In the near future, otolaryngologists will have a new option for fulfilling the exam requirement for Maintenance of Certification (MOC). Instead of taking and passing the Part III component of MOC every 10 years or so to ensure recertification, an alternative test will soon be available that consists of a limited number of questions given more frequently to assess and provide feedback to physicians in real time through an online portal.
CertLink, the pilot program that is being developed by the American Board of Medical Specialties (ABMS), uses a web-based platform as an innovative approach to assessment. It is one program among a wide variety of MOC innovations the ABMS Member Boards are currently exploring, according to Rich Waters, MBA, CAE, vice president of marketing and communications for ABMS (see “Additional MOCA Innovations,” below). “CertLink will allow ABMS and the Boards community to explore an assessment model that for some may become an appropriate alternative,” he said.
The American Board of Otolaryngology (ABOto) is one of several boards participating in the CertLink pilot that, for otolaryngologists, will launch in 2018. “CertLink is a new initiative by some of the boards to move away from the high-stakes 10-year exam, which some people refer to as summative assessment, to a more formative assessment of knowledge,” said Randy Weber, MD, past president of the ABOto and chair of the department of Head and Neck Surgery at The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston.
Formative assessment refers to a more continuous way of assessing knowledge versus the traditional approach of assessing knowledge at one point in time, and diplomates who choose to participate in the CertLink pilot will be tested on a more frequent basis than the Part III MOC exam. This will allow not only for a more continuous assessment of knowledge, but, importantly, will promote continuous learning.
“I think CertLink will address the concerns of our diplomates in that this will make MOC more clinically relevant and personalized,” said David Eisele, MD, chair of the ABOto MOC committee, Andelot Professor of Laryngology and Otology, and director of the department of otolaryngology-head and neck surgery at Johns Hopkins Medical Center in Baltimore.
One particular benefit of participating in CertLink instead of the standard Part III MOC exam is its convenience. Instead of needing to prepare for a high stakes exam every 10 years and taking time away from clinical practice to go offsite to sit for the exam, CertLink comes to the diplomate via email notification that questions are available on the ABO website. Diplomates simply need to log on to the website to answer the questions. [see “Benefits of CertLink,” below.]
How CertLink Works
Robert Miller, MD, MBA, ABOto executive director and editor of ENTtoday, describes CertLink as “basically the same thing as MOCA Minute, with minor modifications.”