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█ CME NOTES

The American Academy of HIV Medicine has established criteria defining what it means to be a specialist treating individuals with HIV/AIDS. This is among the first attempts to establish a national yardstick by which to measure the quality of care being provided to individuals with AIDS. The Academy's definition emphasizes that the baseline criteria for an HIV specialist is the ability to demonstrate continuous professional development in the area of HIV treatment. This differs from other organizations' definitions that require only that an arbitrary number of patients are seen or units of continuing education are completed. An HIV specialist must take part in ongoing medical education programs. Those earning fewer than 30 CME credits annually must also participate in an HIV medicine competency maintenance exam. The Academy believes this criterion establishes “a gold standard” by which to measure the competence of an HIV/AIDS specialist. The certification will be available to licensed physicians, nurse practitioners, physician assistants, and doctors of pharmacology.

Not another Internet study! According to a new study by WebSurveyMD.com of 257 family practitioners, general practitioners, and internists, physicians are still lagging behind the rest of the world in making use of the Internet. For example, only 13 percent of respondents had actually registered at any Web site for medical professionals. One-third or fewer of those surveyed were interested in such online activities as communicating with patients, consulting with colleagues, participating in clinical trials, or filing patient insurance claims. On the other hand, 45 percent said they used the Internet to obtain CME. Interestingly, age was not a factor in the overall lack of enthusiasm for online medical services of any sort. In fact, “interest in many of these applications is even lower among physicians who rate themselves as highly Internet-savvy,” according to the report. WebSurveyMD.com is a service of Ziment, a New York City-based market research firm.

█ MEETING NOTES

Notable meeting: For its ninth annual meeting, held in Washington, D.C., in June, the Conference on Women's Health and Gender-Based Medicine introduced a new wrinkle. On the final day of the conference, attendees participated in a luncheon workshop entitled “How to Lobby Effectively on Capitol Hill for Women's Health Research.” Following the workshop, the conference organizers arranged appointments for attendees to visit their congressperson's office on Capitol Hill, where they tried out their newly learned lobbying skills.

The conference is jointly sponsored by the University of South Florida College of Medicine and the Journal of Women's Health & Gender-Based Medicine, which is published by Mary Ann Leibert Inc.

█ MEDICAL NOTES

A new report from CenterWatch, a Boston-based newsletter covering the clinical trials industry, predicts that by 2005 there will not be enough clinical investigators to handle the growing number of drugs in clinical trials. The report estimates that there may be as much as a 15 percent investigator shortfall for industry-sponsored research studies. This shortage will be one of several factors that will challenge pharmaceutical industry productivity in the coming decade.

“Our research and analysis is a wake-up call for research professionals and the investment community,” said Steve Zisson, managing editor of CenterWatch. “Advances from discovery technologies, such as pharmacogenomics and combinatorial chemistry, are rapidly increasing the rate of growth in drug pipelines. Given the current infrastructure of clinical trial investigators in the U.S., sponsors will face a major bottleneck due to difficulties finding trained professionals to conduct their clinical trials in the future. This in turn may limit the number of new medical therapies that will enter the marketplace.”

Preliminary strategies to address this pending shortfall are presented in the newsletter.

For more information, contact Steve Zisson at (617) 856-5950 or call (617) 856-5943 to order a copy of this report. CenterWatch is a subsidiary of the Medical Economics Company.