ABIM Backs Down on Maintenance of Certification

February 3, 2015

Apologizing and responding to its critics, the American Board of Internal Medicine has announced major changes in its new maintenance of certification system. Some are calling it a "reboot."

In recent months, as rheumatologists and other internists grew more vocal in their criticisms of the new maintenance of certification (MOC) process, they often asked the same question: Is the ABIM (American Board of Internal Medicine) even listening?

Today ABIM CEO and President Richard J. Baron MD made it plain that it was. "I have heard you – and ABIM’s Board has heard you." Baron wrote in an email to ABIM diplomates today. "We will continue to listen."

In a candidly worded open apology, Baron said "ABIM clearly got it wrong," in releasing an MOC program that "wasn't ready." He announced the following "substantial changes" to the MOC program, addressing some of the criticisms:

MOC and Me: Tales of an Internal Medicine Physician,

by Georgia L. Newman MD,

Physicians Practice,

February 11, 2014.

-- Effective immediately, ABIM is suspending its practice measure system (Practice Assessment, Patient Voice and Patient Safety) requirements for at least two years.
-- ABIM will change the language about MOC status used on its website from “meeting MOC requirements” to “participating in MOC.”
-- Beginning in fall 2015, the Internal Medicine MOC exam will be updated to be "more reflective of what physicians in practice are doing." Changes for subspecialties will follow.
-- MOC enrollment fees will remain at or below the 2014 levels through at least 2017.
-- By the end of 2015, ABIM will recognize most forms of ACCME-approved Continuing Medical Education.

The letter adds that ABIM will now seek input regarding the MOC program via a number of communication channels from medical societies and directly from diplomates. An FAQ webpage, addressing questions about the changes, promised that ABIM will "reduce the burden on diplomates" and intends to develop a "more relevant and meaningful MOC program."

The announcement sparked a burst of activity on Twitter, mostly spreading the news. But prolific blogger Westby Fisher MD, a cardiac electrophysiologist in Evanston IL who has been an outspoken critic of ABIM, was withholding judgment. "Don't think for a moment we're done," he tweeted. "But progress was made today."