Fall 2021 Hematology Board Summary

Fall 2021 Hematology Board Summary

Mark Udden, MD Chair Hematology Board

The Hematology Board met virtually on November 5 to discuss recent and upcoming changes at ABIM, as well as focus on many other important issues facing the discipline.

Guests Included:

  • Charles Clayton, Chief Professional Development & Diversity Officer, American Society of Hematology (ASH)
  • Robby Reynolds, Director of Hematology Workforce & Career Development, ASH
  • Robert Means, MD, Chair, ABIM Hematology Board Exam Committee

Below is a summary of the key takeaways from the meeting:

Leadership Update

Richard J. Baron, MD, ABIM President and CEO, joined the Hematology Board to provide members with recent updates, including:

  • Reflecting on the spring 2021 Internal Medicine Summit, and how ABIM and specialty societies could collaborate to advance diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) efforts across internal medicine.
  • Sharing reactions to a joint statement issued by ABIM, the American Board of Family Medicine, and American Board of Pediatrics about the possible ramifications for physicians who disseminate misinformation on COVID-19.
  • Previewing the Longitudinal Knowledge Assessment (LKA™), which launched in January 2022 in 12 specialties, including hematology.

Practice Profiles

Rebecca Lipner, PhD, Senior Vice President, Assessment and Research; Siddharta Reddy, MPH, Senior Research Associateand Pamela Kaliski, PhD, Manager of Exam Innovations, discussed research conducted in collaboration with ASH to better understand the conditions hematologists see more often in practice to determine the feasibility of developing focused assessments. This kind of assessment option would be designed for hematologists whose practice differs from the general blueprint, and would contain more questions in a given category to better reflect what they see in practice.

ABIM and ASH distributed a survey to 2,200 board certified hematologists between November 2020 and May 2021 to determine interest in such a focused assessment. Six hundred and six responded from both academic and non-academic sectors.

The survey determined two areas were worth considering for possible focused exam development in the future (in addition to the current blueprint):  

  • those working in non-malignant hematology and
  • physicians working in malignant hematology.

Staff and Specialty Board members will continue to analyze the data to determine if focused exams in the latter two areas could be developed, with them possibly becoming available in 2024 at the earliest.

Report from American Society of Hematology (ASH)

  • Robby Reynolds, Director of Hematology Workforce & Career Development at ASH, shared that the society has committed to funding 10 new hematology-focused fellowship programs in the US with funds allocated though 2030, which could create 50 new specialists in the field (a $19 million commitment). Thirty-nine institutions expressed an interest and 23 are applying for the slots, with a two-fellow-per-institution maximum allowed in the program. ASH will announce the institutions that receive funding for the fellowship positions on March 15, 2022.
  • Charles Clayton, Chief Professional Development & Diversity Officer at ASH, complimented ABIM’s DEI work and made a short presentation on how the society is making strides in this area. ASH has been collaborating with members of the Council of Medical Specialty Societies and hopes to form a collective action plan to help increase the number of students from historically marginalized communities applying to and being accepted into medical school. ASH is also working to improve physician competencies around health inequities and identifying race-based guidance documents that need to be updated.

Diversity, Equity and Inclusion: Progress Report

Pamela Browner White, Senior Vice President of Communications and Chief Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Officer; Lorna Lynn, MD, Vice President for Medical Education Research and the Staff Administrator for the Board of Director’s Committee on Diversity, Equity and Inclusion; and Weifeng Weng, PhD, Director of Research Analysis, updated the Hematology Board on ABIM’s progress in advancing DEI and becoming an actively anti-racist organization.

Ms. Browner White noted that she has been Chief Equity, Diversity and Inclusion Officer for a little more than a year at the time of the meeting, and encouraged Specialty Board members to visit the year in review post on the ABIM blog.

She noted that the organization is beginning with race and ethnicity data but the committee understands that diversity is much broader than that.

She also reminded the Specialty Board of ABIM and ABIM Foundation’s Racial Justice statement: “It’s not simply enough to say passively we will do no harm; we pledge actively to do our part in opposing and dismantling systems and policies that cause harm to our patients and disproportionately affect those in Black and Brown communities.”

She said much of the work has been guided by this statement, and updated members in a number of areas ABIM is making progress.

Dr. Lynn and Dr. Weng then provided an overview of race and ethnicity data for the overall internal medicine diplomate population and for hematology diplomates. Dr. Lynn noted that while the current reports rely on external data, in the future, ABIM will ask diplomates to self-identify with regards to their gender, race and ethnicity. 

ABIM will collaborate with society partners and others to decide on what identifiers will be used. Making the reasons clear as to why we will begin to collect this information is vitally important; it’s all about assuring that our programs are fair, and that we make sure a broad range of voices are included in our discussions.

Hematology Board members shared their reactions to these data and their ideas for how ABIM can best move this work forward, as well as their personal experiences working within their own institutions.

Hematology Board members talked about how the lower number of Black and Hispanic physicians applying to medical school mirrors the lower number of physicians overall choosing to specialize in hematology. There was general agreement that this is not a problem with hematology as a discipline, but a problem in building a pipeline of younger physicians entering the medical field.

As ABIM continues this work it will keep the community informed on its progress. More information can be found in a special section of our blog entitled ABIM’s Commitment to Health Equity.

Longitudinal Knowledge Assessment (LKA) Update

Alison Carey, Senior Director of Engagement and Digital Experience, updated the Specialty Board on how ABIM has engaged physicians throughout the LKA development process to ensure it will meet their needs and provide a good user experience.

This work included establishing a Physician Advisory Panel of 10 board certified physicians, who met on a monthly basis to share feedback on a variety of areas, such as the LKA assessment platform, communications materials, and other program design elements.

These insights were enhanced through regular user-testing sessions, surveys and feedback gleaned from diplomate phone calls and emails. More than a dozen physicians volunteered to serve as beta testers for the LKA platform to help identify bugs or other user experience issues; their feedback resulted in important improvements to the testing platform prior to launch.

ABIM plans to continue engaging with the community beyond the LKA launch and make improvements based upon physician feedback. All ABIM certified physicians are encouraged to join the Community Insights Network where they may receive occasional requests to share their thoughts about various ABIM programs or topics.

Enrollment for the 2022 LKA opened December 1, 2021, and the first batch of questions was delivered January 4, 2022. Learn more about its features, benefits, and other important details at abim.org/lka.

Conversation during the meeting centered around the ease in which physicians can access the LKA, how physicians can prepare for the LKA differently than traditional ABIM assessments by not needing to “cram,” the amount of time allocated for each question and how scoring adds up through the years. The LKA differs from the traditional, 10-year MOC exam in that it better melds assessment and learning by providing regular feedback along the way that physicians can use to identify and address knowledge gaps. As a longitudinal assessment it’s scored differently too, allowing physicians to demonstrate improvement as they continue to answer questions over the 5-year cycle.

 Exploring Opportunities to Enhance Trust Between ABIM and the Community

In an effort to continually improve its programs and relationships with the diplomate community, Specialty Board members engaged in an exercise aimed at identifying opportunities to enhance trust between ABIM and the physicians it serves. Insights previously gleaned through Governance member feedback have informed other important changes at ABIM, including its work in advancing DEI initiatives, better accommodations for nursing mothers, and the LKA launching in 2022.

A number of ideas emerged during this session – such as asking for more feedback from diplomates, increasing transparency about how diplomate fees are used, and more clearly explaining the value of assessment and how exams are developed and scored.

Similar sessions were held at each ABIM Specialty Board meeting throughout the fall. The top ideas will be presented to a selection committee comprised of staff and ABIM Council members to determine which ideas could be implemented in the future.

In Closing

The Hematology Board values the feedback and commentary of the entire medical community, including diplomates and society partners.

Do you have any questions? Are you interested in how to get involved?

If you have questions after reading this report, please connect with us through the following channels: