Advocacy update from AAD

November 1, 2005

The method of recertification is evolving from the current format of an open-book, take-home examination taken every 10 years to a new system that will involve actual measurement of outcomes and demonstration of continuing education, and will include an examination.

Dr. Stone, professor at the Southern Illinois University School of Medicine, Springfield, Ill., says the Academy has created a number of new committees, including an advisory committee of former presidents and a strategy committee to do long-term planning.

But two committees that will likely steal the spotlight in the coming year are the Maintenance of Certification (MOC) Committee and Practice of Medicine by Physicians and Non-Physicians Committee.

New recertification protocol

MOC is on the minds of dermatologists because the method of recertification is evolving from the current format of an open-book, take-home examination taken every 10 years to a new system that will involve actual measurement of outcomes and demonstration of continuing education, and will include an examination.

"The specifics of this are up to the American Board of Dermatology and, to the best of my knowledge, have not officially been finalized yet," Dr. Stone says.

"But the job of the Academy is that when the details are finalized, to make sure our members are provided with all the educational materials necessary to obtain this maintenance of competence."

The MOC process - as the American Board of Dermatology is producing it - is going to include four components, according to Dr. Stone.

The first is evidence of professional standing, which is basically proof that the dermatologist's license is up to date, he says.

The second is evidence of commitment to lifelong learning and periodic self-assessment.

The third is evidence of cognitive expertise.

And the fourth is the evaluation of performance in practice.

The Practice of Medicine by Physicians and Non-Physicians Committee is developing strategies to address the issues related to the infringement on the practice of medicine by non-physician health and cosmetic practitioners, Dr. Stone says.

"Many of our members are deeply concerned with the fact that people who are not trained in the anatomy, physiology and medical care of the skin are buying the latest technology, without a solid base of knowledge, and going in and using these for cosmetic purposes," Dr. Stone says.

Educating the public

Another Academy initiative is to develop a communications plan to enhance the public perception of dermatology.

"We are looking for ways to develop effective messages to the public to differentiate us from the non-dermatologists and non-physicians. This sort of ties in with the Committee on the Practice of Medicine, but this is more in terms of a positive outreach," he says.

Mending Medicare

AAD's government affairs initiatives are focused on several areas.

A top priority for the AAD is fixing what Dr. Stone says is a flawed Medicare payment formula.

"The Medicare physician payment determination formula has been flawed for more than 10 years, yet Congress has, each year, given us a temporary fix," he says. "It is clear that in the aftermath of Katrina, however, it will probably be another year before we get a permanent correction of that flawed formula."

Medicare reimbursements are dropping even as dermatologists' expenses rise, Dr. Stone says.