While arguing that board certification is a tool to regain patient trust, the American Board of Internal Medicine (ABIM) defended its own credibility with its member physicians while outlining testing options to provide internists with greater flexibility.
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Starting in 2018, internists can choose to participate in two-year assessments, a move officials say will provide physicians with a “more flexible, lower-stakes” option for maintenance of certification (MOC).
The move is an effort by ABIM to blunt criticism of MOC from physicians who say the program is burdensome and does not reflect the knowledge used in practice daily. It was developed as part of a multi-year effort to gather feedback from thousands of internists on how the program can be improved, said Marianne M. Green, MD, a member of the ABIM board of directors and senior associate dean for Medical Education at the Feinberg School of Medicine at Northwestern University.
“We are no longer this top-down organization,” she said during a presentation at the American College of Physicians (ACP) conference in San Diego. “ABIM is changed. With the collaborative efforts of people like you, we can be an organization where certification means something.”
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ABIM officials argued that in today’s uncertain world, professional certification is vital to establishing trust. They pointed to studies indicating patients do not trust their doctors as much as they used to and often rely on “fake news” confirming inaccurate misconceptions. Richard Baron, MD, ABIM’s president and chief executive officer, said physicians grapple with “the tenacity and power of wildly inaccurate information” every day in their practices, and that board certification offers a defense.
“I don’t think we can assume as individuals or as a profession that deference and trust is a given for doctors,” Baron said. “I think we all have to think about how trust is built in the new world. ABIM has been thinking a lot about this.”