The second annual eHealthcare Leadership Awards have been announced by eHealthcare Strategy & Trends Inc., an Internet-based publication. More than 700 entries were received from a wide range of health care organizations, online health companies, pharmaceutical firms, and business improvement/vendor sites. The three top award winners in the category of best overall health care association/professional society Web site are



Factors considered in the award include delivery of strong health content, interactivity, medical care support, integration with the organization's operations, as well as strength of Web design and the ease of navigation.

Virtual Clinical Trials

A partnership between a Web collaboration software firm (Lexington, Mass.-based Centra) and a clinical trials collaboration specialist, ePharmaLearning (ePL), is being promoted to pharmaceutical firms as a way to avoid travel expenses. The companies say that attendance at geographically dispersed clinical trials not only costs pharmaceutical firms millions in travel expenses, but also pulls physician investigators away from daily patient care, and internal teams away from project responsibilities. Travel costs notwithstanding, the most intriguing argument in favor of this new service is its ability to document activity. ClinicalCollaborator, ePL's product, enables pharmaceutical professionals to share up-to-the-minute information on clinical trials, regulatory issues, and project reviews while documenting the entire process through Centra's record and playback capabilities. Centra's contribution is its thin-client Web collaboration platform, called CentraOne. (A thin-client server is one where the software resides on a central computer and “serves” it to PCs on a network.)

CentraOne-based products include interactive Web meetings, virtual classrooms, and large-scale conferences that are universally accessible to users through firewalls and proxy servers, and deliver IP (Internet-based) audio conferencing, streaming video, application sharing, and dynamic multimedia over low-bandwidth network connections through a standard browser interface. To learn more, visit www.epharmalearning.com and www.centra.com.

HealthStream Revenues Soar

Nashville-based online CME provider HealthStream released some impressive year-end numbers. Revenues for 2001 were approximately $13.5 million, up 40 percent over 2000, and monthly operating cash consumption (“the burn,” as dot com aficionados — if there are any left — call it) has decreased by 66 percent since January 2001.

There are now approximately 500 hospital facilities using the company's Healthcare Learning Center application service provider-based (ASP) system, including Stanford Health System in California; Greenville Hospital System in South Carolina; the University of Utah Hospitals and Clinics; Boston Medical Center; United States Air Force Academy — 10th Medical Group, in Colorado; and Emerson Hospital, Concord, Mass.

About 300,000 health care professionals now use the ASP. Concurrent with the growth of health care facilities, the rate of course completions by both clinical and nonclinical employees grew 910 percent during 2001; approximately 10,200 courses were completed in the month of December 2000, while approximately 103,000 were completed in December 2001. Note that these figures are for entire hospital staff, not just physicians.

Dave's Picks

I'm going to stick my neck out and say that the American Society for Training and Development Web site is in fact the most comprehensive place on the Internet to learn about every conceivable aspect of online learning. It is not specific to health care education, but it has everything else at www.astd.org.

The University of South Florida uses a straight-out hard sell to get physicians to try its online CME courses. The presentation won't win any design awards, and the message is as subtle as a sledge hammer, but it looks like a winner from here. See it at http://info.bisk.com/index.asp?Source=10f03

Nice design and easy navigation are among the features that recommend The Johns Hopkins University Office of Continuing Medical Education site. The prominently displayed CME survey link is something more online providers ought to have. See it at www.med.jhu.edu/cme/.