What is the mission of the ABIM Foundation?

The ABIM Foundation’s mission is to advance the core values of medical professionalism to promote excellence in health care.

What kind of organization is the ABIM Foundation?

The ABIM Foundation is a 501(c)(3) charitable organization created by the American Board of Internal Medicine (ABIM) as a supporting organization within the meaning of Section 509(a)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code. It functions as an operating charity with a focus on delivering programs in support of its mission. The ABIM Foundation bylaws state that the majority of the ABIM Foundation Board must be current or former members of the ABIM Board of Directors.

How was the ABIM Foundation established?

ABIM created the ABIM Foundation in 1989. Through an extensive strategic planning process, in 1999, the ABIM Board of Directors established a separate Board of Trustees to govern the ABIM Foundation.

How is the ABIM Foundation funded?

ABIM initially transferred $5 million to the Foundation in 1990. Over nearly 20 years (between 1990 and 2008), approximately $56 million was transferred by ABIM to the ABIM Foundation. There have been no transfers since 2008.  

As is required for supporting organizations by governing accounting standards, the audit report for ABIM and the ABIM Foundation has been consolidated throughout the ABIM Foundation’s history. The most recent consolidated financial information for the organizations is available here.

What kind of work does the ABIM Foundation do?

The ABIM Foundation is an operating charity, and as such develops and implements projects in support of its mission. 

One of the Foundation’s most significant contributions has been the publication of Medical Professionalism in the New Millennium: A Physician Charter. Co-authored with the ACP Foundation and European Federation of Internal Medicine, the Charter has been endorsed by more than 130 organizations and 100,000 copies have been distributed.

Since 2010, the Foundation has focused its work primarily on advancing medical professionalism in the area of stewardship of health care resources. Examples of Foundation programs supporting this work include the Choosing Wisely® campaign, the Teaching Value and Choosing Wisely® Challenge, and the Putting Stewardship into Medical Education and Training grant program.

The Choosing Wisely campaign is one of the most well-known initiatives of the ABIM Foundation. More than 70 medical specialty societies have voluntarily chosen to participate in this effort and have published more than 400 recommendations of overused tests or treatments that clinicians and patients should discuss. The campaign and society recommendations have been included in nearly 300 journal articles and more than 10,000 media articles since 2012. Choosing Wisely has attracted $6.7 million in support from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, which has funded further dissemination of Choosing Wisely in communities throughout the United States.

In addition to these programs the Foundation continues to advance professionalism broadly through other initiatives, such as its annual Forum and the John A. Benson Jr., MD Professionalism Article Prize.

Previous ABIM Foundation initiatives have included:

Addressing Conflicts of Interest: The ABIM Foundation formed a partnership with the Institute on Medicine as a Profession to explore conflict of interest policies governing relationships between physicians and pharmaceutical companies. Results of this work were published in the Journal of the American Medical Association and led the Association of American Medical Colleges to approve recommendations on new policies for medical schools and research institutions. The ABIM Foundation, along with others, funded creation of the module “Managing Conflicts of Interest in Interactions with the Pharmaceutical and Medical Device Industries: A CME and MOC Program for Practitioners” as part of the American College of Physicians High Value Care curriculum.

Enhancing Primary Care: The ABIM Foundation funded research seeking to address shortages in the number of physicians choosing to focus in primary care, as well as to explore solutions to the high level of burnout experienced by those in the field. To begin finding solutions to these challenges and revitalize primary care, a team of researchers visited 23 high-performing practices across the United States seeking innovations that could help restore joy in practice. The team’s research culminated in “In Search of Joy in Practice: A Report of 23 High-Functioning Primary Care Practices,” published in Annals of Family Medicine. Learn more about this work.

Improving Care Transitions: The Stepping Up to the Plate Alliance sought to improve care transitions between hospitals and primary care physicians and reduce readmissions. The ABIM Foundation led the Alliance, which produced a set of principles and standards that were endorsed by 10 societies and served as the basis for new principles for four others. The ABIM Foundation and others persuaded and sponsored the American Medical Association’s Physician Consortium for Performance Improvement to convene a working group to develop measures based on these standards, four of which were endorsed by the National Quality Forum. In 2011, the ABIM Foundation provided funding to the American College of Physicians to develop a care transitions module that became part of its Medical Home Builder.

More information on the ABIM Foundation’s programs and achievements can be found in the Accomplishments in Advancing Medical Professionalism timeline.

What kinds of projects does the ABIM Foundation fund?

As an operating charity, the ABIM Foundation is not primarily a grant-making organization; however, it does provide funding to other organizations and projects when they are in alignment with its mission. For example, the Foundation funded the Drexel University College of Medicine to create educational modules based on society Choosing Wisely recommendations to enhance physician communications skills to help their patients avoid unnecessary care. The ABIM Foundation also supports key research projects and initiatives of ABIM that have been identified as opportunities to accelerate improvements in its programs.

Examples of recently-funded ABIM projects include:

2015: High Fidelity Simulation: Interventional Cardiology ($202,625): This grant enabled ABIM to continue its work with simulated cases, building on an earlier ABIM Foundation grant. ABIM has offered simulation modules for Maintenance of Certification (MOC) credit and has begun the process of updating them; this funding covers the non-staff costs of implementing six new simulated cases and completing updates of cases that have already been simulated. ABIM would compare performance on the simulator with written cognitive exam performance, and could potentially create additional cases that could serve as part of the high-stakes assessment in Certification or MOC.

2014: Grant Program for Specialty Societies/Certifying Boards of Internal Medicine to Develop Patient Safety Modules: Putting the Charter into Practice: Patient Safety ($250,000): This is a grant program to fund specialty society efforts to create scalable MOC products and programs focused on patient safety. Under this grant program, societies have the latitude to identify patient safety issues relevant to their specialty, consider the kinds of practice-based interventions that could lessen the probability of those safety issues occurring and design products and programs to promote such interventions. The program made five awards of $50,000 each; receipt of an award does not guarantee that MOC credit will be approved. 

2013: Assessing Patient Care Using Simulated Clinical Vignettes ($125,000):  This contribution to ABIM is funding research to determine (a) whether clinical vignette simulations can assess clinical diagnosis and management skills necessary for quality patient care; (b) if they are feasible to develop, implement and score; and (c) whether outcomes are reproducible. The project is also examining whether such simulations would add value to ABIM’s assessment program above and beyond what is measured by its multiple-choice single-best-answer vignettes.

Examples of other programs and initiatives funded in support of the ABIM Foundation’s mission:

2014: Putting Stewardship into Practice: Medical Education and Training Small Grant Program ($150,000): This program is designed to encourage and support innovative and scalable practices and ideas for integrating stewardship as a defined competency and professional norm in medical training and education. It will fund six $25,000 awards. Selected applicants would demonstrate both that their projects would promote better stewardship at their institutions and that they could be transferred to a wide variety of institutions and settings. Awardees are expected to be announced in fall 2015.

2014: Advancing Stewardship in Medical Education: The Teaching Value and Choosing Wisely Challenge and Learning Network ($40,000): This proposal funded a follow-up challenge to the successful 2013 Teaching Value and Choosing Wisely competition, in which 74 entrants submitted proposed or existing innovations to enable their institutions to be better stewards of resources. The competition was managed by Drs. Vineet Arora, Christopher Moriates, and Neel Shah, and the grant funded their time in managing a new round. It also paid for their time in organizing and moderating a series of 12 monthly webinars for the medical education learning network that the Foundation created. Winners of the challenge were announced in early 2015, and the growing Teaching Value in Healthcare Learning Network is host to a vibrant community of medical educators.

2012: Web-Based Module in Support of ABIM Foundation’s Choosing Wisely Campaign ($50,000): This grant to the Drexel University College of Medicine provides for the development of nine interactive Web-based video modules for societies participating in the Choosing Wisely campaign. Each module included two components: (1) a generic portion that illustrates how physicians can discuss issues related to resource use with their patients; and (2) a tailored portion that discusses the society’s “Top 5” list and includes hypothetical examples of conversations between physicians and patients about items on the list. The modules, available on the Choosing Wisely website, have been viewed thousands of times.