More Convenient Options Coming Soon for MOC/CME?

The American Board of Internal Medicine (ABIM) just announced that beginning in 2018, physicians certified in Internal Medicine can choose to take shorter “knowledge check-ins” at the location they choose every two years. The ABIM says it is taking this step because “physicians have asked us for more flexible options that affirm [..] that they are staying current in medical knowledge.” The ten-year assessments will still be offered and ABIM is working on flexible options for subspecialties as we speak.

Dissatisfaction with MOC and CME requirements was reflected in a survey conducted two years ago by the American Board of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation (ABPMR). The goal was to gauge physician attitudes toward the board certification and maintenance process. Of the nearly 1,700 respondents, 80% said the exam was far too broad in scope. “Most questions had nothing to do with what I was doing on a daily basis — it was textbook knowledge; not practical.”

“Most questions had nothing to do with what I was doing on a daily basis — it was textbook knowledge; not practical.”

The majority of respondents said the MOC needed to be less burdensome and less expensive with fewer requirements. Although some said MOC “Keeps me abreast of current developments in the field, the overriding sentiment of survey respondents was that MOC/CME doesn’t improve care or demonstrate proficiency. “Some CME activities keep me up to date on research and treatment. All of the rest… the tests, PIP, etc. take away from patient care and are becoming increasingly burdensome. They do not improve the quality of care nor the quality of my practice.”

If this survey is a microcosm of how most physicians feel about the MOC/CME process, then making it more flexible, and more applicable to daily practice, has been a long time coming. The ABIM says that it chose two-year assessments because it was the “option that offers physicians the most choice, relevance and convenience as they maintain certification— and confidence that they are staying current.” In addition to creating the two-year “Knowledge check-in”, the ABIM loosened some requirements:

  • In addition to a testing center, physicians will now be able to take the tests from a work or personal computer.
  • Testing dates will be increased to make it easier to schedule an assessment.
  • A passing score is not required on every two-year assessment. However, if there are failing grades twice in a row or a longer gap between assessments, additional steps will be required to maintain certification.
  • Considered a transition year to the new process, there will be no consequences for unsuccessful performance on the two-year assessment in 2018.
  • Physicians can still choose to take an assessment every 10 years in a testing center. (ABIM says it is continuing to collaborate with physicians to make this option more reflective of practice.)
  • ABIM is also working to make the two and ten-year assessments open book.

To their credit, and reflecting the opinions expressed in the ABPMR survey, the ABIM says it is also working on “Focusing assessments on a subset of knowledge relevant to practice, versus breadth of knowledge in a certain discipline.”

That’s good news. If society is going to continue to demand that physicians work at the speed of light, maintain knowledge about all new technologies and scientific advances that improve patient care, cope with increased regulation and decreased reimbursements, the very least we can do is make MOC/CME relevant and worth the time.

BoardVitals believes that if you are going to spend time preparing for MOC/CME exams, it had better be efficient and effective. That’s why our medical content is updated daily – to ensure you have the most relevant knowledge possible to pass your exam and meet continuing education requirements. Check us out to see how we can help you get ready for your next assessment.

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Deborah Chiaravalloti is an award-winning writer and former hospital executive. Her insider experience helps healthcare clients launch medical procedures, products including artificial intelligence software and knowledge sharing platforms. Deborah writes websites, blogs, opinion pieces, and marketing strategy for elder care, health care consumerism, revenue cycle management (RCM), and the business of healthcare. Her printed pieces have been published and her radio shows syndicated nationally.

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