Transforming physician certification to support physician self-motivation and capacity to improve quality and safety

Robert Phillips, James Kennedy, Carlos Jaén, Keith Stelter, James Puffer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Scopus citations


Physician certification boards are an intrinsic part of medical professionalism, and the public is their key stakeholder. A decade ago, the 24 boards of the American Board of Medical Specialties committed to moving beyond the summative evaluation of physicians to a process of continuously evaluating and improving the care they deliver. The American Board of Family Medicine (ABFM) has been a leader in this change and is making strategic investments in the next major evolution of continuous certification. Physicians are frustrated with the pace of change, inability to reliably assess and change their practices, and the perceived risk to both income and professional autonomy. Certifying boards are natural targets for that frustration. Certifying boards have an opportunity to support physicians in improving the quality and safety of healthcare and appeal to physicians' intrinsic motivation for doing so. The ABFM is not retreating from that challenge but is instead listening carefully to family physicians and making strategic investments to evolve. The ABFM is the first certifying board to launch a registry that is designed to support physician capacity for quality assessment, improvement, data-reporting requirements, and population management. It also supports more effective measure development and research. The ABFM aims to help physicians maintain the privilege of self-governance by helping them continuously earn it.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)162-169
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Enterprise Transformation
Issue number3-4
StatePublished - Oct 1 2016


  • certification
  • performance measurement
  • professionalism
  • quality improvement

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Control and Systems Engineering
  • Information Systems
  • Organizational Behavior and Human Resource Management
  • Management Science and Operations Research
  • Information Systems and Management


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