, and independence from commercial influence and bias.

The fields of medicine and science are advancing rapidly and becoming increasingly global. To best serve their patients and perform to the best of their abilities, doctors and teams need easily accessible, relevant, and effective education. Substantive equivalency allows doctors and teams access to accredited education that is recognized by various CPD and CME accreditation systems, reducing the burden of meeting multiple requirements and increasing flexibility, diversity, and choice in education.

The Standards were adopted unanimously by IACPDA members who participated in the Cologne Consensus Conference 2020. Evolving from an original set of substantive equivalency guidelines that have been used for more than two decades as a mechanism of peer review between accrediting bodies, the Standards reflect feedback from the international community of stakeholders.

IACPDA Member Comments: Value and Benefit of New Standards

“The Standards for Substantive Equivalency provide a great opportunity for CME/CPD accreditation systems, especially the newly developed systems, to benchmark their standards and processes and ensure that the quality of educational and professional development activities, developed through those systems, is comparable to that of activities accredited by well-established accreditation systems in the world. This can be considered of special importance for CPD of health professionals who are always expected to build their decisions on best-evidence and best-practices.” Dr. Essam Elsayed Adbelrafaa, Member, IACPDA; Education Supervisor, Accreditation Section – Department of Healthcare Professions (QCHP-AD, formerly) Ministry of Public Health, Qatar

“The current Covid-19 pandemic has provided us with a most impressive example for how globalized science and hence also education have become. This also highlights the need of the medical community for a harmonised concept for planning, delivery, and accreditation of independent and effective CME. The International Academy for CPD Accreditation Standards, as adopted in the Cologne Consensus Conference 2020, serve this need. And in particular in Europe, with its profound diversity in CME requirements, and accreditation practices, they will give guidance to regulators in designing an accreditation system as well as providers in planning and delivery of CME.” Prof. Reinhard Griebenow, IACPDA Member; Chair, ECSF Board, European Cardiology Section Foundation (ECSF), Cologne, Germany

“The International Academy for CPD Accreditation’s Standards on Substantive Equivalency will strengthen the relationships between global accrediting bodies through a system of common values. Many patient populations will benefit as this collaboration brings more learning opportunities to health care professionals and encourages the worldwide sharing of knowledge and best practices.” Dr. Susan D. Moffatt-Bruce, FRCSC, FACS, Chief Executive Officer, Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada

 “COVID-19 has stopped us from meeting each other much but brought us closer together through various virtual means. The world has no boundaries and we share experience on the click of a button. Substantive equivalency is a form of standard setting that helps to ensure we grow and learn from each other together.” Prof. C.S. Lau, Member, IACPDA; President, Hong Kong Academy of Medicine

“Health is borderless. The health professions are borderless. With the Standards for Substantive Equivalency, we build on our shared values, while recognizing and respecting our differences. We strive to advance quality learning that helps health professionals—regardless of where they live or practice—deliver safe, effective, and compassionate care for the patients and communities we all serve.” Graham McMahon, MD, MMSc, Member, IACPDA; President and CEO, Accreditation Council for Continuing Medical Education (ACCME®)

“Just as the fields of medicine and science are rapidly advancing, so too are the fields of lifelong learning and outcomes measurement. The unprecedented adoption of international Standards for accredited continuing education and professional development represents an important advancement that will benefit national authorities, regulatory bodies, health care professionals, and the public they all serve.” Amy Smith, MBA, Member, IACPDA; Director of Accreditation, American Academy of Family Physicians, US

Click here to download a copy of the Standards for Substantive Equivalency between CPD/CME Accreditation Systems.

Organizations that have endorsed the Standards:

  • Accreditation Council for Continuing Medical Education (U.S.)
  • European Board for Accreditation in Cardiology
  • Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada