The American Medical Association House of Delegates resoundingly affirmed its support of the AMA's new physician accreditation program last week.
"If we don't do it, someone else will," was the refrain of several speakers who favored immediate implementation of the program after an Illinois delegate proposed a motion calling for further study.
The American Medical Accreditation Program, designed to streamline credentialing and give a seal of approval to physicians who meet quality criteria, was initiated at last year's meeting.
Standards were released last month, and the program is expected to be rolled out soon in Alabama, Massachusetts and New Jersey with several other states to follow.
The AMA has heavily promoted AMAP, citing market demand for physician accountability. While AMA membership will not be required for physicians seeking AMAP accreditation, several AMA members working on the program said they hope it will be an incentive to join. The AMA represents about 300,000 doctors, roughly 40% of the physician population in the U.S.
One delegate said he and colleagues had reservations a year ago, but "our attitude has changed completely. We now (want) rapid implementation."
A Michigan delegate said, "The time has come for this to go on."
Delegates also passed a resolution stating that the National Committee for Quality Assurance, which accredits HMOs, "is not an appropriate organization to determine criteria for physician credentialing."
But it rejected a resolution for the AMA to study the NCQA's effectiveness in promoting physician quality and possibly develop recommendations for replacing the NCQA's role with an AMA-sponsored inspection.
AMA board member William H. Mahood, M.D., told delegates such a measure could jeopardize efforts to work cooperatively with the NCQA.