Alternatives to MOC? Here’s What Some Pennsylvania Physicians Are Proposing

The movement to fix Maintenance of Certification (MOC) is gaining considerable steam both in Pennsylvania and the nation.

The Pennsylvania Medical Society (PAMED) has heard from many physicians who feel that the MOC process is punitive and causes unnecessary administrative burdens and expense. Pennsylvania physicians have spoken out about MOC at events like regional town hall meetings and a PAMED-hosted MOC summit.

Further, scientific studies—including a Journal of the American Medical Association study focused on outcomes for Medicare beneficiaries—haven’t been able to prove that the MOC requirement has led to higher-quality, more efficient care.

It’s clear there’s a problem. The real challenge is finding solutions.

One proposed solution will be discussed at the House of Delegates meeting on Oct. 24-25, 2015. The House, consisting of approximately 250 voting delegates, sets PAMED policy via resolutions and reports.

In a resolution introduced by rheumatologist Mark A. Lopatin, MD, on behalf of the Montgomery County Medical Society, the following is proposed:

  1. That PAMED recognize certification by the National Board of Physicians and Surgeons (NBPAS) as equal to MOC and recertification by the American Board of Medical Specialties (ABMS) and all its respective specialty boards
  2. That PAMED make public this position to insurance companies, hospitals, and on its website
  3. That PAMED propose and promote this resolution to the AMA for its consideration at its next meeting

NBPAS is a grassroots organization created by academic physician leaders. It seeks to provide a viable alternative for continual board certification outside of the ABMS for most specialties.

“Lifelong learning is innate to our profession,” says Dr. Lopatin. “I would be happy to spend the time, energy, and money on a process that I felt was meaningful. The current system is not.”

Dr. Lopatin knows that physicians and other members of the health care team spend time “around the watercooler” discussing challenges and frustrations, and there’s nothing wrong with that. However, “the watercooler isn’t the way to effect change,” he says. The Virtual Reference Committee is one way you can effect change—we hope you’ll weigh in on the issues that matter to you!

Current PAMED Policy on MOC & More Resources

PAMED does have an action plan in place to address physician concerns with MOC. On Aug. 12, 2015, PAMED’s Board of Trustees outlined its next steps, including:

  • Draft a resolution to be presented at the American Medical Association (AMA) November meeting calling on the AMA to only support recertification processes that meet the 20 existing AMA MOC principles and oppose those that don’t.
  • Explore reaching out to the Liaison Committee for Specialty Boards (LCSB), an organization sponsored by ABMS and AMA/CME.
  • Explore non-AMA alternatives to board certification, such as the National Board of Physicians and Surgeons (NBPAS)

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