Fall 2021 Infectious Disease Board Summary

Fall 2021 Infectious Disease Board Summary

The Infectious Disease Board met virtually on September 13, 2021 to discuss recent and upcoming changes at ABIM, as well as many other important issues facing the discipline. The Board was joined by two guests from the Infectious Diseases Society of America: Chris Busky, Chief Executive Officer, and Rachel Shnekendorf, Senior Director of Education.

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

Leadership Update

Richard J. Baron, MD, ABIM President and CEO, joined the Infectious Disease 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 (ABFM), and the American Board of Pediatrics (ABP) cautioning physicians about disseminating misinformation on COVID-19.
  • Previewing the Longitudinal Knowledge Assessment (LKATM), slated to launch in January 2022 in 12 specialties.

COVID-19 Check-in

Erica N. Johnson, MD Chair, Infectious Disease Board

ABIM and members of Governance continue to move forward through an unprecedented international health challenge. Erica N. Johnson, MD, Chair of the Infectious Disease Board, led a discussion about how COVID was affecting Specialty Board members and what they were seeing in their communities.

Dr. Johnson noted that she personally has not seen a significant third surge, but she noted there has been a strain on the healthcare system from admissions from non-COVID-related issues. She attributed the increase in part to delays in care because of COVID.

  • The majority of Specialty Board members reported seeing similar increases in hospitalizations for urgent health issues due to delays in treatment, with those from the Northeastern U.S. noting that COVID cases remain manageable.
  • Specialty Board members in other areas of the country (Southeast and West) reported COVID-19 surges and critical shortages of ICU beds, which has resulted in dire consequences.
  • Additionally, with hospitals in divert mode because of a COVID surge, patients are being sent to facilities in other states, sometimes hundreds of miles away.
  • In these areas of the country, elective surgeries are once again being postponed and physicians feel they are back to crisis levels.

Members all reported an increasing sense of burnout and compassion fatigue in the entire health care team. Some reported staffing shortages (e.g., medical assistants, phlebotomists, etc.), and others reported seeing compassion fatigue from members of the team caring for patients who have refused to be vaccinated and desperately call for help after they test positive.

Dr. Johnson suggested continuing this discussion about COVID-19 at the spring Specialty Board meeting so best practices and lessons learned could be shared.

As a reminder, because of impact the pandemic has had on board certified physicians, ABIM has extended MOC requirement deadlines for all physicians until 12/31/22, and until 12/31/23 for four specialties, including Infectious Disease.

 Infectious Disease Nominees for the Review Committee for Internal Medicine Chosen

Furman S. McDonald, MD, MPH, ABIM’s Senior Vice President for Academic and Medical Affairs, presented an overview of how ABIM and Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education (ACGME) and training programs work together, and outlined why the Infectious Disease Board was considering nominations to the ACGME.

  • Dr. McDonald explained that ABIM certifies individuals, but also sets important training requirements related to eligibility for certification, such as the total duration of training required for certain specialties, like infectious disease.
  • Heather Yun, MD, an emeritus member of the Infectious Disease Board, is completing her service as Vice Chair on the Review Committee, and ABIM was invited by ACGME to nominate two physicians certified in infectious disease to succeed Dr. Yun.
  • The Infectious Disease Board received a slate of nominations from the training community, and individual members interviewed all candidates. Member Wendy Armstrong, MD, led a session during the meeting to decide on two nominees to put forward for service on the Review Committee. The ACGME will choose one of the two proposed candidates, who will serve from July 1, 2022 – July 30, 2028.

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 Infectious Disease Board on ABIM’s progress in advancing DEI and becoming an actively anti-racist organization.

Much of this work has been guided by ABIM’s June 2020 Statement on Racial Justice, which states in part:

As a physician certifying organization, ABIM commits to analyze our programs for potential disparate impact on racial or ethnic minority candidates, be transparent about the results and address any inequity to which we may be contributing.” 

Specialty Board members received updates in a number of areas, including:

  • An analysis of race and ethnicity data to understand the current diplomate population.
  • Development of questions addressing health equity for the LKA. As this work will take some time, these types of questions will not be included in the LKA at launch, and once they do appear will be thoroughly pre-tested to ensure fairness.
  • Opportunities for collaboration with specialty societies and other stakeholder groups.

Specialty Board members shared their ideas for how ABIM can best move this work forward, as well as their personal experiences working within their own institutions.

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 (LKATM) Update

Alison Carey, Senior Director of Engagement and Digital Experience, gave the Specialty Board a preview of the Longitudinal Knowledge Assessment (LKA) Platform and updated them about how ABIM has engaged physicians throughout the development process to ensure it will meet their needs and provide a good user experience.

The engagement 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.

The Panel’s insights were enhanced through regular user-testing sessions, additional physician interviews, surveys and feedback gleaned from diplomate phone calls and emails. In addition, in August 2021, 26 physicians volunteered to serve as beta testers for the LKA platform to help identify bugs and any user experience issues; their feedback resulted in important improvements to the assessment platform prior to launch.

All of this physician feedback also helped generate a comprehensive LKA Physician Journey, outlining physician opportunities and challenges. For example, one challenge identified was that enrolling and participating at the beginning of a physician’s assessment due year is a departure from how many diplomates engage with MOC, and may not be intuitive. To address this challenge, ABIM will communicate clearly through multiple channels, including emails, social media, its website and more to ensure physicians are informed about this new process.

ABIM plans to continue engaging with the community beyond the LKA launch and make improvements based upon physician feedback. All ABIM Board 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 opens December 1, 2021, and the first batch of questions will be delivered January 4, 2022. Learn more about its features, benefits, and other important details at abim.org/lka.

 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 advancing DEI initiatives, better accommodations for nursing mothers, and the LKA launching in 2022.

A number of ideas emerged during this session such as ways to better communicate and engage with the community, possible program enhancements, and potential collaborations with other groups.

Similar sessions are being held at each ABIM Specialty Board meeting throughout the fall. The top ideas will be presented to the ABIM Council for further consideration of future implementation.

 In Closing

The Infectious Disease 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:

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