Focused Practice Improvement Activities Help Many Diplomates Provide Better Patient Care

By Erik J. Stratman*

The ABD is constantly seeking ways to make the Continuing Certification Program (CCP) requirements more relevant to your practice and your patients. Currently, you can complete all your continuing certification requirements by participating in CertLink.

That is, all except one.

Every five years, each of us diplomates is required to complete a focused practice improvement activity (fPI). These activities impact or affirm the quality of care we all deliver. There is no additional cost if you choose activities provided by the ABD. The library of activities is available when you log into your profile.

Based on critiques that diplomates provide when they complete each fPI, the program is popular. We’re happy to report that 99 percent of diplomates say their self-selected modules were relevant to their practice and 98 percent say that they would recommend the module to a dermatology colleague. 

While most modules help to affirm the great care provided by the dermatologist, around 20% of dermatologists report that the modules help them change how they manage their patient population for the better as a result of the activity. And, up to a third of dermatologists said a patient experienced an improved outcome because of something the diplomate learned when completing the project.            

Whether it is how you order monitoring bloodwork for isotretinoin or how you manage anticoagulation therapies before surgery, these modules are designed to help you look critically at certain diagnostic or care strategies in your practice. (See which modules are most popular here.)

Here’s how it works: After reading the brief paragraphs summarizing the latest, potentially practice-changing information, you will typically select and review up to five relevant patient charts and answer two- to five key questions about the care you delivered. Nearly all of these questions require simple “yes” or “no” answers. If you confirm that all the care you delivered meets the suggested standard, then no further measurement is needed to satisfy your practice improvement requirement.  You are done!

If you discover areas for improvement, you simply employ the changes in practice and remeasure your results later for additional patients you encounter after making the practice change -- before the end of your CCP cycle.  This program helps us all take simple steps toward real practice improvement.

This is not a ‘one-size-fits-all’ program.  We know that our dermatology practices are highly variable in the types of patients we all manage. Therefore, we have expanded and updated the fPI module library at the ABD, bringing the number of modules to more than 85.  This year, we have already added 17 more modules, including new activities in cosmetics, dermatologic surgery, and dermatopathology.  And we are continuing to expand the number of choices.

The modules are written by groups of diplomate volunteers from various subspecialties who have background and interest in dermatology quality improvement. To further expand the relevance of our fPI program, we have invited leaders from more than 25 dermatology specialty organizations to provide us with their ideas for new relevant modules and their thoughts on what key gaps exist in dermatologists’ knowledge and skills. We think this will be important as we create CertLink articles and additional fPI modules in the future. We believe this gap analysis will help diplomates stay on the cutting edge of dermatologic high-quality care.

Check out this link if you want to know what activities have been the most popular, the newest to be added, or have been discontinued because the standards of care have changed.

Please let us know if you have any questions.


*Erik J. Stratman, MD, is the ABD’s Associate Executive Director for Continuous Program Improvement and Research, as of July 1, 2023. He has been an ABD volunteer for nearly 20 years, as an item writer in medical dermatology and general dermatology. He was a member of the ABD Board of Directors from 2012-2020, serving as Board President in 2019. He launched and led the focused Practice Improvement workgroup from 2016-2018 and was instrumental in implementing the CertLink pilot.

Dr. Stratman also practices dermatology for the Marshfield Clinic Health System in Marshfield, WI. He is system-wide chairman of Dermatology, Dermatology Residency Program Director, and System Medical Director of Continuing Medical Education and Continuing Certification. He is a clinical professor in the Department of Dermatology at the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health.

He is certified in general dermatology and in micrographic dermatologic surgery (MDS) and participates in the ABD’s continuing certification program.

















































Choose from 85+ activities, including new options focused on cosmetic dermatology, dermatologic surgery, and dermatopathology.