Wednesday, June 13, 2018

More Changes Are Coming to MOC!

Today in Medscape, we learn that even more changes are coming to MOC.

The simple answer to the "will physicians get relief" is, of course, no.

Here's the comment I left, just in case it does not get published, that explains why they won't get relief from the changes proposed:
This entire charade - ALL of MOC - is NOT about physician's continuing education, but about using our Board certification and re-certification status/scores/demographics/SSN, etc - in other words, our DATA - as a pseudo-"quality" indicator for Big Business. Big Business includes Blue Cross/Blue Shield and Premier, Inc., the largest group purchase organization for the nation's hospitals. In not mentioning this, Medscape perpetuates the gaslighting of physicians that has occurred for years on a massive scale - (but then, they, too have their corporate conflicts). Physicians have tried to play nice and go with the flow at first, but now the situation is untenable, in large part because the member boards have wound their financial strings around the MOC bicycle spoke so far, they can't unravel it.

Nowhere is there mention of corruption and political activities that have occurred with the member boards, the $2.3 million condo purchased by the ABIM Foundation, the spousal travel, the $1.7 million Golden parachute Christine Cassel MD received from the ABIM when she left to join the National QUALITY Forum.

It's time to end the corruption. But myself and others can't do it alone. We need your help. Please visit our GoFundMe page and learn how you can contribute to pre-litigation investigation and the development of a legal complaint for fraud against the ABIM, the ABIM Foundation, and its leadership and others:

https://www.gofundme.com/practicing-physicians-of-america

Thanks-
Seriously, I can't do this alone.

-Wes

Tuesday, June 12, 2018

Churning Pseudoscience

Recently, two papers published by authors at the American Board of Internal Medicine (ABIM) appeared in the mainstream medical literature that purported to provide evidence to the value of their Maintenance of Certification program.

The first was "Associations Between American Board of Internal Medicine Maintenance of Certification Status on a Set of Healthcare Effectiveness Data and Information Set Process Measures" by Bradley Gray, PhD, Jonathan Vandergrift, MS, Bruce Landon, MD, MBA, James Reschovsky, PhD, and Rebecca Lipner, PhD in the Annals of Internal Medicine. The other was "The American Board of Internal Medicine Maintenance of Certification Examination and State Medical Board Disciplinary Actions: A Population Cohort Study" by Furman McDonald, MD, MPH, Lauren Duhiggt, MPH, Gerald Arnold PhD, MDH, Ruth Hafer, BA, and Rebecca Lipner, PhD published in the Journal of General Internal Medicine.

Both of these studies' senior author was Rebecca Lipner, PhD, a testing psychometrican who currently serves as the Senior Vice President for Assessment and Research at the ABIM earning $435,990 per year. Last year's tax records also disclose Dr. McDonald, ABIM's Senior Vice President "Academic and Medical" earns $419,497 annually for his services. The other author's salaries are not disclosed, but we can imagine their salaries are not zero.

The first study by Gray et al, is a cross-sectional design and used observational data. As such, its results only reflect associations and not definitive indicators of a causal relationship (acknowledged in the limitations section by the authors). The second study by McDonald, et al. is another observational study and cannot determine causality either.

So why are ABIM diplomats funding so many "association" studies? Given the cost of producing these studies, might the ABIM be churning pseudoscience to forward their own agenda rather than forwarding helpful public policy or medical science? Not disclosed in their "Conflict of Interest statements is the fact that ABIM sells our board results and "status" via the American Board of Medical Specialties (ABMS) to others via ABMS Solutions, LLC. As such, these publications serve the organization's undisclosed covert agenda and should be called what it is: very expensive propaganda.

With our current era of the proliferation of predatory journals, it is clear we also have an era of proliferation of predatory publication that supports the needs of our ABMS member boards that is not in their diplomates' best interest as well.

-Wes





Monday, June 11, 2018

Recap: Dr. Wes Goes to 2018 AMA Annual Meeting

It was a rainy day in Chicago.  I elected to take the commuter train downtown to avoid the traffic well before my scheduled presentation for the PA Medical Society at 9AM. After leaving the Ogilvie Train Station, I walked to the cab station to hail a cab to the Hyatt Regency. It was then I saw this Facebook ad at the train station:


Such irony.  There I was, heading to the AMA House of Delegates to speak on this very issue and how it has adversely affected physicians.

"MOC is not about physician education, it's about our data."

-Wes

To view the entire presentation, you can view the live stream of the talk here. (Sorry about the quality, it was my cell phone that was only dropped once...)

Please consider giving generously to our GoFundMe page to begin the process of ending Maintenance of Certification™nationwide.

Tuesday, June 05, 2018

Everybody Knows a Frank

Frank is one of the smartest people in his cardiology division. He's bright, congenial, and capable of citing the latest clinical trial on the best imaging study to detect hibernating myocardium. He loves learning. Frank is the guy you used to confide in the doctors' lounge (that doesn't exist anymore). Others knew what a good guy Frank was too; Frank was nominated to write and edit questions for the nuclear medicine boards. Deep down inside Frank knows the boards are a problem. But he's afraid that if someone were to implicate his medical society as colluding with the boards, he'd see himself as being partially responsible for losing the one scientific meeting he attends each year where he can re-connect with colleagues and maybe learn something new.

At another center, Frank is the Chairman of the Department of Medicine responsible for the day to day workings of a large urban hospital system. He is a highly respected member of the Internal Medicine community, author of 14 books on the principles and practice of  Internal Medicine, and a beloved bedside instructor to generations of internal medicine residents. He also serves as a test-writer for the American Board of Internal Medicine and thinks overall they're a responsible group.  He knows how hard his fellow physicians work at constructing a meaningful continuing education process. As the  President of his local medical society, too, he knows money doesn't just grow on trees. And if people tried to disrupt the status quo, what's the endgame?

Frank on the other side of town serves as an editor to the preeminent hematology-oncology journals and has held multiple leadership positions in his subspecialty's medical society. He is widely respected by his peers, served as a director at the American Board of Internal Medicine (ABIM) and helps write test questions for the ABIM, too. He finds test-writing challenging and believes in the value of continuous testing to maintain a physicians fund of knowledge. He devotes countless hours to this endeavor to assure it is fair and impartial to those who must recertify. Sure there are some challenges, but given all the good people working on this, no one needs to question the integrity of the process.

* * *

The dilemma facing physicians today is that the majority of physicians who work with the ABMS member boards and our subspecialty societies are good, hard-working members of our profession. It is hard to fathom that a very tiny minority are corrupt and have been operating below the radar for years. I have no fantasy that your Frank or mine would approve of this corruption or even be able to believe it. And yet, here we are.

Our own inability to tolerate this complication threatens to paralyze us from cleaning up the corruption in our ranks.

There have always been good people in our professional societies and ABMS member boards. But these colleagues, who value contributing and community involvement, should be engaged in a far different framework. Doctors need community and support and collegial leadership. Returning medicine to a truly non-profit, voluntary, democratic representation of working physicians today rather than the self-selected, profit-churning, elitist employment service that it has become. Alternative structures are already emerging. It is time to be open to new possibilities or to take on the challenge of creating them.

What we face now is not new. There have always been top dogs who operate with impunity in contrast to all of the good causes that they publicly champion. In 2018, with the Harvey Weinstein, Matt Lauer, and Eric Schneiderman hypocrisies, surely we can understand this reality.

Today, physicians' ability to work, receive insurance payments, and willingness to stay in our profession, are threatened by the out-of-control, corrupt, ever-evolving Maintenance of Certification (MOC™) requirements supported by Organized Medicine. It's time to see it for what it is.

We all know a Frank, or several Franks and Francines. They cannot continue to be a shield for the exploitation of practicing physicians. Or a reason to look the other way. We all honor the hours of work it has taken our esteemed colleagues who have participated with the best of intentions over the years, but its time to clean up the corruption in the ABMS member boards and colluding medical subspecialty societies.

Cleaning up the corruption is the first step. Please contribute whatever you can to our effort to do so.

Thanks-

-Wes

Sunday, June 03, 2018

Before You Pay Your $155 to ABIM (or Any Other ABMS Member Board)

This past week, the American Board of Internal Medicine sent this reminder to all ABIM Board-certified diplomates participating in Maintenance of Certification (MOC™) (thanks @jtsaxon for sending this):



Before paying this fee, please take a moment and re-read this classic post from Robert Wachter, MD from 14 August 2012 that he placed on his former industry-sponsored blog, Wachter's World. The post is titled "On Becoming Chair and Why the Boards Matter More Than Ever."

Be sure to read the comments included, all 95 pages of them (or at least a good portion of them). (They have been saved to my server in case Dr. Wachter and his industry companions want to wipe the internet archive, too.)

On 1 August 2013, Robert Wachter, MD received 1355 shares of IPC Hospitalist Company stock. On 2 January 2015, Robert Wachter, MD received another 2186 shares of IPC The Hospitalist Company stock. Some of the fees he was paid were shared with his employer at the time, the University of California, San Francisco, too.

Wachter's World no longer exists because it was pulled from the internet in 2016 because Dr. Wachter's company, IPC Hospitalist Company, had to settle claims filed by a whistleblower and the DOJ for "up-billing" Medicare under the False Claims Act.

You decide.

Do I want to send my money to the ABIM to perpetuate the MOC ruse or send my money to the legal fund at Practicing Physicians of America that was created to end the consumer fraud perpetrated by the ABIM and its co-conspirators?

What "matters more than ever" is your decision.

-Wes




Saturday, June 02, 2018

US Board Certification Survey Results to Be Presented at the June AMA Meeting

The largest independent voluntary survey of US physicians on the topic of US Board Certification (and continuous certification) will be presented at the 2018 Annual Meeting of the AMA House of Delegates at the Hyatt Regency Chicago on June 11, 2018, at 9 AM. The social media-promoted national survey was conducted by Practicing Physicians of America and explores the topics of value, cost, burnout, research methods, physician awareness of conflicts of interest, and the negative consequences physicians have experienced from the process. Physicians from all 50 states and nearly all US territories and subspecialties responded.

Pennsylvania Medical Society is hosting the event and I will be presenting. Given your busy schedules, I look forward to meeting all three of you who can make it.

-Wes

Friday, June 01, 2018

UCSF's Embarrassing Appointment

It seems some people can't help themselves. They have to tow the party line. You scratch my back, I scratch yours.

Imagine Christine Cassel, MD, self-proclaimed "bioethics" queen extraordinaire,  and former President and CEO of the American Board of Medicine (ABIM) and the ABIM Foundation when the Foundation purchased that $2.3 million condominium in December 2007 using ABIM diplomate testing fees, now the recipient of the UCSF Presidential Chair for 2018-2019.

And who recommended her?

Why none other than the "loving" Mr. Piano Man himself, Robert ("Elton John") Wachter, MD, the current Chief of Medicine at UCSF and former Chairman of the Board at ABIM.

While it's hard to make this story up, we should not be surprised. This is how interdependent the halls of academic medicine and the US physician credentialling system have become. Like opportunistic parasites, they feed on each other's narcissism to the embarrassment of their fellow working physicians who don't dare say a thing, lest they lose their job.

I'm not sure I've ever seen a more startling example of the sickening hypocrisy in academic medicine.

My alma mater should be ashamed of itself.

-Wes

PS: Please consider donating to our efforts to expose the deep-seated corruption in the halls of Organized Medicine.

Your Dollars At Work

American Society of Clinical Pathologists' (ASCP) Choosing Wisely® campaign needed nominations yesterday. Here were two of the top nominations made on Twitter:




Both are inspired choices.

Especially since the ABIM Foundation (the creators of the "Choosing Wisely® campaign) was secretly funded from US Physician certification fees.

-Wes

P.S.: Please donate to our GoFundMe campaign to end this corrupt redistribution of our certification fees and please share the following link with your colleagues: https://www.gofundme.com/practicing-physicians-of-america