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ABMS White Paper Pros and Cons

March 03, 2011

ABMS White Paper

Today we are going to talk about the ABMS White Paper. A white paper is usually an analytical paper, and in this case one has recently been drafted by the American Board of Medical Specialties (ABMS). It addresses what’s called MOC CME or Maintenance of Certification CME for specialists. It includes both productive discussion and analysis, as well as some unproductive analysis, so let’s talk about both.

Productive Discussion in the ABMS White Paper

First on the productive side, there are really two key areas of productive discussion. The ABMS found that CME is actually relevant to all four parts of the MOC System. Previously it was indicated that CME would only be relevant to part two, which not surprisingly deals with CME and self-assessment. Now they are saying that it is relevant to all four parts of that MOC system, which is good news for CME. Secondly, the white paper includes recommendations supporting the use of evidence-based content and multiple formats appropriate for practice improvement and quality improvement. In short, it is a good recap supporting current ACCME requirements and development of CME that addresses the core IOM (or Institute of Medicine) list of physician competencies.

Unproductive Discussion in the ABMS White Paper

Despite these productive areas, the ABMS White Paper continues to support hearsay in lieu of evidence in the area of industry grant funding for CME and the so called “perception of bias”. The draft states that “the ABMS is still entertaining and responding to arguments about “public perception” that are not grounded in the evidence.” By including discussion about perception or appearances regarding CME, the ABMS ignores the two validated evidence-based studies on CME and potential buyers that were conducted in 2009 and 2010. It also runs counter to the recent report by the Institute of Medicine. You may recall that the 2009 IOM report argued against dealing with a vague notion of the “appearance of conflict of interest” by stating in the report that “some conflict of interest policies refer to actual or perceived conflicts of interest, and professionals should avoid even the appearance of a conflict of interest.” That requirement may lead to confusion according to the IOM. The ABMS rough draft paper has a ways to go before garnering significant credibility and support, but the good news is the ABMS MOC support program is accepting feedback from all interested parties on the draft paper. So feel free to log on to to read and respond to the draft paper. As always, if you have any questions about the ABMS white paper or any CME topics, feel free to contact us here