Saturday, February 16, 2019

Grifters Will Always Be Grifters

On 12 Feb 2019, the American Board of Medical Specialties (ABMS) Vision Commission created 25 September 2017, issued its Final Report to the ABMS Board of Directors on its controversial and very lucrative "continuous certification" programs.

Not surprisingly, the self-appointed Commission thumbed its nose at the overwhelming majority (88%) of US physicians who find no value to continuous certification,  and instead relied on testimony of many ABMS Boards, members of the ACGME including the Association of American Medical Colleges, the National Board of Medical Examiners, "psychometricians," ABMS Portfolio Program Sponsors, eight (of 50) state medical associations, five subspecialty societies (Anesthesiology, Family Medicine, Internal Medicine, and Pediatrics), consumer groups like (AARP-funded by UnitedHealthcare, the conflicted Consumer Reports, and the problematic Leapfrog Group). Nowhere was the possibility of ending continuous certification ever discussed or considered.

In the end, this was the conclusion from 17 months of testimony for ABMS Vision Commission:
"The Commission thanks the presenters who came and provided valuable testimony about their perspectives of continuing certification. The information will inform the next steps of the process. What is clear is the majority of the presenters recognize the necessity of lifelong learning. While they appreciate the innovation and engagement of the Boards as changes are made to continuing certification programs, they look forward to seeing how the programs continue to evolve. All are interested in being part of the future of continuous certification."
In other words, grifters will always be grifters.

-Wes

Maintenance of Certification: Do We Have a Certified Crisis in Medicine?

From Paul G. Mathew, MD in Practical Neurology:
Between the growing number of states adopting laws to protect physicians from forced MOC compliance, the increasing number of hospitals/institutions accepting NBPAS as an alternative to ABMS recertification for physician credentialing purposes, and the potential ramifications of a decision in favor of the plaintiffs (practicing physicians) in the ongoing class action lawsuit against the ABIM, practicing physicians everywhere may at some point in the near future witness meaningful reform or possibly an end to forced MOC compliance.
Additional leverage against the forced Maintenance of Certification (MOC) compliance imposed by the American Board of Medical Specialties and their member boards can be achieved by contributing to the legal effort underway (click here).

-Wes

Sunday, February 03, 2019

Evolving Board Certification

From the New England Journal of Medicine and the American Board of Anesthesiology, the MOCA Minute® (Cost $210/yr + 100/yr for subsequent certifications):
The MOCA Minute, a longitudinal assessment program introduced in 2016, enables anesthesiologists to identify their scope of practice and answer 30 practice-relevant multiple-choice questions per calendar quarter to continually assess their knowledge and problem-solving skills (see table). The questions focus on relevant information that physicians should know without having to consult references, so only 60 seconds is allotted for answering each question. After responding, physicians rate their level of confidence in their answer using a three-point scale (very confident, somewhat confident, or unsure). This system helps clarify what physicians know, when they are merely guessing, and where their blind spots lie. When physicians realize they have responded confidently yet incorrectly, they are more likely to engage in further education and retain knowledge. This process creates a data-driven basis for seeking out and completing appropriate CME. Questions answered incorrectly or with low confidence are repeated at varying intervals to maximize reinforcement and retention. After each response, physicians are told whether their answer was correct and are given a critique that includes the key point of the question and offers more information about the topic, literature references, and connections to corresponding CME.

From the American College of Cardiology, come the proposed Collaborative Maintenance Pathway® (CMP) (cost <$500/year):
Under the proposed CMP, the respective SAPs (self-assessment program) are expected to consist of 3 components: 1) a comprehensive didactic review of the entire discipline including written material, videos and slide decks that the learner may access in his/her own style and at his/her own pace; 2) a library of several hundred practice questions presented in a modular format corresponding to the topic area under study; and 3) a set of “performance” questions requiring a passing score, which will be made available on a modular basis when engagement with the learning material has been documented and when CME credits have been granted for the module. The didactic material of the SAP will be divided into 5 modules of approximately equal length, so that yearly assessments will cover approximately 20% of the discipline’s knowledge.

The entire CMP process is expected to provide, in a 5-year cycle, all the CME required for licensure in most states (∼25–30 h per year), all the medical knowledge (Part II) points required for MOC (100 points per 5 years), and a convenient, online assessment activity that will complete the MOC requirements for participating cardiologists (assuming a passing score on the performance questions for each of the annual modules).

It is anticipated that the discounted fee for the SAP component of the CMP will be priced approximately 25% lower than the cost of the current ACCSAP product. Members in good standing of the ACC, SCAI, HRS, and HFSA will all be eligible for the planned discount. ABIM fees will be assessed by the ABIM separately from the SAP component. The entire CMP (ABIM and ACC) process is expected to cost <$500 per year.
Finally, from the American Medical Association / American Board of Medical Specialties "Vision Commission" member and former Executive Vice President of the American College of Physicians:
The response to the MOC controversy has varied across the physician community from the extremes of acceptance of MOC to outright anger, with the flames of discontent often stoked by blogs and comments on social media. Within this spectrum of responses is a more centrist position, accepting the need for some sort of process that ensures ongoing professional development and competence as medical science evolves, but acknowledging that significant reforms are needed in the current MOC requirements.
Despite the many efforts to "modify," "adapt," "reform," Maintenance of Certification to new models, each of them has three huge flaws.
  1. There is no independent evidence-based proof that "maintaining" our initial board certification improves patient care or safety. Instead, there are now real examples before a federal judge of harm Maintenance of Certification has caused physicians.
  2. All of these programs result in little more than glorified rent-seeking that has proven remarkably lucrative for the ABMS, it's member boards, and physician specialty societies. Each proposed program fails to mention how testing data are shared with third parties, including (but not limited to) insurance companies and group purchase organizations like Premier, Inc. It is troubling that these demonstrated conflicts are never disclosed.
  3. Any computerized educational program that can restrict a physician's right to work based on completion of certain computer tasks is not acceptable to working physicians. This is not what education is about. "Centrists" are willing to accept voluntary, self-directed CME. They are not willing to accept a lifetime of expensive, coerced, directed CME on behalf of unaccountable and undisclosed third parties. Using the threat of loss of credentials and one's ability to work as a cudgel for physician participation not only is immoral and harms morale, it may be illegal and harmful to patients struggling to access their physician.
In summary, forcing physicians to look at more computer or cell phone screens for the financial benefit of medical bureaucrats distracts from what is really important: patient care. This has not changed. As such, Maintenance of Certification (MOC) - in whatever form proposed - must end.

-Wes

P.S.: Please help support the legal fund created by Practicing Physicians of America to combat MOC.