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Maintenance of Certification – important and to whom?

April 17, 2013
By Paul M. Kempen

In 2000, the American Board of Medical Specialties (ABMS) mandated all 24 specialty affiliates to limit board certification (BC) duration to 10 years.

stethoscope and insurance docs

In 2000, the American Board of Medical Specialties (ABMS) mandated all 24 specialty affiliates to limit board certification (BC) duration to 10 years. This occurred against initial opposition of several of the affiliates, as the utility, financial, and time impositions, as well as the basic need for such imposition, were openly questioned. Given the threat of losing the ‘franchise’ if not adhering to ABMS corporate mandates, all 24 board affiliates submitted to the ‘10 year policy’ of the ABMS. Subsequently, ABMS recertification programs to renew and maintain BC, now required all physicians to subscribe to increasingly expensive and time-consuming corporate programs, marketed under the name of Maintenance of Certification (MOC). MOC entails yearly and interval consumption of programs, so called ‘licensed products’ of the ABMS affiliates. While MOC continues to be marketed by the ABMS as a ‘voluntary measure’, ABMS has continued pressing strongly for insurance corporations, hospital medical staff, and federal programs to require BC for physician participation and payments, as a ‘Measure of Quality’. As the ABMS itself does not produce educational components, only testing, the MOC educational products have been licensed typically to specialty societies. These national medical societies are eager to earn the significant revenues from these programs – establishing an overwhelmingly powerful academic core industry to propagate the myth of ‘Higher Standards, Better Care’ registered trademark of the ABMS logo and copyrighted ‘Board Certified’ status.

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Health Care