The American Academy of Family Physicians, Leawood, Kan., did something a little different this year with its eight-year-old Annual Clinical Focus educational initiative — it was done entirely through video-streaming on the Web. In previous years, it had been more of a multimedia, year-long event involving mainly print enduring materials mixed with some live courses and a few Web activities, says Norman Kahn Jr., MD, AAFP's vice president, science and education.

This year's program, which focuses on medical genomics, is way further out on the cutting edge than the usual ACF topics, says Kahn, and using state-of-the-art technology just made sense. It's the first time the organization has decided to help its members move into a rapidly evolving topic of the future before the members even know what they need to know. “Usually, we could ask them what they need to learn and they could tell us during a needs-assessment process. They couldn't do that with genomics because it's not part of their practice yet,” he says.

The second reason was purely practical: “We received virtually no pharmaceutical industry support for this one,” says Kahn. The commercial support came primarily from federal agencies like the National Human Genome Research Institute and the Maternal and Child Health Bureau, with additional support from foundations including the Susan Komen Breast Cancer Foundation. Because the feds have to give a lot of their support through in-kind contributions, “They gave us a lot of time at the FDA studios, including producers and all the TV equipment,” says Kahn.

Each of the programs is hosted by Nancy Stevens, MD, associate professor of family medicine at the University of Washington, Seattle. Stevens says she presents experts, vignettes, patients, and other physicians who lead the viewer through a very practical orientation of the genome topic, “so you can actually learn something about genomics you can use in your practice the next day.” Each program ends with a Web tour that takes clinicians to sites where they can learn more, and also shows them prescreened sites that they can use to direct their patients to reliable information aimed more at nonclinicians. The streaming videos can be viewed by the public, and physicians can earn CME credits for participating.

“We're getting positive feedback, but we're not getting as much of it as we have in the past,” says Kahn. He adds that the focus for the next two years — child and adolescent care, and management of chronic diseases — will likely garner more in the way of commercial support, so AAFP will likely add back in the other media for future ACFs. But, he adds, “We'll continue to take the best of what we've been able to do on the Web into future ACFs.”