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Update from our Chair

BarbaraHave you started your Maintenance of Certification (MOC) this year? I thought I would devote this editorial to the reasons behind the MOC requirements, and the ways ABO is working to make it relevant to your practice.

When ABO was created, we found that in order for board certified optometrists to have parity with board certified physicians, the requirements had to be substantially equivalent. The standard was set at 100 hours of continuing education per three year period. This enabled ABO’s MOC program to be considered as equivalent to those developed by the American Board of Medical Specialties. Without this, the credential “board certified” is meaningless.

To make MOC pertinent to your practice, you’re able to choose the classes you want to take and the formats that are most appropriate for you. Even live webinars count towards the requirement for face-to-face education, so there is no need to travel to meetings if you choose not to. Click here for a description of the requirements for MOC.

As part of your requirements during each 3-year MOC stage, an annual module must be completed that is designed to either bring you up to date on current clinical thinking (Self Assessment Module, or SAM), or have you evaluate your practice according to quality measures that are used by Medicare to evaluate practices and eventually to control payment to practitioners (Performance in Practice Module, or PPM). These measures are used to improve quality in practice, a metric that Medicare will be using to calculate reimbursement.

Unlike in medicine, where many practitioners feel that MOC activities are not relevant to them, you can choose the CE that you feel will benefit you the most. ABO is in the process of building the SAM library so that there is more variety in those activities as well. (As a side note, if you are interested in working on a SAM, please let us know.)

MOC provides a benchmark for OD’s to be evaluated on the same basis as MD’s and other medical professionals. It creates accountability for lifelong learning. Given a choice, patients want their doctors to be board certified. Currently, Medicare refers new clients to Physician Compare to choose a doctor, where ABO board certification is listed as one of the doctor’s credentials. The new MIPS program looks for Clinical Practice Improvement programs (like MOC) and will be using quality measures to assess payment to practitioners. At the recent American Board of Medical Specialties meeting, it was noted that malpractice insurance premiums will likely vary based on MOC, and that other medical insurers are looking at Medicare’s reimbursement model.

At least one state (Oregon) allows demonstration of MOC as verification for re-licensure. Our work is to get the other 49 states to recognize that MOC meets or exceeds their CE requirements for re-licensure, and to allow that as documentation for the future.

 What’s the future of MOC? ABO is aware that in medicine MOC is controversial. As medical specialties review their requirements, we, too, will be looking at ways to make MOC be as user friendly as possible. It’s imperative and in your best interest that any changes we make withstand the scrutiny of the certifying bodies so that we do not lose our standing. Parity with medicine is paramount.

Best wishes,

Barbara L. Reiss, OD, FAAO
Chair, American Board of Optometry