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August 14, 2015

ABIM and ACCME Announce Collaboration in Support of Physician Lifelong Learning

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On August 12, the American Board of Internal Medicine (ABIM) and the Accreditation Council for Continuing Medical Education (ACCME) announced a collaboration to support physicians who are engaged in lifelong learning by enabling them to use those activities to satisfy requirements for ABIM’s Maintenance of Certification (MOC) program.

“This collaboration will expand the options available to physicians to receive MOC credit and will enable continuing medical education (CME) providers to offer more lifelong learning options with MOC credit to internists and subspecialists,” according to a new press release from ACCME and ABIM.  This also means a more streamlined process for accredited CME providers—ABIM will no longer require them to submit applications for activity approval and peer review to ABIM. Instead, accredited CME providers will be able to use one unified shared system to record information about CME and ABIM MOC activities. Importantly, this system will help lower the burden on CME providers who wish to register activities for MOC credit. 

View ABIM's medical knowledge assessment recognition program here

“All accredited CME providers in the ACCME system already use the ACCME Program and Activity Reporting System (PARS) to enter data about each of their CME activities,” ACCME states. “With this collaboration, CME providers will also be able to use PARS to register activities for ABIM MOC. As part of this registration process, providers can attest to compliance with ABIM-specific requirements for the Medical Knowledge Assessment Recognition Program and submit learner data.”

ABIM and ACCME will begin testing the technology later this month, and they expect to have the process open for accredited CME providers that meet standards set by ABIM by the end of 2015. The ACCME will maintain a list of activities that have met ABIM requirements and are registered for MOC credit. ACCME states that this list will be publicly available on their website, “providing a one-stop resource for ABIM diplomates seeking to earn ABIM MOC credits by participating in accredited CME.” Data verifying that diplomates have completed the activity will be communicated through PARS to ABIM.

This collaboration offers additional choices for CME providers and internists without adding any new ACCME requirements. “While ABIM already offers more than 300 medical knowledge options to physicians engaged in MOC, our diplomates have asked for a more streamlined process to enable them to more seamlessly combine their ongoing educational activities with MOC requirements,” said Richard J. Baron MD, President and CEO of ABIM. “By collaborating with ACCME, ABIM will open the door to even more options for physicians engaged in MOC and will allow them to get MOC credit for high-quality CME activities they are already doing.”

Under the new system, diplomates will have the option to pursue CME activities that have been registered for MOC credit, while ACCME providers have the option—but are not required—to offer accredited CME that meets ABIM MOC requirements and to submit activity and learner data through PARS to ABIM, states the announcement. 

Graham McMahon, MD, MMSc, President and CEO of the ACCME stated:

“The ACCME has long supported the goals of MOC and the alignment of accredited CME and MOC. We share a common mission to facilitate the continuing professional development of physicians. We celebrate this collaboration because it will make a real and meaningful difference to physicians and educators who are working every day to improve healthcare in their communities. This collaboration will generate many more opportunities for accredited CME providers to serve as a strategic resource by delivering relevant, effective, independent, practice-based education that counts for MOC. I look forward to working together with ABIM, our community of accredited CME providers, and our community of diplomates to leverage the power of education to drive quality in our medical profession and improve care for the patients we serve."

MOC Update

In another big change, ABIM is reversing its policy requiring physicians who have passed their initial Certification exam in 2014 or later to have enrolled in the MOC process in order to be listed as board certified. Effective immediately, physicians who are meeting all other programmatic requirements will not lose certification simply for failure to enroll in MOC.

The American College of Cardiology wrote that earlier this year, ACC leadership was made aware that ABIM had sent emails to early career cardiologists who had passed the Cardiovascular Disease Certification Exam in 2014. The email informed them of the need to enroll in MOC by March 31, 2015, in order to be publicly reported as certified in Cardiovascular Disease, and also that their certification would remain valid only as long as they were participating in MOC. “Concerned about the implications of this new process, ACC leadership engaged ABIM leaders immediately, encouraging them to level the playing field for all diplomats,” the College wrote. “The current policy reversal that affects all recent ABIM diplomats, not only cardiologists, is a direct result of ACC intervention.”

"By tying together board certification and enrollment in Maintenance of Certification, the American Board of Internal Medicine appeared to devalue the secure examination passed by recently certified physicians, by setting different standards for them compared to those certified in previous years. The ABIM should be commended for recognizing the negative impact of this policy on current and future employment opportunities, particularly for those in the early stages of their careers, and taking the steps necessary to reverse it," said ACC President Kim Allan Williams, Sr., MD, FACC.

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