The American Board of Emergency Medicine’s (ABEM) improvements to its Maintenance of Certification (MOC) program may not grab national headlines, but the board has taken a methodical and diplomate-focused approach to the evolution of MOC, spearheaded by leaders who are also active members of the field of emergency medicine.
ABEM President Barry N. Heller, MD, a practicing emergency physician and assistant clinical professor of medicine at UCLA David Geffen School of Medicine, brings a passion for the specialty to his work at the organization. Elected President in August, Dr. Heller is no stranger to the ABEM. He has been a member of the Board of Directors since July 2008 and has served on the Executive Committee since 2012.
He recently shared with ACEP Now his objectives for his presidency and his vision for the future of the organization.
What are your goals during your term as ABEM President?
Dr. Heller: First and foremost, I want to continue ABEM’s commitment to delivering the best possible physician assessment for initial and continuous certification. ABEM multiple-choice question examinations focus on complex cognitive skills such as clinical synthesis and diagnostic processing, not purely fact recall. This emphasis carries over into the design of the In-training Examination and the ConCert (Continuous Certification) Examination. After nearly a decade of development and the commitment of substantial financial resources, ABEM recently introduced the Enhanced Oral Certification Examination (eOral) format. The eOral format creates a more authentic experience to the current oral examination. The amount of effort the ABEM Board, its hundreds of volunteers, and ABEM staff have expended on this project has been herculean. The psychometric rigor of the process and the enthusiasm with which the eOral format has been received have been very encouraging.
I also want to explore ways to increase the value of ABEM’s MOC program to our diplomates. When you examine the cost and time commitment emergency physicians spend in MOC, it’s fairly modest. The annualized cost of MOC is $265, which is about $5 per week. ABEM has kept the cost of the Lifelong Learning and Self-Assessment (LLSA) activity fixed for the past four years and the ConCert Examination unchanged for the past three years. ABEM’s participation in the Physician Quality Reporting System (PQRS) MOC bonus program through the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services added nearly $4 million in available revenue for emergency physicians. ABEM also provides low-cost CME opportunities with the LLSA through ACEP and the American Academy of Emergency Medicine (AAEM). All of the revenue from the CME activity goes to ACEP and AAEM as the accredited CME providers.