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    MOC online petition swells to more than 10,000 signatures

    Physician-led petition protests additional time and money of new ABIM requirements

    More than 10,000 physicians have signed an online petition demanding that the American Board of Internal Medicine (ABIM) repeal recent changes to its Maintenance of Certification (MOC) process that petitioners say could cost physicians more time and money.

    The petition was started March 10 by Paul Teirstein, MD, chief of cardiology and director of interventional cardiology of the Scripps Clinic in La Jolla, California. It argues that recertification and testing once per decade is sufficient. “MOC activities are complex, have questionable value, and detract from more worthwhile pursuits, including patient care and other educational activities, i.e. continuing medical education,” the petition states.

    Richard J. Baron, MD, MACP, president and chief executive officer of ABIM, says that the petition raises important issues about the relevance, cost, and time commitment to MOC programs. “We hear from many diplomates who believe lifetime certificates are unfair, and we hear from those who hold lifetime certificates who believe they should not have to do anything in the ABIM MOC program,” Baron says. “Meanwhile, large numbers of internists have chosen to use the new MOC requirements to demonstrate to their peers and their patients that they are keeping up and engaged in ongoing assessment.”

    New MOC requirements instated this year say physicians have until April 30 to indicate which certifications they want to maintain, which they can do on the ABIM’s website.  Those who aren’t enrolled in MOC programs will be publically reported as “certified, not meeting MOC requirements.” Physicians will now have to fulfill MOC requirements every two years, and other requirements every five years. They will also have to continue testing and recertification every 10 years.

    ABIM leaders have said that due to the increasing changes in the medical field, along with calls for more transparency and accountability from consumer advocacy groups, physicians need more periodic interactions with the board. MOC requirements can affect physicians’ status with hospitals and insurers, according to the American Board of Medical Specialties (ABMS). ABIM, one of 24 specialty boards under ABMS, certifies more than 200,000 physicians.

    Baron says that avenues to complete MOC requirements could be improved, and that the board takes feedback seriously. “As the requisite knowledge, skills and attitudes evolve, so must our program and our requirements. While we recognize that the program is not perfect, an every-ten-year process is not sufficient to attest that our certified physicians are keeping up,” he says.




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