For all medical specialties, initial board certification followed by maintenance of certification is a reality that can produce significant anxiety not to mention some non-insignificant financial outlays. The American Board of Family Medicine (ABFM) was one of the first specialty boards to mandate maintenance of certification (MOC) (now called Continuing Certification) and it has become a big business for the specialty boards. This has come with a significant degree of controversy, especially for the American Board of Internal Medicine (ABIM) whose maintenance of certification process was deemed to be too onerous and expensive without evidence of significant benefit. The ABIM responded by changing the requirements last year to appease its members and has even more changes on the way.
The maintenance of certification/continuing certification process allows for periodic examination of a specialty board’s members. In family medicine, this is typically 7-10 years between certification exams. The continuing certification process consists of a number of requirements. These include such things as maintaining an unrestricted medical license, completing continuing medical education (CME) requirements, passing the board certification exam and MOC/continuing certification modules and skills assessments. These modules include Knowledge Self-assessment (KSA) activities, Clinical Self-assessment (CSA) activities, and Performance Improvement (PI) with Patient Population activities. Diplomates must earn a prescribed number of points each cycle prior to retaking the certification exam with points comprised of a mixture of the above activities.
In January 2017, the ABFM launched the Continuous Knowledge Self-Assessment (CKSA) activity which delivers 25 questions per quarter to diplomates. If all 100 questions are completed, members earn 10 certification points. Initially, the CKSA activity was only available online, but now it is available via a free app. Diplomates can choose to answer all questions at once or work on just one or two at a time and complete the 25 questions over the course of each 3-month interval. Let’s take a look at the new ABFM CKSA app in action!
Evidence based medicine
The app takes the web experience of the CKSA from the ABFM website and brings it alive on the smartphone. The questions are all from the ABFM and go through a vigorous vetting process similar to other board certification groups. The answers to questions are all evidence-based and include reasonable amounts of information to inform providers why they correctly answered/missed a particular question. The self-assessment prior to submitting each answer is novel and unique and has some evidence to support its use. Regardless, it makes the experience much more enjoyable.
Who would benefit from this App?
Any Family Medicine ABFM Diplomate looking to complete their MOC requirements (just the CKSA) on their mobile devices.
Disclaimer: The views expressed are those of the author(s) and do not reflect the official policy of the Department of the Army, the Department of Defense or the U.S. Government.
- Physicians can complete MOC requirements on their mobile devices.
- Novel self-assessment process to assess provider confidence in their answer/knowledge.
- Available for Android.
- App only does one thing—quarterly MOC CKSA tests.
- Answer sections to questions could be more robust and include more links to review articles/references.
- Questions could/should include more multimedia—pictures/EKGs/CXRs…may simply be question dependent rather than an issue with the app design.
The ABFM CKSA app is a real gem for family medicine providers who want to complete MOC requirements on their smartphone. The app works just like the web version without all the “business” of the ABFM website. Hopefully, this is just the beginning of bringing more MOC requirements to smartphones and tablets. Perhaps one day we will take the certification exam on our personnel tablets?
- Overall Score
- User Interface
App is easy to use with novel self-assessment of confidence in answer selected and use/non-use of additional resources to answer questions.
- Multimedia Usage
Each question has a detailed answer section with explanations for correct/incorrect choices, but little multimedia noted so far in the way of graphics, videos, links to relevant articles, etc.
App is free. No charge for ABFM diplomats to complete CKSA for maintenance of certification.
- Real World Applicability
The ABFM has done a fabulous job bring their CKSA experience from the web to the smartphone. The app is simple and only does “one thing”, but does it well. Certainly, the perfect way for the busy family physician to work on maintenance of certification requirements while on the go. This will certainly be my preferred method for completing these quarterly self-assessment tests.
- Device Used For Review
iPhone 6S running iOS 10.3.2
- Available for DownloadAndroidiPhoneiPad