Physician Assessment

The ABIM Foundation provides funding to the American Board of Internal Medicine (ABIM) to support key research projects and initiatives that have been identified as opportunities to improve ABIM’s Certification and Maintenance of Certification physician assessment programs. Recent projects include:


Cultivating Physician Engagement in Performance Improvement – In November 2016, the American Board of Internal Medicine and the ABIM Foundation convened a group of stakeholders—including both physicians from varying practice settings and other opinion leaders—for a two-day meeting to discuss what physicians need to know and do to improve quality, and how certifying boards, specialty societies and other organizations could foster physician engagement and skills development in performance improvement. Read a summary of the meeting.



High Fidelity Simulation: Interventional Cardiology ($202,625) – Continued ABIM’s work with simulated cases, building on an earlier ABIM Foundation grant. ABIM offers simulation modules for Maintenance of Certification (MOC) credit and has begun the process of updating them. This funding covers non-staff costs to implement six new simulated cases and complete updates of cases that have already been simulated. Performance on the simulator will ultimately be compared with written cognitive exam performance and could potentially create additional cases that would serve as part of Certification or MOC.

Research on Feasibility of Moving Toward an “Open Book” Format for Secure Exams ($394,200) – Supported research to determine the feasibility of moving toward an “open book” format for all or some portion of ABIM secure exams. This research will address which external resources to include (and how to incorporate the resources into the exams) and the effect that including external resources would have on the current ABIM exams.



Grant Program for Specialty Societies/Certifying Boards of Internal Medicine to Develop Patient Safety Modules ($200,000) – Provided funding to specialty societies to create scalable MOC products and programs focused on patient safety. Receipt of an award does not guarantee that MOC credit will be approved. Under this grant, societies:

  • identified patient safety issues relevant to their specialty,
  • considered the kinds of practice-based interventions that could lessen the probability of those safety issues occurring and
  • designed products and programs to promote such interventions.

Four awards of $50,000 were given to the American College of Cardiology, the American College of Physicians, the American Society of Clinical Oncology and the Renal Physicians Association.

Development of an Appropriately Conservative Management (ACM) Subscale for ABIM Exams ($125,000) – Supported the coding of all existing management questions from ABIM’s Internal Medicine and subspecialty Certification/MOC exam pools to enable ABIM to provide feedback to physicians on their performance on an ACM subscale. In a previous project, ABIM developed an “Appropriately Conservative Management” subscale that included questions on two Internal Medicine exams where conservative management was the correct answer.



Assessing Patient Care Using Simulated Clinical Vignettes ($125,000) – Funded research to determine:

  • whether clinical vignette simulations can assess clinical diagnosis and management skills necessary for quality patient care;
  • if they are feasible to develop, implement and score; and
  • 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.



The Use of an Electronic Source of Patient-Level Data to Develop a Comprehensive Care Composite Measure and Performance Threshold ($50,000) – Supported the first phase of a project to develop a composite measure of comprehensive care based on data extracted from electronic health record (EHR) systems.

Proof-of-Concept Test of ABIM Teamwork Assessment in Primary Care ($14,500) – Supported the testing of the ABIM teamwork assessment in up to 10 primary care practices to help determine how the assessment works in ambulatory practices.



Should Clinicians Trust Their Intuitive Diagnoses? ($33,000) – Funded a study of diagnostic errors undertaken in partnership with Dr. Mark Graber, a recognized authority in the field. The study examined the relationship between intuition and diagnostic errors, seeking to determine whether and under what circumstances practitioners should rely upon their initial judgments in diagnosing conditions.

Convening Experts in Multi-Source Feedback ($30,000) – Convened a group of 10 international experts in multi-source feedback to allow ABIM’s research team to better understand current approaches and tools; assess which current tools ABIM may want to consider adopting or modifying for its own use; and to develop a potential research agenda in this area.

“Just in Time” Skill Development for ABIM Initiative to Stimulate Competency-Based Innovation in Graduate Medical Education ($40,000) – Supported an initiative to promote competency-based innovations in graduate medical education, through a development program for medical educators.

Ethnographic Study of Hospitalists and Interprofessional Teamwork ($12,000) – Funded a study of the teamwork practices of hospitalists in a variety of hospital settings.

Exploring Physician Responses to Typical Professional Challenges: A Web-Based Survey ($39,150) – Provided further funding for its research on how to help physicians assess their professionalism, including enabling a Web-based survey of 1,000 physicians to test attitudes about professionalism.



Physician-Level Interventions: What Works to Improve Quality of Care ($25,000) – Partially funded a research conference, co-sponsored by AHRQ and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, to examine and discuss the evidence on the efficacy of prevailing physician-directed interventions (i.e., pay for performance/reporting incentive programs, care delivery reform at the physician and system levels, etc.) to improve quality and efficiency.


Related Video

Putting Quality Into Practice documents examines physician engagement in quality improvement projects.