The American Board of Internal Medicine (ABIM) announced significant changes to its maintenance of certification (MOC) program, a move that was welcomed by major cardiovascular societies.
Last year, ABIM changed its MOC program from a once-every-10-years program to a more continuous one, which led to complaints from members of the medical community that the board had turned a deaf ear to practicing physicians and failed to develop a relevant program for them.
“ABIM clearly got it wrong,” wrote Richard J. Baron, MD, ABIM’s president and CEO, in a statement. “We launched programs that weren't ready, and we didn't deliver an MOC program that physicians found meaningful. We want to change that.”
ABIM’s board continues to advocate that a more-continuous certification helps internists keep up with the rapidly changing modern medical practice, but it recognizes parts of the new program were not meeting the needs of physicians, Baron said.
Specifically, ABIM is taking the following steps:
- Effective immediately, it is suspending the Practice Assessment, Patient Voice and Patient Safety requirements for at least two years. No internist will have his or her certification status changed for not having completed activities in these areas for at least the next two years. Diplomates who are not certified but have satisfied all requirements for MOC except for the Practice Assessment requirement will be issued a new certificate this year.
- Within the next six months, ABIM will change the language used to publicly report a diplomate's MOC status on its website from “meeting MOC requirements” to “participating in MOC.”
- ABIM is updating the Internal Medicine MOC exam. The update will focus on making the exam more reflective of what physicians in practice are doing. Changes will be incorporated beginning fall 2015, with more subspecialties to follow.
- MOC enrollment fees will remain at or below the 2014 levels through at least 2017.
- By the end of 2015, ABIM will assure new and more flexible ways for internists to demonstrate self-assessment of medical knowledge by recognizing most forms of Accreditation Council for Continuing Medical Education-approved programs.
“ABIM is changing the way it does its work so that it is guided by, and integrated fully with, the medical community that created it,” Baron wrote. “However, I know that actions will speak louder than words. Therefore, ABIM will work with medical societies and directly with diplomates to seek input regarding the MOC program through meetings, webinars, forums, online communications channels, surveys and more.”
Cardiovascular organizations, such as the American College of Cardiology (ACC) and the Society for Cardiovascular Angiography and Interventions (SCAI), praised ABIM for making the changes.
In a press release, Patrick T. O’Gara, MD, president of the ACC, said, “Last year’s significant changes to the program generated legitimate criticism and sparked heated discussions—including among members of the cardiovascular community. The changes announced today are encouraging, and the ABIM should be recognized for listening to physicians and specialty societies, including the ACC.”
SCAI leadership added that the changes didn’t address all of the group’s concerns, though. The society wants ABIM to require just one recertification exam in the physician’s primary specialty or subspecialty, allowing interventionalists to stay current only with the interventional cardiology board exams.
“These significant steps forward represent clear progress in the effort to improve the MOC process,” said Charles E. Chambers, MD, SCAI president, in a press release. He called the development encouraging, but indicated that SCAI would continue to press for revisions.