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We believe that board certification (BC) and maintenance of certification (MOC) will increasingly impact optometric physicians throughout the United States, in no small part because of the recent passage of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (HR 3590).  Because we recognize the potential importance of BC and MOC to optometric physicians, our goal is to provide information and educational services for those wishing to pursue ABO board certification.  Please note that at this stage, it is simply not clear what impact, if any, the HR 3590 will have on optometry and board certification.

It should also be noted that KMK is not affiliated with the American Board of Optometry (ABO).  However, in our understanding, the the rigorous process for BC laid out by the ABO will meet and exceed the requirements for similar fields set forth in HR 3590.   We have formed this opinion based on the following information:

  1. According to HR 3590, the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, initial board certification and MOC equivalent to standards set forth by the American Board of Medical Specialties (ABMS) are required for third-party network practitioner parity.
  2. Optometric physicians currently do not fall under the umbrella of the ABMS.  It is not clear whether optometric physicians will eventually be held to that same standard.  However, it does appear that the process of BC and MOC outlined by the ABO mirrors that of the ABMS.
  3. According to the ABO, the ABO board certification examination and subsequent MOC process will use evidence-based guidelines, national standards and best practices in combination with customized continuing education so optometric physicians can demonstrate their leadership in the national movement for healthcare quality.
  4. To our knowledge, no other organization within optometry offering board certification currently has a process of “reporting quality measures through the use of a maintenance of certification program” that includes “a formalized, secure examination.”  Other organizations within our profession argue that MOC with a formalized examination is not necessary because state optometry licensing boards require continuing education and initial licensure requires passage of NBEO examinations.  The difficulty with this assumption is that if this non-standardized continuing education is not similar to the structure used by the ABMS, outside entities may not view these as "equivalent" to the ABMS, and may not look at those credentials as valid (and furthermore, the NBEO itself does not consider passage of all parts of their examination equivalent to board certification).  Without a valid credential, we fear that third parties may view optometric physicians as falling short of requirements mandated by this new law (HR 3590), thereby allowing third parties to discriminate accordingly.  The ABO MOC process requires proof of standardized continuing education and experience in between testing for re-certification.

The statements above represent the opinions of KMK instructors based on publicly available information.  There are a number of additional viewpoints on this issue.  As these are only opinions, we encourage each individual to explore the issue in more detail and come to your own conclusions.  Board certification in optometry is a contentious issue, and our primary goal is to provide educational services for those choosing to pursue board certification, not to make a strong political statement for or against the process.  For more information on the ABO board certification process, we encourage you to visit the ABO website.

 

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