Associations Between American Board of Internal Medicine Maintenance of Certification Status and Performance on a Set of Healthcare Effectiveness Data and Information Set (HEDIS) Process Measures

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Background:The value of the American Board of Internal Medicine's (ABIM) Maintenance of Certification (MOC) program has been questioned as a marker of physician quality.Objective:To assess whether physician MOC status is associated with performance on selected Healthcare Effectiveness Data and Information Set (HEDIS) process measures.Design:Annual comparisons of HEDIS process measures among physicians who did or did not maintain certification 20 years after initial certification.Setting:Fee-for-service Medicare.Participants:1260 general internists who were initially certified in 1991 and provided care for 85 931 Medicare patients between 2009 and 2012.Measurements:Annual percentage of a physician's Medicare patients meeting each of 5 HEDIS annual or biennial standards and a composite indicating meeting all 3 HEDIS diabetes standards.Results:Among the 1260 physicians, 786 maintained their certification from 1991 to 2012 and 474 did not. The mean annual percentage of HEDIS-eligible diabetic patients who completed semiannual hemoglobin A1c testing was 58.4% among physicians who maintained certification and 54.4% among those who did not (regression-adjusted difference, 4.2 percentage points [95% CI, 2.0 to 6.5 percentage points]; P < 0.001). Diabetic patients of physicians who maintained certification more frequently met the annual standard for low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol measurement (83.1% vs. 80.5%; regression-adjusted difference, 2.3 percentage points [CI, 0.6 to 4.1 percentage points]; P = 0.008) and all 3 diabetic standards (46.0% vs. 41.6%; regression-adjusted difference, 3.1 percentage points [CI, 0.5 to 5.7 percentage points]; P = 0.019). The regression-adjusted difference in biennial eye examinations was statistically insignificant (P = 0.112). Measures for LDL cholesterol testing in patients with coronary heart disease and biennial mammography were also met more frequently among physicians who maintained certification (79.4% vs. 77.4% and 72.0% vs. 67.8%, respectively), with regression-adjusted differences of 1.7 percentage points (CI, 0.2 to 3.3 percentage points; P = 0.032) and 4.6 percentage points (CI, 2.9 to 6.3 percentage points; P < 0.001), respectively.Limitation:Potential confounding by unobserved patient, physician, and practice characteristics; inability to determine clinical significance of observed differences.Conclusion:Maintaining certification was positively associated with physician performance scores on a set of HEDIS process measures.Primary Funding Source:American Board of Internal Medicine.

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