The frequently asked questions (FAQs) in this section have been created to assist diplomates with questions regarding the ABAI MOC Program and other topics pertaining to MOC and recertification.
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About ABAI Maintenance of Certification (MOC)
- What is Maintenance of Certification (and what happened to recertification)?
Maintenance of Certification (MOC) is a voluntary, continuous learning process that provides board-certified physicians a mechanism to demonstrate their commitment to high quality care within their specialty. It is a voluntary process for time-unlimited certificate holders.
The MOC process assesses physicians’ skills and knowledge in a changing medical specialty where active, on-going learning is key to practicing state-of-the-art specialty medical care. MOC was developed in an attempt to assure patients and other outside entities that they are receiving the most up-to-date and quality care from physicians who use best practices and evidence-based standards for care.
The ABMS has developed MOC to provide the general public with a means to assess a physician’s credentials as a provider of quality healthcare. All 24 specialty member boards have developed their own MOC processes which evaluate the six core competencies for quality patient care as outlined by the ACGME.
- How do I get started in Maintenance of Certification?
The first step is to log on to the ABAI Web Portal (http://portal.abai.org). If you have never visited this website before you will need to "Verify Your Account". The portal presents your personalized ABAI MOC information so you can track all of the requirements in one location with specific and defined timelines.
ABAI will start reporting MOC status of its Diplomates to ABMS as of January 2011. In order to be reported as "Meeting MOC Requirements", all ABAI Diplomates will need to complete their respective MOC requirements by December 31, 2010. For most Diplomates this will be the annual MOC fee of $150, copies of all medical licenses displaying the expiration date, and 25 CME credits in allergy/immunology-related activities.
- What are the requirements for the ABAI Maintenance of Certification process?
Part I - Professional Standing
Medical specialists must hold a valid, unrestricted medical license in at least one state or jurisdiction in the United States, its territories or Canada.REQUIREMENTS
- Attest to holding unrestricted medical license(s)
- Remit an annual MOC fee ($150)
- Update demographic and contact information
Part II - Lifelong Learning and Self-Assessment
Physicians participate in educational and self-assessment programs that meet specialty-specific standards that are set by their member board.REQUIREMENTS
- Attest to completing 25 CME credits annually
- Complete 1 Patient Safety Module every ten years
- Complete 1 Communication Practice Improvement Module every ten years
- Complete 1 Recent Advances Module every five years
Part III - Cognitive Expertise
Physicians demonstrate, through standardized examination, that they have the fundamental, practice-related and practice environment-related knowledge to provide quality care in their specialty.REQUIREMENTS
- Pass the proctored examination once every ten years
Part IV - Practice Performance Assessment
Medical specialists are evaluated in their clinical practice according to specialty-specific standards for patient care. They are asked to demonstrate that they can assess the quality of care they provide compared to peers and national benchmarks and then apply the best evidence or consensus recommendations to improve that care using follow-up assessments.REQUIREMENTS
- Complete 1 practice assessment/quality improvement module every 5 years
- What is the evidence that participating in MOC improves quality of care?
Unfortunately, although studies are underway, there is not yet overwhelming data confirming whether MOC improves the quality of medicine delivered (11 studies in MOC and quality of care). However, ABMS is taking the lead on developing a physician-driven process that will be credible to the many outside stakeholders interested in clinical care most importantly patients and their families. Obviously physicians are being held more accountable for practicing high quality medicine and ABMS believes that physicians and the medical profession, not regulators or payers, should develop the process by which physician performance is assessed and reported.
The Directors at ABAI understand that MOC may be burdensome for a busy academician or practitioner and we are trying our best to develop the most meaningful process possible. In addition the ABMS and the member boards are working diligently to decrease redundancy in requirements by working with other entities interested in measures of physician performance to assure that MOC measures are accepted as fulfilling requirements.
Participation in MOC
- Why should I participate in MOC and what will happen if I decide not to participate in MOC?
In addition to the personal benefits of demonstrating one’s professionalism, commitment to life-long learning and quality improvement needed to provide the highest quality Allergy and Immunology care, there are several other potential reasons why a Diplomate will want to participate in MOC:
- Patients and the public are more avidly seeking documentation that their physician is practicing the highest quality medicine, and for many stakeholders, board certification and MOC are becoming a measure of quality. If you choose not to participate you will be listed as not participating in MOC in the ABAI and ABMS databases.
- Insurers are looking at ways to identify "quality" providers and it is possible that reimbursement or carrier network participation could be tied to such defined quality in the future. The Blue Cross/Blue Shield Association has begun to emphasize participation in MOC to its members, and it is increasingly likely that participation in MOC will become a quality measure. Thus if you choose not to participate in MOC any such credits may not be available to you.
- State licensure boards are actively looking at Maintenance of Licensure (MOL) programs, and the ABMS and its member boards are working with the Federation of State Medical Boards to assure that participation in MOC will qualify for MOL.
- In certain states, malpractice carriers have already started to give discounted premium rates to physicians participating in MOC.
Read some fact sheets about the value of Maintenance of Certification, published by ABIM.
- If I have a time-unlimited certificate will I lose my certification if I don’t participate in MOC?
- I’m nearing retirement and am not sure whether to participate or where to start the process?
The reasons to participate are listed above.
In order to start the process a Diplomate will need to formally start the MOC program by registering on the ABAI Web Portal. The individual’s timetable will show where in the process they are and what will be needed by certain dates.
Note at this time, that a time unlimited Diplomate who is participating in MOC will not have to sit for the secure exam until 2021, year 10 of the MOC cycle (or 2019 if they want to take it early)!
ABAI MOC and Other ABMS Boards
- Do I need to participate in MOC for Internal Medicine or Pediatrics to participate in ABAI MOC?
- If I choose to participate in my primary board MOC is there any reciprocity with the modules, CME, or exams?
Diplomates certified with ABIM or ABP may receive reciprocal Part II and Part IV MOC credit for participation in ABIM's or ABP's MOC program. This means to participate in The American Board of Allergy & Immunology (ABAI) MOC program, you will only need to complete Part I and Part III. Additionally, you will be required to complete an attestation form regarding participation in your primary Board's MOC program. Please note that once you choose to participate reciprocally in the ABIM or ABP MOC program, you will be expected to complete the entire MOC program and will not be able to switch back to the ABAI MOC program. Read the complete details about recriprocal MOC credit.
- What types of CME credits are accepted for ABAI MOC?
ABAI accepts AMA PRA Category 1TM Credit(s) in Allergy/Immunology-related activities. The relevance of the activity is determined by the title printed on the certificate. CME activities outside the field of Allergy/Immunology will be reviewed by ABAI and approved on a case-by-case basis. Activities such as a course on wilderness medicine, for instance, will likely not be approved.
- How do I submit proof of my CME credits?
Copies of CME certificates are no longer required to be uploaded, faxed, or e-mailed to ABAI. Starting in January of 2016, diplomates will be asked to log onto their ABAI Web Portal page and attest to completing 25 hours of CME credits in the previous year. Please note that for any past due CME requirements prior to 2015 ABAI still requires that diplomates submit documentation for these outstanding activities.
The ABAI will continue to receive CME credits from the AAAAI, ACAAI, and other partner organizations on a quarterly basis.
- Will ABAI actually check all of my CME credits?
ABAI will audit the CME credits of approximately 10% of its diplomates annually. If you are selected for the audit process ABAI will request documentation of at least 25 CME credits completed in the previous calendar year.
- If I don't get 25 CME credits one year but have 50 the next year, will the credits be averaged?
The ABAI requires 25 CME credits per year in keeping with the character of a continuous learning process. If a Diplomate does not meet the CME requirement each year, they will be listed as "Not Meeting MOC Requirements" until such time that the requirement is completed. Diplomates should contact the office with any extenuating circumstances if the annual CME requirement cannot be completed.
- Why do I have to pay an annual MOC fee to maintain my certificate?
The annual MOC fee was implemented to cover the administrative costs of tracking and reporting a Diplomate’s status in the MOC process. One tool for tracking and reporting MOC status is the new ABAI Web Portal. Additionally, certain products such as the Recent Advances module for Part II MOC, are offered to ABAI Diplomates at no cost.
- Why is the cost of the secure examination so high?
The majority of the cost of the ABAI secure examination goes directly to administering the examination. Administration of the examination includes secure test sites to ensure the integrity of the examination and psychometric evaluation of results to ensure the validity and reliability of the examination. Unlike other Boards (e.g. Internal Medicine and Pediatrics), ABAI has far fewer Diplomates to share the costs so we subsequently have a higher examination fee.
- What is the total cost of Maintenance of Certification?
There is no absolute cost for ABAI MOC. The cost of the examination and the annual MOC fee are determined by the ABAI Board of Directors. The cost of components of the MOC process are regularly reviewed and adjusted as necessary, by the ABAI Board of Directors. The cost of other MOC components, such as the Patient Safety module, are controlled by other organizations. Additionally, there are currently five options for the practice assessment/quality improvement requirement which have different fee structures as determined by the sponsoring organization of the module.
FAQs about the ABAI Secure Examination
- What happens if I fail the Maintenance of Certification Secure examination?
If a Diplomate fails the secure examination, they can reapply the following year. The examination fee and supporting documentation will need to be re-submitted to ABAI. ABAI allows Diplomates to sit for the secure examination up to two years prior to the expiration of a certificate which allows for flexibility for a timely retake in case of failure. A Diplomate will be reported as "Not Certified" once a certificate expires and one or more requirements of MOC remain incomplete.
- Who writes the questions for the examination?
The ABAI Board of Directors write all examination items for the secure examination and the Recent Advances module. The ABAI Board of Directors is comprised of an equal number of Internists and Pediatricians with a mix of academicians and practitioners. There are no formal guidelines on the balance of researchers and clinicians on the board.
Recent Advances Module
- What is the Recent Advances module?
The ABAI Recent Advances module replaces the Home Study examination which formerly was a part of the ABAI Recertification process. The RA module is a 30-item open book examination which is administered online via the ABAI Web Portal. A score of 80% correct responses is required to pass. Multiple attempts are allowed if 80% is not achieved on the first attempt. The examination is offered twice a year.