* NOTABLE MEETINGS It had to happen: Internet Healthcare 2000, The First Annual Internet Healthcare Conference, was held April 25 and 26 in New York City. None other than George Lundberg, MD, editor-in-chief, Medscape, was the keynote speaker at what was billed as a forum for health care professionals in private practice, government, and education. The purpose was to examine the state of Internet health care in an exchange with Internet industry leaders, with an eye toward facilitating improvements for the future. Some of the Internet-specific issues covered included The Empowered Patient: Partner in Care or Threat to the Traditional Health Care Players; and Disease-Specific Communities Online: A Growing Alternative to Traditional Face-to-Face Support Groups.
For those used to seeing commercial support from pharmaceutical companies, the co-underwriters for IH 2000 had not a traditional health care industry name among them: RXCentric, Softwatch, CyberDialogue, FamilyMeds.com, US Medical Network, InteliHealth, Cysive, and Ernst & Young. (For more on Internet health care conferences, see page 9.)
The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) tried something new at its 48th Annual Meeting, held May 20 to 24 at the Moscone Center in San Francisco: an ethics seminar with anonymous interactive voting, using audience polling devices. "Solving the Dilemmas--So You Thought You Were Doing the Right Thing" presented tough day-to-day ethical issues that obstetrician/gynecologists face in practice, ranging from what to do with twin/twin transfusion where saving one might lose the other twin, to dealing with the drug rep who will give you $1,000 per patient to hand out materials. You get to vote (anonymously) and instantly see how your colleagues voted and then discuss the "right" thing to do with experts in the area. The sessions were run by Joanna M. Cain, MD, of the Hershey Medical Center in Pennsylvania and Watson A. Bowes, Jr., MD, of the University of North Carolina.
* WEB NOTES Online CME will come on strong, according to Charles Crawford, vice president of the multimedia medical education company I.C. Axon, speaking at the Distributed Medical Intelligence Conference held March 12 to 14 in Crested Butte, Colo. The conference is sponsored by East Carolina University's Telemedicine Center. Citing research done through governmental, professional, academic, media and corporate sources, Crawford concluded that physician demand for online CME and the businesses that provide these services will continue to grow because of improvements in content, convenience, and evolving technology and delivery systems.
Crawford cited a survey conducted by I.C. Axon at the 1999 Alliance for Continuing Medical Education conference in which 87 percent of CME professionals agreed that the Internet would be an excellent medium for CME. The finding is supported by a Medical Marketing and Media study concluding that of the doctors who do take advantage of online CME, most spend an hour or less on each session, compared to daylong courses and conferences. It is challenged, however, by the MM Physician Preferences Survey, which showed a decrease in physician usage of the Web for CME. (See January/February 2000 issue or read the story at www.meetingsnet.com/mm/0200/cvrstory.asp.)
Crawford concluded that even more comprehensive resources for applied medical knowledge will become available as traditional CME providers partner with online counterparts. (For more about those partnerships, see page 34.)
* MEDICAL NOTES If women's health is a discipline, can men's health be far behind? New research based on a survey commissioned by The Commonwealth Fund shows that an alarming portion of American men fail to get the medical care they need to stay in good health."This research dramatizes the need for expanded efforts to address men's special health needs," said Karen Davis, president of The Commonwealth Fund. "Change will require the combined efforts of physicians, health plans, and policymakers. Targeted educational programs can help promote preventive care and healthy behavior," Davis stated.