Practice Quality Improvement Project (PQI) Overview 

To maintain certification, ABTS Diplomates must complete at least one practice quality improvement (PQI) project within 2 years prior to their 5-year and 10-year Milestones for fulfillment of MOC Part IV requirements. There are several pathways by which you may meet these requirements: Individual, Group or Institutional PQI. There are specific requirements you must fulfill in order to receive MOC Part IV credit so please read carefully. MOC is a constantly changing process and the ABTS is adapting and conforming to standards facing all Boards. However, there is increased attention to make MOC relevant to your practice by focusing on practical activities to assess and improve clinical processes and outcomes.

I. Welcome and Background 

American medicine is under increasing societal pressure to improve the quality, value, and safety of the care that we deliver. The development of the concept of Maintenance of Certification (MOC) by the American Board of Medical Specialties (ABMS), and the recent adoption of Standards for Maintenance of Certification 2015 by the ABMS are manifestations of this societal interest that physicians engage in ongoing self-assessment and lifelong learning. The intent of the ABTS MOC Program is to provide ABTS Diplomates with a robust mechanism for continuous professional development and practice quality improvement (PQI). The PQI initiative is a framework to facilitate improvement of thoracic surgical care and/or its delivery as an individual or as a group. Part IV of MOC encourages and provides a vehicle for cardiothoracic surgeons to demonstrate their engagement in improving the care of the cardiothoracic surgery patient.

The ABTS MOC Part IV program allows multiple pathways for Diplomates to meet the requirements set forth by the ABMS. These include activities at the individual surgeon, individual practice, institutional, or regional collaborative level. It is anticipated that many institutionally mandated quality improvement initiatives will also qualify for MOC Part IV. The intent of the ABTS MOC Part IV program is to encourage our Diplomates to take part in a meaningful and valuable exercise that will benefit both the Diplomates and their patients by improving the quality, value, and safety of the care that is delivered.

II. Learning about PQI  
Practice quality improvement (PQI) efforts are intended to engage Diplomates in the application of quality improvement principles to improve important aspects of their practice. The Institute of Medicine discusses 6 aims for changing the healthcare system that include a safer, more timely, more efficient, more effective, more patient centered, and more equitable care provided in the framework for PQI projects. The intent of the ABTS is to recognize a variety of PQI projects directed toward achieving one or more of these goals as qualifying for the MOC Part IV requirement.

III. Choices of PQI Participation Pathways 

To allow PQI opportunities that best suit Diplomates' particular needs and practice situations, the ABTS will recognize three different pathways for participation in Part IV of MOC: Individual PQI, Group PQI, Institutional/Organizational PQI.

IV. PQI Participation Requirements  Diplomates must have completed at least one PQI project in the previous 2 years at both the 5-year and 10-year Milestones during their MOC cycle.

Each PQI project includes certain required elements, which are outlined below. Documentation and record-keeping are also important components. Under usual circumstances, these documents will not be submitted to the ABTS. However, because a percentage of MOC participants will be audited each year, each Diplomate must retain all source documentation for each PQI project in case he or she is selected for an audit. These records include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • Title of project
    • Initial measurements made
    • Data analysis performed and conclusions reached
    • Action plans for practice improvements implemented
    • Result of repeat measurements and analysis
  • Paragraph of narrative self-reflection on the impact of the project, written after completion
V. PQI and the PDSA Process 
PDSA stands for “Plan – Do – Study – Act,” a 4-step process commonly used for continuous quality improvement. This simple, but powerful, tool may serve as the basis for an action-oriented repeating process by linking multiple PDSA cycles repeated in sequence. An initial cycle is performed to obtain baseline data, followed by subsequent cycles performed to assess the effects of the implemented quality improvement initiatives. PQI participants should be familiar with this process.

a. PLAN 
An area of your practice judged to be in need of improvement is identified, and a measure is devised to assess the degree of need. A plan is developed to implement the measure and obtain the required data. Finally, a target or goal for the measure to be reached is set.

b. DO 
Your plan is set in motion, and data are collected.

You determine how well your measure compared to the desired goal. Root causes for lacking goal achievement are explored.

d. ACT 
 You consider what can be done to address the root causes and develop an improvement plan to implement in the next PDSA cycle.

The ABTS would like to thank the American Board of Radiology, whose MOC format was used in part to create our current web site.