Maintenance of Certification & Meaningful Use – A Good Thing?

Last week, during a National Press Club event, the American Board of Medical Specialties (ABMS) announced that it would align the maintenance of certification (MOC) process with meaningful use objectives to, “enhance the knowledge, skill and use of health IT by physicians to
improve performance and patient outcomes.”  In a Health Affairs blog post, Dr. Kevin Weiss (CEO & President of the ABMS) and Dr. Sheldon Horowitz (Special Advisory to the President of ABMS) describe the common objectives between the goals of meaningful use and the MOC process which include 6 core competencies MOC is designed to measure: 1) compassionate, appropriate, and effective patient care; 2) medical knowledge; 3) interpersonal & communication skills; 4) professionalism; 5) systems-based practice; and, 6) practiced-based learning and improvement.

Drs. Weiss and Horowitz describe that, “To align MOC with the federal meaningful use criteria, ABMS initially will foster the development of new measurement tools or enhancement of existing activities, starting with the three ABMS primary care Member Boards: the American Board of Family Medicine (ABFM), the American Board of Internal Medicine (ABIM) and the American Board of Pediatrics (ABP).”

The competencies that would be assessed, according to the blog post, could include whether a physician is knowledgeable about how to incorporate evidence-based medicine, clinical decision support, analysis, and reporting into a health IT system.  Other competencies cited as examples include whether the physician is knowledgeable about the use of computerized physician order entry, e-prescribing, medication reconciliation…and other examples include PQRI reporting to the Boards to get credit for MOC and PQRI, use of a registry, and completion of performance improvement modules (PIMs) developed expressly for this purpose.

So – is this a good thing?  What do you think about the plans for ABMS to assess health IT competencies? Will aligning components of the MOC process with meaningful use motivate more physicians to participate in MOC (especially those who do not have time-limited board certification)?   Will this improve patient care and health outcomes?

Do you have any suggestions for ABMS and the Boards as they attempt to align MOC with meaningful use?



This post is the personal opinion of the author and does not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of the American College of Physicians (ACP). ACP does not endorse a specific EHR brand or product and ACP makes no representations, warranties, or assurances as to the accuracy or completeness of the information provided herein.


One response to "Maintenance of Certification & Meaningful Use – A Good Thing?"
  • August 8, 2010
    Yul Ejnes, MD, FACP

    This could be a good thing if it signifies a move towards testing diplomates in a manner consistent with the way that they really practice medicine, which is with a vast number of electronic resources available to them at the touch of a keyboard. Today, I have almost all medical knowledge literally on my lap when I’m in the exam room with a patient. Knowing when to use health IT and how to use it effectively is more important than remembering things. Like many ABIM “grandparents,” for me, the relevance of the secure examination in its current form remains unproven. Testing the competencies that you describe in a “secure” manner could change at least one person’s mind. And if it can be done in a way that reduces redundancy, that’s all the better.

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