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The American Board of Medical Specialties (ABMS) recently announced that its 24-member boards would be implementing changes aimed at better assisting physicians in staying up to date with advances in their fields.

The changes support the recommendations released in a report earlier this year by the independent, multi-stakeholder Continuing Board Certification: Vision for the Future Commission. The commission’s report encouraged ABMS member boards to develop programs of assessment and learning that are ongoing, provide practical feedback and help certified physicians to improve their clinical skills.

According to ABMS, by the end of 2019 all of its member boards will have established or will be implementing continuing certification programs that base decisions on frequent, formative and practice-relevant assessments that promote recent advances in the specialty. ABMS will also adopt new continuing certification standards by 2020.

ABMS recently sent a letter to hospitals and health systems stating that hospitals and health systems should be free, without any legal restraint, to consider certification status when rendering a decision about hospital privileges, while also recognizing that certification status is not the only indicator of a physician’s quality, and that it is not appropriate to grant or deny privileges solely based on certification status.

These changes are consistent with CMA’s extensive policy on the issue of Maintenance of Certification (MOC). CMA’s policy states that participation in MOC programs should be voluntary and should not be a requirement for state licensure; and that participation in MOC programs may be a factor, but not a requirement, when assessing physician competence for employment, medical staff privileges and health plan participation.

ABMS also announced it would be establishing collaborative task forces, which will include external stakeholders, to address the practice improvement and professionalism components of continuing certification programs that need to be better integrated with the practice environment of physicians.

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