Paradocs 162: Expanding Choice for Physician Board Certification (NBPAS) with Dr. Paul Mathew

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Expanding Choice for Physician Board Certification (NBPAS) with Dr. Paul Mathew

A rite of passage for doctors is completing a residency in a specialty. Sometimes, they complete multiple specialty trainings but ultimately sit at the end of their years of training for board certification. At one time, once a physician got board certified, they were considered a specialist for life and no further testing or training was necessary. That all changed in the 1990s as the governing board for all the specialties, the American Board of Medical Specialties (ABMS) began to require that new trainees only receive time limited certification. This meant they would have to undergo new testing or requirements in order to maintain their board certification.

Initially, this expiration was every ten years and usually just involved an exam. Physicians grumbled about retesting within their discipline which required time, money, and travel usually. Eventually, over the years, the testing and continuing education modules grew and expanded requiring more and more time and expense. Now, a physician who is triple board certified, like a hematologist-oncologist, would have to do testing every 2-3 years with almost continuous rounds of studying parts of medicine that he/she no longer practices. This can cost the doctor upwards of $40,000 every ten years!

Why NBPAS is Needed

As the onerous and expensive requirements for ABMS recertification continued to pile up, doctors from prestigious medical institutions from around the country decided that it was time for another choice for board recertification. The concern was not in the initial training and certification process but simply in the verification of continued mastery in the doctor’s field of practice. Therefore, they set out to create a board certification that recognized prior training but focused continued medical education that the physician felt best helped them in their day to day practice.

This allowed the new all volunteer board to decrease the annual certification price to only 30% of the ABMS price while also drastically eliminating all of the mind-numbing busywork that doctors say contributes nothing to their practice but grows their burnout. Doctors were upset over the perceived exploitation and lack of response to their concerns over the recertification process so another choice through the NBPAS is a welcome addition.

NBPAS is Now Accepted by URAC and NCQA

One of the main limitations in the acceptance of NBPAS by hospital credentialing committees is the fact that private insurance carriers couldn’t get credentialed by their credentialing bodies if they didn’t use ABMS credentialed physicians only. Hospitals were very hesitant to allow medical staff who were not qualified to get paid by insurance carriers as they feel that this puts their patients at risk for surprise bills. Fortunately, NBPAS has now obtained acceptance by NCQA and URAC which are the main credentialing services for insurance carriers. This paves the way for physicians to have a choice between the ABMS certification or NBPAS and still get paid.

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