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Often CE activities designed for online delivery last for more than one year. For example, a CE provider offering a web-based course may have the course available to learners for a period of two to three years. CE providers report data on their activities in different ways depending on the requirements of the accreditors. Some accreditors mandate that providers report data on the activity a certain number of days following completion of that activity. Other accreditors ask that providers send data on their activities on an annual basis. Several accreditors and providers have shown a willingness to report data more frequently than required by the accreditation cycle.

This poses some problems to the system receiving and compiling the data across accreditation systems. For activities spanning multiple years, and for activities being reported on prior to the accreditors' required deadline, the CE provider would report data on the same activity multiple times. The system receiving this data would flag that course as a duplicate and require human intervention to verify the accuracy of the data transmission. In addition, it may not be clear to the receiving system whether the data received is a delta or is cumulative, particularly if reporting periods overlap.

Take for example a fictional CE provider, the Reallygood School of Medicine (RSM). RSM offers an online course on ER/LA opioids entitled "ER/LA Opioids - What Prescribers Need to Know." RSM received funding form the RPC and has an RPC identifier for this activity: 11111.  The course began March 1, 2013 and continues through Feb 28, 2015. RSM is accredited by the ACCME and the ANCC.

Here is a quarterly breakdown, with running subtotals, of their participants.

Month/yearParticipants for the quarterCumulative Subtotal
Jan-Mar 20132525
Apr-Jun 20132550
Jul-Sep 20132575
Oct-Dec 201325100
Jan-Mar 201425125
Apr-Jun 201425150
Jul-Sep 201425175
Oct-Dec 201425200
Jan-Mar 201525225

 

They report data as follows:

Reporting periodDate reportedNumber of participants reported
July 1, 2012 - June 30, 2013March 30, 201450
July 1, 2013 - December 31, 2013March 30, 201450
July 1, 2013 - June 30, 2014March 30, 2015100
July 1, 2014 - December 31, 2014March 30, 201550
July 1, 2014 - June 30, 2015March 30, 201675

Periods of overlap are shown in colored text (blue is one overlap period and purple another).

When the RPC system receives RSM data from its accreditors, it must determine two things:

1)  that the course titled "ER/LA Opioids - What Prescribers Need to Know" with the RPC id of 11111 offered in 2013 is the same course as the one with an identical title and identifier offered in 2014 and 2015.

2)  Whether the data on participants is added to or replacing existing data.

In order to determine point 2, the RPC system would examine the reporting start and end dates. If overlap is found, the more complete data set (ie reporting period July 1, 2013 - June 30, 2014) would replace the less complete data set (ie reporting period July 1, 2013 - Dec 31, 2013). 

RECOMMENDATION

We recommend adding an ActivityStatus element with values of complete and incomplete to help the RPC system reconcile multiyear courses and overlapping data sets. The RPC's processes could be enhanced as follows:

  • When the RPC system receives data for a course for which they already have data (as determined by examining title, id, and potentially other fields), they examine reporting start and end dates to see if there is overlap. 

    • IF THERE IS NO OVERLAP the system looks to see if the previous data indicated that the activity was incomplete. 
      • IF THE ACTIVITY WAS PREVIOUSLY MARKED INCOMPLETE the data is added to existing data.
      • IF THE ACTIVITY PREVIOUSLY HAD A STATUS OF COMPLETE, OR IF ACTIVITY STATUS WAS NOT INDICATED, human interaction is required to verify the details before the data is added to existing data.
         
    • IF THERE IS OVERLAP the system looks to see which reporting period is more complete and whether the activity status was previously marked as incomplete.
      • IF THE CURRENT SUBMISSION IS MORE COMPLETE AND THE PREVIOUS SUBMISSION HAD AN ACTIVITY STATUS OF INCOMPLETE, the current submission replaces the less complete submission.
      • IF THE CURRENT SUBMISSION IS NOT MORE COMPLETE, OR IF THE PREVIOUS SUBMISSION HAD AN ACTIVITY STATUS OF COMPLETE OR IF ACTIVITY STATUS WAS OMITTED FROM THE PREVIOUS SUBMISSION, human interaction is required to verify the details and add the data that is appropriate to add.
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