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Doctors who maintain ABIM Board Certification are more likely to meet important quality metrics throughout their career

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New research indicates that internists who maintained certification after 20 years of practice performed better on HEDIS process of care measures.

Philadelphia, PA, June 12, 2018 – Physicians who complete regular activities to update their medical knowledge through the American Board of Internal Medicine's Maintenance of Certification (MOC) program performed better on Healthcare Effectiveness Data and Information Set (HEDIS) measures than physicians who did not.

Results of a recent analysis, published in Annals of Internal Medicine, build on existing evidence that MOC is associated with better patient care. The recent analysis indicates that physicians participating in MOC continue to make positive differences for their patients.

ABIM researchers explored whether there is an association between physicians' MOC participation—20 years after their initial board certification—and performance on HEDIS measures among general internists who had similar initial certification scores and medical training.

“MOC offers a pathway for physicians to stay current in medical practice through their careers, so we were interested to see if MOC participation had any association with care delivery among mid-career physicians who had similar training and clinical cognitive ability at initial certification,” said lead author Bradley M. Gray, PhD, ABIM Senior Health Services Researcher. “Our findings suggest that MOC is a marker of care quality even after considering physician training and ability, and MOC status is an even more reliable indicator of clinical competence than other online sources patients might review when selecting a physician.”

About the study

Researchers analyzed 1,260 physicians, 786 of whom maintained their certification and 474 did not, and then identified 85,931 Medicare patients to whom these physicians provided primary care. They used Medicare claims data to calculate physician performance scores based on the percentage of these patients that met a set of HEDIS performance standards for diabetes care, mammography screening and heart disease care.

Results indicate that physicians who participate in MOC performed better in:

  • All three diabetes measures, including hemoglobin A1c testing, LDL testing and eye exams
  • LDL testing for patients with coronary heart disease
  • Biennial mammography measures, building on previous research findings that the MOC requirement was associated with increased compliance with mammography screening guidelines

The authors noted that further research could explore how learning associated with participation in the MOC program may have impacted HEDIS scores and whether the trend in improved care applies across other HEDIS measures.

Additional Information

View the research article in Annals of Internal Medicine. (Subscription may be required to access the full article.)

Read more research from ABIM and other organizations about board certification, MOC and physician assessment.

Learn more about the ABIM MOC program, which includes independent assessment options and continuous learning activities that doctors can complete to stay current with medical knowledge.

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

ABIM Board Certified Doctors Make a Difference
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 Facebook and Twitter. ABIM is a member of the American Board of Medical Specialties.