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New pilot programs present alternative pathways to improving practice, assessing knowledge

Have you tried the American Board of Ophthalmology’s newest pilots for improving practice performance and assessing ophthalmic knowledge? Two optional programs are designed to help diplomates develop customized improvement projects and another works to build and measure current ophthalmic knowledge. More than 1100 of your colleagues have enrolled in one or more of these programs.

Data-driven options for customizing improvement

Over the 10-year cycle, every diplomate completes one to two practice improvement activities—most commonly, Practice Improvement Modules (PIMs). Diplomate feedback indicates that sometimes the ABO’s standardized PIMs, based on 28 common ophthalmic diagnoses, are simply too general for diplomates engaged in subspecialty practice or unique practice settings. In response, the ABO added a self-directed project option to allow diplomates start-to-finish control in creating a performance measurement and improvement project. While both the PIMs and the self-directed option remain available, participants have told us that the addition of some structure or guideposts for project personalization would be helpful.

With this in mind, the Board hopes to strike the right balance with two new data-driven options for designing improvement projects appropriate for any type of practice:

Pilot #1: Using AAO IRIS® Registry data to reveal areas for improvement

Using the data supplied through the American Academy of Ophthalmology (AAO) IRIS Registry dashboard, diplomates can create customized quality improvement projects. Diplomates are invited to design a practice improvement activity based on the 15 clinical quality measures and 6 quality improvement measures reported monthly to participants of the IRIS Registry. Diplomates can use the monthly reports to identify areas for improvement, set specific goals for each measure, outline the steps (changes in care delivery processes) to achieve these goals, and evaluate success by analyzing the subsequent monthly performance reports. Click here to request more information.

Pilot #2: Letting Patient Experience of Care Survey responses guide development

The ABO’s free Patient Experience of Care (PEC) Survey allows diplomates to obtain feedback directly from patients and use this information to develop a quality improvement project. Participants ask 45 patients to complete a 15-question survey, which they can return to the Board via phone, mail, or internet. Once the results are in, diplomates use the report to identify two or three areas for improvement, set specific improvement goals for each, and evaluate achievement of their goals by having 45 additional patients complete the survey at a later date. Click here to request more information.

Knowledge assessment made simple

Just as there are different ways of learning, there are different methods for assessing knowledge. With the goal of developing a suitable alternative to the end-of-cycle closed-book examination, the Board instituted the Quarterly Questions pilot program earlier this year. If successful, the Board hopes to transition diplomates to a more current and convenient method for demonstrating continuous learning.

Pilot #3: Assessing practice knowledge over time with Quarterly Questions

Currently optional for all diplomates, the Quarterly Questions pilot uses a longitudinal assessment model where a pass/fail decision is made on diplomate performance over time. The 50-question 2017 pilot focuses on fundamental knowledge relevant to the everyday practice of ophthalmology and the application of knowledge from five journal articles. Aside from reading journal articles selected by each diplomate from a listing of 15 recent publications identified by your peers, answering each one-minute question requires no advance preparation. Participants receive instant performance feedback along with detailed explanations and supporting references for each answer. Along the way, diplomates can track their performance in relation to the aggregate score of the diplomate community. Diplomates can participate in the Quarterly Questions pilot on a computer, tablet, or mobile device—and may stop and start the program at their convenience. Click here to request more information.


For more information about the ABO’s current pilot programs and activities, contact the Board Office at 610-664-1175 or

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