ABIM extends practice assessment decision

January 9, 2016

The American Board of Internal Medicine is extending by two years its decision not to require internists to complete several controversial portions of its Maintenance of Certification program in order to keep his or her certification status.

The American Board of Internal Medicine (ABIM) is extending by two years its decision not to require internists to complete several controversial portions of its Maintenance of Certification (MOC) program in order to keep his or her certification status.

The ABIM announced in mid-December that through the end of 2018, physicians will not have their certification status changed if they have not completed activities in the practice assessment, patient voice, or patient safety parts of the certification process. 

In a news release, the board said it based its decision on “feedback from the internal medicine and subspecialty community, as well as ABIM’s commitment to ensuring the MOC program does a better job recognizing meaningful activities physicians are already doing in practice.”

MOC: Doctors strike back

The ABIM’s initial decision to suspend the requirement, made in February of 2015, was for two years.

“We have heard from many stakeholders that it is good for patients when physicians regularly evaluate and improve the quality of their care, but we have learned there are a myriad of ways physicians do this today, and that our MOC program should credit clinically meaningful activities,” Richard Baron, MD, ABIM’s president and chief executive officer, said in the news release. He added that the board “will continue to provide MOC credit for quality improvement activities physicians choose to do” while expanding the number of activities that will be recognized for MOC credit.

Physicians will still be required to pass an examination every 10 years, earn 100 MOC points every five years, and complete some MOC-related activity every two years to keep their board certification.

Next: NBPAS founder speaks out

 

In August of 2015, the ABIM announced it was forming a partnership with the Accreditation Council for Continuing Medical Education to explore additional ways of allowing doctors to have continuing medical education activities count towards MOC requirements.

Certification used to be considered life-long, but that changed in 2000 when an ABIM policy requiring recertification every 10 years went into effect. In 2014, the requirements expanded to include earning accreditation points on a continual basis over the 10 years between taking the recertifying examination. The change sparked strong protests from many physicians, and led to the creation of an alternative certifying organization, the National Board of Physicians and Surgeons (NBPAS).

ABIM: Time to heal thyself

In an e-mail to Medical Economics, NBPAS founder and president Paul Teirstein, MD, called the three elements of the MOC program “onerous and not very helpful to physicians or patients” and  “a waste of a lot of time.”

“Stopping them until 2019 is a good decision. Eliminating them permanently would be a better decision,” Teirstein wrote.

In announcing extension of the decision not to require practice assessment, patient voice and patient safety activities, the ABIM said it is looking at alternative ways of assessing knowledge and potentially replacing the examination with “more frequent, lower stakes assessments,” but currently “the 10-year exam remains our best approach for assessing physicians’ knowledge.”    

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