5 questions to ask when considering CBME software

If you are undertaking an introduction to entrustable professional Activities (EPAs) or workplace based assessments (WBAs) for your MedEd Institution or program, you may find that navigating a smaller group on paper or using a survey tool, plus some excel reporting manageable. But as your introduction accelerates, your reporting needs expand, and you start collecting more and more data, it can quickly become too much to handle without software.  

Selecting a software system to assist with your competency-based medical education (CBME) needs will be a crucial decision for the ease and success of the overall implementation. This will become critical as your efforts ramp up and entrustment or competence decisions become more inclusive in assessments of your learners’ overall progress on competencies and EPAs. A robust software solution is essential to drive your CBME framework. Here are five key questions to consider before signing on the dotted line for a new software solution to meet your CBME needs. 

Key considerations for CBME software

1. What are your reporting needs?

Presenting the volume of data that you are now collecting in an easy-to-understand format for CBME is perhaps even more critical than the collection of the assessment data itself. Carefully review the software’s reporting options by asking: 

  • What analytics are presented? 
  • What data points are available within the reports? 
  • Is the data available in a dashboard that’s easy to review and understand? 
  • Are you able to filter those accordingly for your learner, for your programs, and for your Competence or Entrustment Committee reviews? 

Seek a system that offers interactive and easily filtered reports that allow you to dive into your learner data and show the required data to the right people. Consider the specific requirements of your CBME program, and be cautious to ensure the end results you’ll need to surface in reporting will be available. Ask how these reports will assist in revealing the data necessary to ensure learner entrustability and performance over time. 

2. Who needs to review your CBME data? 

Understanding who will need to access and review your data from assessments aligned with EPAs and competencies is important before you begin to research the right software fit. Here are some things to consider:

  • Do you want your learners to be able to follow their own trajectory and success? 
  • Will you have a committee making entrustment or competence decisions along the way? 
  • Will advisors or mentors need access to the data and reporting? 
  • How will program administrators, deans, and directors need to review the data? 

Having a good sense of what is desired and if there are any restrictions on how that data should be surfaced in reports for each role, will allow you to ask any software vendor about your needs and limitations on permissions early. 

3. What are the customization and scalability offerings? 

As your CBME linked assessments expand and more learners are a part of your competency or entrustment processes, your needs and desires for flexibility in the software will grow. Ask ahead of time:

  • How flexible is the software? 
  • Are there considerations for Clerkship or subject-specific mappings? 
  • Will it adapt to program specific needs? 

Getting the answers to these questions up front can help set you up for success as your needs evolve. Consider the needs at scale. The practical choice for a smaller group of learners may be impossible to maintain with growth.  

4. Does it have a mobile-friendly interface for WBAs and EPA assessments? 

Studies on implementing CBME software have underlined the importance of availability anywhere, anyplace, and anytime and that adoption of CBME requires a learner to be able to complete WBA tasks in the clinical environment. Having reliable access to mobile technology for EPA or WBA completion are important factors to consider in your software choice. You’ll need to ask:

  • What mobile options are available? 
  • Can assessments be completed? 
  • What is the mobile assessment process? 
  • How is the data collected via mobile devices and how can reporting be viewed? 

Consider where and when assessments are likely to take place and how they can be quickly recorded on the fly using mobile devices. 

5. What kind of support will you need internally (both administrative and technical) and what is available from the software vendor? 

Ensuring you have adequate support is an important factor for your software selection. Some questions to ask include: 

  • What are the support offerings of the software company you are exploring? 
  • What is the quality of support and what training options are available? 
  • Are there expectations for your IT team or development resources to consider? 
  • After the software is implemented, what support will you and your program receive from the software vendor? 
  • Will they assist as your program expands and evolves?  

Look for good references who can tell you more about the quality of support and responsiveness of each vendor you evaluate.


Selecting the right software for your CBME needs and ensuring the best fit can be less complex if you ask and consider the five questions above. It’s important to ensure the aspects of data collection and visualization of the data for CBME assessment are considered in your technology choice. Seek out software that supports the data collection of the lower-stakes formative assessments, as well as one that can show the visuals of the data collection and allow your learners, programs, and committees to review and interpret the data for those higher-stakes summative assessment decisions. Thinking through your program’s needs and considering growth over time as well as ensuring the right flexibility and support will set you and the learner up for success. 

Want to learn more about how Acuity CBME offerings can help your school move ahead? Book a demo to have us show you more.