Study: Physician MOC to cost $5.7B over 10 years

Pushback is growing over the high expense of maintenance of certification (MOC) requirements for physicians, which could cost more than $5 billion over the next decade, according to a study in the Annals of Internal Medicine.

Researchers from the University of California, San Francisco and Stanford University found that MOC for all physician specialties will cost $5.7 billion over the next 10 years. For the first time, most of the cost is not in money sent to recertification providers, but rather in the time spent by physicians complying with the recertification requirements.

The researchers found that nine of 10 dollars in MOC costs were attributable to program demands on physician time, said lead author Dr. Alexander Sandhu of Stanford University. Indeed, fulfilling physician requirements such as completing online modules far outpaced fees paid for MOC to the American Board of Internal Medicine (ABIM), the study team reported (Ann Intern Med, July 28, 2015).

In all, MOC compliance is expected to cost 33.7 million physician hours over 10 years, Sandhu said. New studies are underway to evaluate the cost versus the value of the programs. Efforts to reform the process should focus on making the best use of physician time, he added.

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