PAMED, Member Physician Advocacy Key in ABIM Decision to Decouple Board Certification from MOC Enrollment

The American Board of Internal Medicine (ABIM) just announced another step in working to make the Maintenance of Certification (MOC) process better for physicians. It is reversing its policy requiring physicians who have passed the initial Certification exam in 2014 or later to have enrolled in the MOC process in order to be listed as board certified. Effective immediately, physicians who are meeting all other program requirements will not lose certification simply for failure to enroll in MOC.

Other Recent Major Changes to MOC
This most recent announcement follows on the heels of several other recent major changes to the MOC process, including:

  • Effective Jan. 1, 2016, eliminating the “double jeopardy” requirement to maintain underlying certification in a foundational discipline in order to remain certified in a subspecialty
  • An updated “Application for ABIM MOC Recognition” that provides more opportunities for physicians to earn MOC Part II points for activities with a self-assessment component that have traditionally been designated as CME credits only
  • A suspension for at least two years for MOC Part IV practice improvement modules along with patient safety and patient voice requirements

Initiatives PAMED Has Been Involved in to Improve MOC
For much of the past year, the Pennsylvania Medical Society (PAMED), many of its member physicians that served on a task force, and other stakeholder groups, including affected specialty and subspecialty organizations, have been actively involved in expressing physician concerns about MOC to the ABIM and engaging in initiatives to make the process fairer and less burdensome for physicians.

These initiatives included:

  • On Dec. 2, 2014, PAMED hosted a well-attended meeting of state medical societies in Philadelphia to generate interest in joint action. Also in December, PAMED held the first of several meetings with Rich Baron, MD, CEO of the ABIM, to seek reforms of ABIM MOC.
  • On Feb. 3, 2015, possibly as a result of the PAMED initiatives, the ABIM announced that it was suspending its Practice Assessment, Patient Voice, and Patient Safety requirements for at least two years, and updating the Internal Medicine MOC exam.  PAMED has continued to meet with the ABIM since then to seek additional reforms.
  • On March 6, 2015, PAMED held an MOC Summit in Philadelphia that brought together state medical society leaders and several national partner groups to discuss next steps to address physician concerns.
  • PAMED hosted a well-attended meeting of state medical societies at the AMA meeting in Chicago on June 9, 2015, and introduced a resolution at that meeting. While the PAMED resolution was not adopted, it resulted in the adoption of a substitute resolution adding the following to the existing 17 AMA principles regarding Maintenance of Certification:
    • Any assessment tests should be used to guide physicians’ self-directed CME study, and should never be punitive.
    • Specific content-based feedback after any assessment tests should be provided to physicians in a timely manner so physicians know what they got wrong and why, and utilize the information in a beneficial manner.
    • There should be multiple options for how an assessment could be structured to accommodate different learning styles.

PAMED’s efforts are ongoing, and the PAMED board will consider additional action items at its upcoming meeting on August 12 board meeting.

How You Can Get Involved in the Discussion
The ABIM recently sent a call for nominations for those interested in serving on its various boards and committees. In particular, it is seeking internists or subspecialists working in community practices (i.e. not owned by an academic institution) who “stand out for their clinical care, work in innovative patient-care systems and/or their quality improvement expertise.”

“Decisions [on issues affecting physicians, such as MOC] are made by those who show up,” said PAMED Board Chair David Talenti, MD. “We need to be eager to help.”

The nomination deadline is later this summer/early fall. Find out how to apply.