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New ABIM Survey Indicates Physician Interest in Potential Changes to MOC Assessment


Thousands of physicians expressed their reactions to four assessment innovations and ABIM shared initial survey findings from a representative sample

Philadelphia, PA, April 11, 2016 – The American Board of Internal Medicine (ABIM) announced findings from its recent survey about potential changes to the current Maintenance of Certification (MOC) assessment. All ABIM Board Certified physicians were invited to participate in the survey, and more than 9,200 responded.

Results from the survey, “Improving the MOC Assessment Experience,” were presented to more than 70 leaders of medical societies attending an ABIM meeting on Friday, April 8. This week, the ABIM Board of Directors and Council are considering physician-guided recommendations about options for updating the MOC assessment process as well as a timetable to seek feedback from physicians, launch a pilot, evaluate the pilot and ultimately implement changes. ABIM will share the timetable later this spring.

Insights from the survey and from ongoing conversations with the internal medicine community are helping ABIM understand how physicians view potential assessment innovations, including using open-book assessments; testing out of a full-length high-stakes assessment; at-home or in-office assessments; and shorter, more frequent assessments.

By using a representative sample, ABIM was able to make inferences about the full population of ABIM Board Certified physicians.

Key survey findings from the representative sample (29.4% response rate):

  • 86 percent responded positively to the idea of taking an assessment at home or in their office rather than in a testing center and were comfortable with potential tasks necessary to facilitate secure, remote assessment.
  • 79 percent responded positively to the idea of taking shorter knowledge assessments that would allow them to skip the full-length MOC exam.
  • 76 percent responded positively to the idea of using online resources during an assessment.
  • 56 percent responded positively to the idea of shorter, more frequent knowledge assessments; responses to options regarding the preferred length and frequency of assessments varied widely.
  • 76 percent want maintaining their board certification to signify they are staying current in the knowledge they need to practice.
  • View the complete survey results on the Transforming ABIM site.

“In our efforts to deliver a meaningful, performance-based credential that signifies something important about physicians, the survey results provide invaluable guidance as to what physicians favor in the assessment process,” said Richard J. Baron, MD, President and CEO of ABIM. “These insights will empower our decision making for the future by giving us direct insight into what physicians value as future components of our evolving MOC assessment.”

Dr. Baron added that additional survey analysis will inform new and ongoing engagement efforts, such as:

  • ABIM will evaluate results from a research study, for which hundreds of physicians have signed up, to understand how making a portion of an assessment of medical knowledge “open book” would impact the assessment experience and performance.
  • ABIM is exploring options for remote assessments—taken in one's home or office—that are not only fair and defensible, but also more convenient for physicians.
  • ABIM will solicit feedback from the community on more detailed aspects of new MOC assessment models before launching any new pilots. The current assessment, in the form of a high-stakes exam, produces valid, reliable results and remains in place as the community explores alternatives.

“Opinions from physicians gleaned through the survey will be used to frame future discussions and refine details about potential assessment ideas,” said Richard G. Battaglia, MD, Chief Medical Officer of ABIM. “Results indicate that physicians are interested in exploring all of the ideas presented in the survey. ABIM will continue to engage physicians and societies to explore assessment models that are reflective of practice today.”

ABIM is committed to ongoing communication with physicians through focus groups, one-on-one conversations and quarterly progress reports, in addition to updates and input opportunities through the Transforming ABIM site.

For media inquiries, contact Erin Frantz at press@abim.org.

About ABIM's survey: Improving the MOC Assessment Experience
ABIM invited all diplomates with a valid e-mail address (N=195,867) to complete a brief online survey to understand how various assessment ideas might impact them. We received 9,242 responses from all invited diplomates and a 29 percent response rate from a simple random representative sample, which was sufficient to draw appropriate inferences about the population. The survey was conducted from December 2015 to March 2016. We weighted responses and performed multiple imputations to correct for non-response bias in the representative sample. There were no statistically significant differences in attitudes toward any of the exam ideas or related questions between the sample and population respondents. There were, however, some notable trend differences in attitudes in that the sample was less unsure about shorter, more frequent assessments; slightly more positive toward the 10-year exam and access to external resources during the assessment; generally less negative toward their overall satisfaction with MOC; and less negative toward ABIM's recent community engagement efforts. ABIM continues to analyze the quantitative and qualitative responses from the general population and will release those results later this spring.

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Internists and subspecialists who earn and maintain board certification from the American Board of Internal Medicine (ABIM) differentiate themselves every day through their specialized knowledge and commitment to continual learning in service of their patients. Established as an independent nonprofit more than 80 years ago, ABIM continues to be driven by doctors who want to achieve higher standards for better care in a rapidly changing world. Visit ABIM's blog to learn more and follow ABIM on FacebookTwitter and Instagram. ABIM is a member of the American Board of Medical Specialties.