Ensuring physicians' competence--is maintenance of certification the answer?

Department of Medicine, University of California, San Francisco, San Francisco, USA.
New England Journal of Medicine (Impact Factor: 54.42). 12/2012; 367(26):2543-9. DOI: 10.1056/NEJMhpr1211043
Source: PubMed
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    ABSTRACT: In 1990, the American Board of Internal Medicine (ABIM) ended lifelong certification by initiating a 10-year Maintenance of Certification (MOC) program that first took effect in 2000. Despite the importance of this change, there has been limited research examining associations between the MOC requirement and patient outcomes. To measure associations between the original ABIM MOC requirement and outcomes of care. Quasi-experimental comparison between outcomes for Medicare beneficiaries treated in 2001 by 2 groups of ABIM-certified internal medicine physicians (general internists). One group (n = 956), initially certified in 1991, was required to fulfill the MOC program in 2001 (MOC-required) and treated 84 215 beneficiaries in the sample; the other group (n = 974), initially certified in 1989, was grandfathered out of the MOC requirement (MOC-grandfathered) and treated 69 830 similar beneficiaries in the sample. We compared differences in outcomes for the beneficiary cohort treated by the MOC-required general internists before (1999-2000) and after (2002-2005) they were required to complete MOC, using the beneficiary cohort treated by the MOC-grandfathered general internists as the control. Quality measures were ambulatory care-sensitive hospitalizations (ACSHs), measured using prevention quality indicators. Ambulatory care-sensitive hospitalizations are hospitalizations triggered by conditions thought to be potentially preventable through better access to and quality of outpatient care. Other outcomes included health care cost measures (adjusted to 2013 dollars). Annual incidence of ACSHs (per 1000 beneficiaries) increased from the pre-MOC period (37.9 for MOC-required beneficiaries vs 37.0 for MOC-grandfathered beneficiaries) to the post-MOC period (61.8 for MOC-required beneficiaries vs 61.4 for MOC-grandfathered beneficiaries) for both cohorts, as did annual per-beneficiary health care costs (pre-MOC period, $5157 for MOC-required beneficiaries vs $5133 for MOC-grandfathered beneficiaries; post-MOC period, $7633 for MOC-required beneficiaries vs $7793 for MOC-grandfathered beneficiaries). The MOC requirement was not statistically associated with cohort differences in the growth of the annual ACSH rate (per 1000 beneficiaries, 0.1 [95% CI, -1.7 to 1.9]; P = .92), but was associated with a cohort difference in the annual, per-beneficiary cost growth of -$167 (95% CI, -$270.5 to -$63.5; P = .002; 2.5% of overall mean cost). Imposition of the MOC requirement was not associated with a difference in the increase in ACSHs but was associated with a small reduction in the growth differences of costs for a cohort of Medicare beneficiaries.
    JAMA The Journal of the American Medical Association 12/2014; 312(22):2348-57. DOI:10.1001/jama.2014.12716 · 30.39 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: American Board of Internal Medicine (ABIM) initiatives encourage internists with time-unlimited certificates to recertify. However, there are limited data evaluating differences in performance between internists with time-limited or time-unlimited board certification. To determine whether there are differences in primary care quality between physicians holding time-limited or time-unlimited certification. Retrospective analysis of performance data from 1 year (2012-2013) at 4 Veterans Affairs (VA) medical centers. Participants were internists with time-limited (n = 71) or time-unlimited (n = 34) ABIM certification providing primary care to 68,213 patients. Median physician panel size was 610 patients (range, 19-1316), with no differences between groups (P = .90). Ten primary care performance measures: colorectal screening rates; diabetes with glycated hemoglobin (HbA1c level) less than 9.0%; diabetes with blood pressure less than 140/90 mm Hg; diabetes with low-density lipoprotein cholesterol (LDL-C) level less than 100 mg/dL; hypertension with blood pressure less than 140/90 mm Hg; thiazide diuretics used in multidrug hypertensive regimen; atherosclerotic coronary artery disease and LDL-C level less than 100 mg/dL; post-myocardial infarction use of aspirin; post-myocardial infarction use of β-blockers; congestive heart failure (CHF) with use of angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitor. After adjustment for practice site, panel size, years since certification, and clustering by physician, there were no differences in outcomes for patients cared for by internists with time-limited or time-unlimited certification for any performance measure: colorectal screening (odds ratio [OR], 0.95 [95% CI, 0.89-1.01]); diabetes with HbA1c level less than 9.0% (OR, 0.96 [95% CI, 0.74-1.2]); blood pressure control (OR, 0.99 [95% CI, 0.69-1.4]); LDL-C level less than 100 mg/dL (OR, 1.1 [95% CI, 0.79-1.5]); hypertension with blood pressure less than 140/90 mm Hg (OR, 1.0 [95% CI, 0.92-1.2]); thiazide use (OR, 1.0 [95% CI, 0.8-1.3]); atherosclerotic coronary artery disease with LDL-C level less than 100 mg/dL (OR, 1.1 [95% CI, 0.75-1.7]); post-myocardial infarction use of aspirin (OR, 0.98 [95% CI, 0.58-1.68]) or β-blockers (OR, 1.0 [95% CI, 0.57-1.9]); CHF with use of ACE inhibitor (OR, 0.98 [95% CI, 0.61-1.6]). Among internists providing primary care at 4 VA medical centers, there were no significant differences between those with time-limited ABIM certification and those with time-unlimited ABIM certification on 10 primary care performance measures. Additional research to examine the difference in patient outcomes among holders of time-limited and time-unlimited certificates in non-VA and nonacademic settings and the association with other ABIM goals may help clarify the potential benefit of Maintenance of Certification participation.
    JAMA The Journal of the American Medical Association 12/2014; 312(22):2358-63. DOI:10.1001/jama.2014.13992 · 30.39 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: IMPORTANCE Despite general support for the goals of maintenance of certification (MOC), concerns have been raised about its effectiveness, relevance, and value. OBJECTIVE To identify barriers and enabling features associated with MOC and how MOC can be changed to better accomplish its intended purposes. DESIGN, SETTING, AND PARTICIPANTS Grounded theory focus group study of 50 board-certified primary care and subspecialist internal medicine and family medicine physicians in an academic medical center and outlying community sites. EXPOSURES Eleven focus groups. MAIN OUTCOMES AND MEASURES Constant comparative method to analyze transcripts and identify themes related to MOC perceptions and purposes and to construct a model to guide improvement. RESULTS Participants identified misalignments between the espoused purposes of MOC (eg, to promote high-quality care, commitment to the profession, lifelong learning, and the science of quality improvement) and MOC as currently implemented. At present, MOC is perceived by physicians as an inefficient and logistically difficult activity for learning or assessment, often irrelevant to practice, and of little benefit to physicians, patients, or society. To resolve these misalignments, we propose a model that invites increased support from organizations, effectiveness and relevance of learning activities, value to physicians, integration with clinical practice, and coherence across MOC tasks. CONCLUSIONS AND RELEVANCE Physicians view MOC as an unnecessarily complex process that is misaligned with its purposes. Acknowledging and correcting these misalignments will help MOC meet physicians' needs and improve patient care.
    JAMA Internal Medicine 11/2014; 175(1). DOI:10.1001/jamainternmed.2014.5437 · 13.25 Impact Factor