- CME NOTES
Coding: Creative can be criminal. It is common practice for many medical associations to offer physicians courses on using the American Medical Association's Current Procedural Terminology, a list of descriptive terms and codes used to report medical services and procedures performed by physicians. The purpose of these courses is to teach physicians to code accurately, not “creatively.” Nonetheless, a newly released report from the General Accounting Office suggests that CME providers should pay careful attention to the content of such courses.
Between July 2000 and June 2001, the GAO sent investigators to coding CME courses sponsored by the Medical Society of the District of Columbia and the American Academy of Physician Assistants. In each case, the investigators found, according to the report, that the courses “provided certain advice that…if followed could result in violations of criminal and civil statutes.”
Coding course consultants who advocate not reporting insurance overpayments, creating documentation to bill for services not actually performed, or limiting services to patients with low-paying health insurance coverage (such as Medicaid) are, in other words, encouraging physicians to break the law.
Finding expert speakers in the field of alternative/complementary medicine can be difficult. How do you judge a's credentials? A New York City — based publication, Traditional Chinese Medicine World, has named the winners of its “Best of the West 2000” survey of U.S. colleges of Oriental and traditional Chinese medicine in its current summer edition. The overall winners were the American College of Traditional Chinese Medicine, San Francisco; the Oregon College of Oriental Medicine, Portland, Ore.; and the Texas College of Traditional Chinese Medicine, Austin, Texas. Schools with the best were the American Academy of Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine, Minneapolis, Minn.; the International Institute of Chinese Medicine, Santa Fe, N.M.; and the National College of Oriental Medicine, Orlando.
- ASSOCIATION NOTE
Organizations underwritten by pharma firms — it's a trend in associations that warrants the attention of the CME community. A recent example: There is a new organization of endocrinologists, called the Council for the Advancement of Diabetes Research and Education (CADRE). There is nothing inherently wrong with CADRE; it began life as the result of a survey of endocrinologists who agreed that it would be a good idea to re-evaluate current diabetes therapies. CADRE is underwritten by joint unrestricted educational grants, and it sponsors CME programs for physicians in accordance with the Accreditation Council for Continuing Medical Education guidelines. Nonetheless, it seems important to note that the unrestricted grants come from just two firms: Aventis Pharmaceuticals Inc. and Pfizer Inc., each of which markets diabetes therapies.
- MEDICAL NOTE
Lose the pizza Tired of watching pharmaceutical company detailers lug pizzas and soft drinks to their offices, the doctors of the Queen City Physicians medical group in Cincinnati now require reps to pay for appointments with doctors — a 10 minute appointment is $65. Should this become a trend, will medical conference organizers be able to turn this into an opportunity to offer their own conventions as low-cost alternatives for reaching physicians?
- NOTABLE MEETING
It had to happen: The “First World Congress on Men's Health” will be held November 2 to 4 in Vienna. The meeting is being organized by the Men's Health Initiative, Institute of Social Medicine, and the Center of Advanced Medical Education and Health Communication, both divisions of the University of Vienna Medical School, in cooperation with the city's Municipal Health Planning Department and the United Nations. Vienna was chosen, in part, because the world's first study of men's health, the Vienna Men's Health Report, was initiated by Vienna under the WHO project “Healthy Cities.” For more information, visit www.healthandage.com/html/min/wcmh2001/index.htm.
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