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Doc recertification program focuses on quality improvement


By Andis Robeznieks
Posted: June 5, 2014 - 2:00 pm ET
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The American Board of Medical Specialties' Maintenance of Certification program has come under fire from physicians who consider it onerous, irrelevant and expensive. But an ABMS initiative, called the Portfolio Program, aims to answer such criticisms with a streamlined process that allows physicians to use quality-improvement projects conducted within their organizations to satisfy individual MOC requirements.

The Portfolio Program, which began in 2010 as a project between the family medicine, internal medicine and pediatrics boards and the Mayo Clinic, is now active at 18 of the ABMS' 24 specialty boards. Orthopedic surgeons launched their program in April.

Previously, physicians were able to earn certification or recertification by taking an exam every seven to 10 years. But, with MOC, the 24 ABMS specialty boards have turned the recertification process into a continuous professional development program requiring ongoing learning and assessment.

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Not all doctors are pleased with the change from recertification every seven to 10 years. Some 16,000 internists have attached their names to an online petition calling on the American Board of Internal Medicine to replace their MOC program with a simplified process which doctors would have to complete every 10 years.

As of April 17, the ABMS reports that 3,250 physicians have satisfied some MOC requirements through the Portfolio Program and 529 quality-improvement projects have been completed. Eighteen of the 24 ABMS boards are working with 32 healthcare organizations that have gotten involved. This includes the University of Michigan Health System, based in Ann Arbor, whose projects have involved improving diabetic foot exam rates at University of Michigan family medicine clinics, improving its red blood cell transfusion process, and increasing documentation of obesity in patients seen at primary-care clinics.

The ABMS will be holding a forum June 10-11 in the Chicago suburb of Rosemont, Ill. The forum will allow participating organization to share ideas and experiences. About 140 people are expected to attend.

ABMS spokeswoman Karen Metropulos said the Mayo Clinic was the first organization to participate in the Portfolio Program, starting in 2010. They presented the results to other providers who then approached the ABMS about getting involved. The result has been that physicians select quality-improvement projects that have relevance to their practice, make a positive effect on their patients, and satisfies an MOC requirement.

About the same time Portfolio Program participants will be sharing their success stories, doctors at the American Medical Association’s House of Delegates meeting in Chicago will be calling for reforms to the ABMS system. The AMA’s MOC debate began at last year’s House of Delegates meeting where the program was criticized for being too expensive, too time consuming and having little value.

Metropulos said the ABMS maintains an “evidence library” on its website which shows that MOC and board certification have value.

ABMS spokesman Rich Waters said that, across its 24 member boards, MOC costs average $300 a year per physician and are comparable to what airline pilots, attorneys and other professionals must pay to maintain their credentialed standing. He added that MOC is also measurable and more directed than fulfilling general continuing medical education requirements.

Follow Andis Robeznieks on Twitter: @MHARobeznieks


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