Optimism is Not my strong suit, but in putting together this issue I couldn't help but notice that there's a lot of good news for the CME and medical meetings community. Here are the highlights:

  • Despite scary predictions to the contrary, most pharma companies plan to either increase or maintain their CME funding levels this year, according to a study conducted by Cutting Edge Information. (See page 9.)

  • Attendance at medical meetings has grown 14 percent in 2006 compared to five years ago, according to a report conducted by the Healthcare Convention and Exhibitors Association. See page 22 to find out how several meetings have drawn record attendance.

  • New CME methods, such as Internet point-of-care and performance improvement, are gaining popularity with docs, according to our annual survey. And, physicians earned more CME credits on average last year than they did the year before. (See page 16.)

That's some of the good news. Of course, there's plenty of not-so-good news. The Accreditation Council for CME received an inquiry letter from the Senate Finance Committee as part of the ongoing probe into pharmaceutical companies' funding practices. Although a committee aide underscores that the letter should not be taken as evidence of wrongdoing (see page 8), I believe — as I've said here before — that the CME community needs to be much more proactive in asserting the value of its education. This is even more important now, given that the Democrat-controlled Congress aims to focus on cutting healthcare costs and expanding access to care. This increased scrutiny provides an opportunity for the profession to demonstrate how CME aligns with the government's goals.

Advocating for CME can also help counter the persistently negative media portrayals. For instance, a front-page Wall Street Journal article on December 13, “Drug Firm's Cash Sways Debate Over Test for Pregnant Women,” presented a scathing picture of CME providers and physicians as pharma puppets. On the other hand, a New York Times editorial on December 15, “High-Speed Colonoscopies,” spotlighted an example of physicians tracking and then improving their skills. That editorial reinforced my theory that the general media would be interested in hearing from you about activities that change physician behavior.

As you struggle to implement the new accreditation criteria and deal with who knows what other tumultuous changes 2007 will bring, remember that your hard work — although sometimes misunderstood, disparaged, or unrecognized — contributes to improving the treatment of patients. And that's the most important good news of all.

Welcome and Farewell

I am delighted to welcome Medical Meetings' new senior writer, Dave Kovaleski, a 14-year journalism veteran. As a writer for MM's sister magazines, Corporate Meetings & Incentives and Association Meetings for the past four years, Dave has gained an expertise in covering both the medical association and pharmaceutical meetings industries. Now, he's excited about diving into the world of CME.

On a bittersweet note, MM's executive editor extraordinaire, Sue Pelletier, has been promoted to editor of Association Meetings magazine. I'm thrilled that she has such a fantastic opportunity, but I'll miss her writing flair, expertise, humor, and dedication to CME. Read her farewell Second Opinion on page 56.