Dear ASCO member: Last year, the American Board of Internal Medicine (ABIM) released a new process for maintenance of certification (MOC) that many physicians felt was onerous and lacked relevance to how physicians in practice learn today. In response, ASCO and our sister professional societies began a dialogue with ABIM to let them know our concerns; concerns that yesterday ABIM publicly acknowledged. You may have already been informed that effective immediately, ABIM is suspending the Practice Assessment, Patient Voice, and Patient Safety requirements for at least two years.
This news comes as a welcome announcement to us and to all our members who were facing these proposed changes. ASCO and its leaders have been working on this issue and expressing concern consistently for months. We spoke out, you spoke out, and ABIM listened. As your professional society, we are here to help drive changes that help our members and improve patient care. In the meantime, the key ABIM information you need to know now is below. In the coming months, we will continue to work with the ABIM leadership as it institutes these and other changes—and we will be sure to keep you, our members, informed.
Steps the ABIM is taking:
- Effective immediately, ABIM is suspending the Practice Assessment, Patient Voice and Patient Safety requirements for at least two years. This means that 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 currently not certified, but who have satisfied all requirements for MOC except for the Practice Assessment requirement, will be issued a new certificate this year without being required to submit practice improvement activities. We will clarify with ABIM whether oncologists whose certification has not yet expired can renew their certification for the full ten-year term without completing practice improvement activities during the time when such activities are suspended by ABIM.
- 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.” This is in response to the complaints put forth by ASCO and other specialty societies that the prior wording implied that the physician was delinquent in some manner.
- 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, with any changes to be incorporated beginning fall 2015, with more subspecialties including oncology 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 (ACCME)-approved CME. ASCO believes that his is a highly significant change as it acknowledges that most oncologists actively seek continuing educations through high quality, ACCME-approved CME events such as ASCO’s Annual Meeting and Symposiums, and eliminates the need of a duplicative continuing education process.
For more information about these changes, please visit ABIM’s FAQ.
ABIM is also asking about your vision for internal medicine, the MOC program, and your opinions about what it means to be a doctor today. They have also created “Transforming ABIM”, a Google+ Community that you can join to ask questions and share ideas, and a blog.
ASCO intends to work collaboratively with ABIM to develop a better system that reassures the public that their physician meets the highest professional standards as determined by their peers and that creates a designation of Board Certification that we are all proud to maintain.
Peter Paul Yu, MD