Recently it was once again confirmed that physicians who complete regular activities to update their medical knowledge through the American Board of Internal Medicine (ABIM) Maintenance of Certification (MOC) program perform better on Healthcare Effectiveness Data and Information Set (HEDIS) measures than those who do not.
The recent analysis, as published in Annals of Internal Medicine, highlights and builds on prior evidence that MOC is associated with better patient care and making a positive difference in the lives of patients.
In the most recent 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.
Physicians who participated in MOC performed better in:
- All three diabetes measures, including A1C hemoglobin testing, LDL testing, and eye exams;
- LDL testing for patients with coronary artery disease; and
- Biennial mammography measures.
”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.”
Gray also noted that, “The value of the ABIM’s Maintenance of Certification program has been questioned by physicians who argue that additional requirements beyond initial certification add unnecessary burden to already overwhelmed physicians without benefiting patients.”
In addition to performing better on important metrics throughout time, physicians who maintain their certification are less likely to be involved in disciplinary actions.
This new research seems to further cement and confirm the idea that physicians who maintain their certification and take continuing medical education (CME) courses are often those who are best equipped to handle not just the severe medical conditions, but also the routine day to day care of diseases.