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ABMS and NQF Convene Summit on Enhancing Physician Performance: Stakeholders Agree Board Certification Should Play Bigger Role in Healthcare Quality Improvement

WASHINGTON, Aug. 17 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- While the healthcare reform debate heated up on Capitol Hill, key stakeholders meeting across town agreed that efforts to improve healthcare quality must be stepped up significantly, and that board certification must play an enhanced role in leading the way. "Enhancing Physician Performance: Board Certification in a Quality-Driven World," a two-day summit and call to action convened by the American Board of Medical Specialties (ABMS) and the National Quality Forum (NQF), featured a variety of participants, from physician leaders and consumer advocates to insurance executives and government representatives.


Speakers noted that in the 10 years since the release of the Institute of Medicine's landmark report, "To Err is Human," improvements in the quality of healthcare have been slow and need to be accelerated. They insisted that more can be done, including making healthcare more patient-centered, making physician performance more transparent, increasing efforts to improve preventive medicine, reducing inappropriate medical care, and aligning the work of the many healthcare entities engaged in quality improvement (QI). They envisioned ABMS -- the not-for-profit organization that oversees U.S. physician certification of more than 750,000 physicians through its 24 Member Boards -- playing a bigger role in quality initiatives.

'It's significant that stakeholders representing varied and different perspectives within the healthcare policy spectrum came together to align their strategies for quality improvement," said Kevin B. Weiss, MD, ABMS president and CEO. "The ideas generated at the Summit suggest an enhanced role for certification boards in order to move the process forward. We've got a lot of work to do, but all agreed that ABMS Maintenance of Certification(R) (ABMS MOC(R)) is a major step in the right direction. Many ideas were discussed regarding ways to make it increasingly beneficial."

"The Summit was an opportunity to identify how we, as professionals, can maximize the contributions of the medical specialty boards," said Janet Corrigan, PhD, MBA, president and CEO of the National Quality Forum. "We share a common goal to create a world-class health system that delivers safe, effective care to everyone. As the healthcare landscape changes, we all need to work together to improve quality. The specialty boards play a key role in the drive toward high quality healthcare."

For the past 75 years, ABMS and its Member Boards have been a leading and trusted resource for consumers and healthcare professionals seeking information on physician qualifications, first by establishing board certification and then recertification. In recent years, ABMS established MOC to assure physician commitment to lifelong learning and competency in a specialty and/or subspecialty by requiring ongoing measurement of six core competencies: patient care, medical knowledge, practice-based learning and improvement, interpersonal and communications skills, professionalism, and systems-based practice.

"At Mayo, all physicians must be board certified and maintain that certification," said speaker Richard Berger, MD, PhD, dean, Mayo School of Continuous Professional Development, professor of orthopedics at Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minn. Mayo physicians "are incorporating MOC into their daily activities so it's literally part of the culture. Physicians then make meaningful improvements and everyone wins - boards, physicians, systems and, most of all, patients."

Among the speakers was Bob Kocher, MD, special assistant to President Barack Obama, National Economic Council, who noted that he likes the vision advanced by MOC, seeing doctors as ongoing learners who are responding to measurement and committed to improving.

Summit participants noted that ABMS and its Member Boards can play a role in a number of suggested tactics to improve healthcare, including:

  • Increasing accountability and transparency by making public the results of physician performance assessments, such as results of patient surveys, including the Consumer Assessment of Healthcare Providers and Systems (CAHPS). Participants noted that while there are a number of physician-rating systems, most focus only on bedside manner. "Physician rating sites only tell part of the story," said Christine K. Cassel, MD, president and CEO of the American Board of Internal Medicine. "A doctor should be patient- centered and able to provide a good diagnosis and treatment that leads to positive outcomes. The certifying boards have the ability to produce comprehensive, meaningful and reliable performance indicators that can be relayed to patients," she said.
  • Promoting implementation of healthcare information technology -- including electronic medical records for all patients, e-prescribing and email communication with patients -- which can provide support for physicians, improve patient care and reduce costs and waste, such as repeated tests. "These are transformative technologies, and physicians must play a role to ensure that it transforms care in the best ways," said speaker Molly Coye, MD, MPH, CEO, The Health Technology Center.
  • Increasing the amount and availability of data that can help physicians improve their care, such as disease registries, and encouraging various groups to share data that can help establish standards and in turn result in improved patient care.
  • Sharing information on quality improvement programs that have been successfully implemented with documented results showing improved care. Speakers discussed program examples, including those that improved the care of patients with asthma and others that improved lung function and survival in those with cystic fibrosis. "All of these models can be shared," said Paul Miles, MD, senior vice president for maintenance of certification and quality, American Board of Pediatrics. "If you standardize care, increase collaboration, and have the systems to support the efforts, good things happen."
  • Promoting systems improvement -- such as enhancing communication among caregivers -- resulting in better care of patients transferred from one doctor or facility to another.
  • Supporting initiatives to reduce overuse and inappropriate use of healthcare, such as unwarranted procedures and repeated tests. "People have a fear of losing or being denied (healthcare), so we have a lot of work to do in the consumer community to help them understand that more is not always better," said Debra L. Ness, president of the National Partnership for Women and Families.
  • Promoting more effective preventive medicine, resulting in healthier patients and lower costs.
  • Above all, emphasizing the importance for every stakeholder to focus on making

healthcare more patient-centered. "Physicians need to embrace the goal of standardizing their delivery of care based on the latest scientific data, so they can also custom craft the art of medicine so their care takes into account things like a patient's individual ethnicity, socioeconomic background and drug allergies," said Alice Gosfield, JD, a health attorney. "That's what patients most want, a sense that their doctors know them and are providing the best care to meet their individual needs."

The Summit was funded by a grant from the following Member Boards of the ABMS: American Board of Family Medicine, American Board of Internal Medicine, American Board of Ophthalmology, American Board of Pediatrics, and the American Board of Surgery.

About ABMS

For over 75 years, American Board of Medical Specialties is the medical organization overseeing physician certification in the United States. It assists its 24 Member Boards in their efforts to develop and implement educational and professional standards for the evaluation and certification of physician specialists. ABMS Member Boards provide physician certification information to ABMS for its certification verification service programs. ABMS is recognized by the key healthcare credentialing accreditation entities as a primary equivalent source of board certification data for medical specialists. Patients can visit or call toll-free 1-866-ASK-ABMS to see if their physician is board certified by an ABMS Member Board. For more information about ABMS visit or call (312) 436-2600.

The 24 Member Boards that make up the ABMS Board Enterprise, cover over 145 medical specialties and subspecialties, and include: American Board of Allergy and Immunology, American Board of Anesthesiology, American Board of Colon and Rectal Surgery, American Board of Dermatology, American Board of Emergency Medicine, American Board of Family Medicine, American Board of Internal Medicine, American Board of Medical Genetics, American Board of Neurological Surgery, American Board of Nuclear Medicine, American Board of Obstetrics and Gynecology, American Board of Ophthalmology, American Board of Orthopaedic Surgery, American Board of Otolaryngology, American Board of Pathology, American Board of Pediatrics, American Board of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, American Board of Plastic Surgery, American Board of Preventive Medicine, American Board of Psychiatry and Neurology, American Board of Radiology, American Board of Surgery, American Board of Thoracic Surgery, and American Board of Urology.

About NQF

The mission of the National Quality Forum is to improve the quality of American healthcare by setting national priorities and goals for performance improvement, endorsing national consensus standards for measuring and publicly reporting on performance, and promoting the attainment of national goals through education and outreach programs. NQF, a non-profit organization ( with diverse stakeholders across the public and private health sectors, was established in 1999 and is based in Washington, DC.

SOURCE American Board of Medical Specialties (ABMS)
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