Introduction: The American Board of Internal Medicine (ABIM) recognized that certification and recertification must be based on an assessment of performance in practice as well as an examination of medical knowledge. Physician self-assessment of practice performance is proposed as one method that certification boards may use to evaluate competence in practice-based learning and improvement and systems-based practice.
Methods: Sixteen practicing general internists and endocrinologists with 10-year time-limited certification participated in a beta test of the ABIM's diabetes practice improvement module (PIM) as part of their recertification program. A PIM consists of a self-directed medical record audit, practice system survey, and patient survey. A quality improvement education specialist from the Connecticut Quality Improvement Organization provided on-site and distance consultation on quality improvement methods and tools. An independent audit assessed the reliability of physician self-audit. Qualitative interviews were conducted at 2 time points to assess for physician satisfaction and behavioral change in quality improvement.
Results: Fourteen physicians completed the diabetes PIM. All but 1 physician found the medical record audit to provide important information about the practice. Of the 11 physicians who completed a follow-up interview, 10 stated that the quality improvement education specialist helped improve their practice.
Discussion: Self-assessment using the ABIM diabetes PIM as part of recertification provides valuable practice information and can lead to meaningful behavioral change by physicians. Collaboration with an educator in quality improvement appears to facilitate the effects of the practice improvement module. Future work should investigate the effect on patient outcomes.