Show Me the Evidence AAFP CALLS FOR EVIDENCE-BASED CME Responding to concerns expressed by the Federation of State Medical Boards about CME courses that teach alternative therapies, the American Academy of Family Physicians has proposed adding a new requirement to its criteria for approving CME activities for proscribed credit. If approved, course content will have to meet international standards for evidence-based medicine; or (as in current criteria), activities must address usual and customary medical practice.

With the proposed criteria, the "state medical boards can have confidence in proscribed credits," says Norman Kahn Jr., MD, vice president, education and science with the Leawood, Kan.-based AAFP.

The recommended rules will also make it easier for the AAFP to evaluate course applications. Of the approximately 9,000 courses per year that the AAFP reviews, only about 100 are about complementary therapies, says Kahn, but that small number "demand a tremendous amount of energy." In fewer than half the cases, applicants "found ways to word their applications so that it appeared they might be teaching, but in reality, they were promoting the use of unproven therapies, and in some cases, promoting proprietary products or their own alternative practices," says Kahn. "We call that gaming the system." The new system will solve that problem, he says.

Kahn clarifies that the AAFP is not "passing judgment" on courses that teach physicians about alternative therapies. Such courses are eligible for elective credit, and also for proscribed credit, if the provider uses an evidence-based approach, "as long as they are not talking about dangerous practices. That won't get any credit."

While many providers talk about evidence-based medicine, says Bruce Bellande, PhD, executive director, Alliance for CME, the AAFP is the first organization, as far as he knows, that has created a policy to incorporate it into CME. Calling the step a "bold move," Bellande also expresses reservations. Because CME is on the cutting edge of medical education, he says, providers might want to offer courses on treatments that are not yet evidence-based. He is also concerned that providers will have to expend a lot of time and energy in finding documentation to show that course content is evidence-based.

There are many definitions of evidence-based medicine, but, simply put, it is medicine predicated on sound, scientific evidence and well-designed studies, rather than on anecdotal reports or unproven theories.There are a variety of internationally accepted resources about EBM, says Kahn, and the AAFP is developing a list of definitions and resources to help providers find the documentation they need.

The board of directors has unanimously approved the proposal, says Kahn, which next goes before the congress of delegates. If the congress approves it, the AAFP will convene a national comment period and pilot the proposal with selected chapters. If all goes well, the new criteria will be made official in April.

Although the first organization to take this step, the AAFP is working closely with the other national accreditation agencies, the American Osteopathic Association, and the Accreditation Council for CME, as well as with the American Medical Association, which awards CME credits. The AOA has not yet issued its comment on the proposal. As for the ACCME, "The AAFP efforts are completely in parallel with our philosophy," says Murray Kopelow, MD, ACCME executive director. "The ACCME looks forward to the positive impact their leadership will have on the entire system." --Tamar Hosansky

Research, Reviews CME DATA GOES ONLINE Looking for an abstract from the Alliance for CME's annual conference? The latest literature in CE? Your search is over. The University of Toronto has launched a searchable, online version of the Research and Development Resource Base in CME.

The database, located at www.cme.utoronto.ca/rdrb, contains more than 8,000 references to continuing health professional education literature. Abstracts from the Alliance and the Society for Academic CME conferences are online. Commercial publishers' abstracts are not included, due to copyright restrictions.

The site also features a What's New? section where you can share useful citations with your colleagues. When we checked, for example, we found a notice about John Parboosingh, MD's recent review of Reflection in Learning and Professional Development: Theory and Practice, edited by Jennifer Moon. The book will be of interest to medical educators, Parboosingh informs site visitors. --Tamar Hosansky

prize winner Congrats! The happy winner of MM 's 2000 M&D (Merit & Distinction) Awards raffle is Johanne Arguin, senior meeting planner, Bristol-Myers Squibb, Montreal. The winner's name was drawn randomly from a pool of readers who submitted ballots naming their favorite properties. (M&D award winners were announced in the July/August issue; watch for more detailed information about them in the January/February 2001 issue.) Arguin won a five-night stay for two at a choice of four Outrigger Hotels & Resorts in Hawaii. Aloha!

Activist Alert PROTESTERS TARGET ANIMAL GENETICS CONFERENCE The tip came from a Web site--animal rights activists were organizing protests at the International Society of Animal Genetics meeting in Minneapolis. Local and state police, the FBI, the hotel and CVB community, and the meeting organizers swung into action, working together to prepare for a safe meeting. Their planning and cooperation paid off. While there were demonstrations--and arrests--the July conference, held at the Hyatt Regency, was not disrupted, and no attendees reported being hurt or harassed. Here's how they did it:

* Attendee housing was consolidated into one hotel, the Hyatt, rather than three hotels, as originally planned.

* The society sent pre-registrants a letter advising them of the possible demonstrations. No one canceled, according to meeting chairman Lawrence B. Schook, PhD, director, Food Animal Biotechnology Center, College of Veterinary Medicine, University of Minnesota. In fact, the conference, which attracted about 700 delegates, had a record number of walk-in registrations, he says.

* At the Hyatt, outside vendors had to pass through several extra checkpoints.

* When they registered, attendees were given a book mark, printed with safety tips, such as: Don't walk outside with your badge on. The hotel security phone number was also included and attendees were instructed to report anyone suspicious.

* Name badges were textured, so they could not easily be forged.

* Vigilance on the part of the meeting staff played a key role. When a walk-in registrant gave the staffer an uncomfortable feeling, she checked his phone numbers and discovered that they had both been disconnected. She reported him, and when he saw security moving in, he took off.

* Schook set up a separate press registration area and press room. His goal was to ensure that activists posing as reporters did not have access to the delegates, but he also wanted to facilitate press coverage and keep the meeting open.

Dialogue, Not Violence Because of the activists' threats of violence, "a lot of issues out there are suppressed," Schook says. "Some concerns should be discussed in public forums. We want to have dialogue, but the threat of violence isn't dialogue."

Meanwhile, Back at the IACVB About seven blocks away from the demonstrations, the International Association of Convention and Visitor Bureaus had convened its annual conference. And meeting organizers decided their attendees should be apprised of the situation as well. Informing attendees helps to protect the organization from liability, says Elaine Fellin, CMP, director of professional development, IACVB.

Registration staff gave attendees a letter from the Greater Minneapolis Convention & Visitors Association, advising them of the demonstrations. Greg Ortale, president and CEO of the Min-neapolis CVA, also gave an update at the opening ceremony. Because of his calm, cool demeanor, says Barbara Brady, IACVB director of marketing and communications, the demonstrations were a "non-event" for attendees.

Concierges at the Marriott City Center, the meeting site, steered attendees away from the areas where protesters were, recommending restaurants in other parts of the city. --Tamar Hosansky

Mission Possible CIC GREEN LIGHTS APEX The Convention Industry Council Board in August unanimously approved the Accepted Practices Exchange initiative as a function of the CIC, complete with its own commission, panels, and timelines. The APEX initiative aims to establish best practices for the meeting industry.The CIC represents 26 meeting industry groups.

"This has been such a passion for me," says Mickey Schaefer, CAE, chair of the APEX Commission, and vice president, membership, meetings and conventions and administration, American Academy of Family Physicians. "I've been in this business for 27 years and we're still working the same way we did when I started. It's time for all of us to embrace this."

APEX received a big vote of confidence in January, when the Professional Convention Management Association Foundation pledged $30,000 a year for five years. Schaefer says that since then several convention centers and CVBs, which she declined to name, have given funding pledges.

The first meeting of the APEX Commission was scheduled for September 12. Volunteer members from nine industry segments--housing, transportation, facilities management, service contractors, convention bureaus, food and beverage services, convention/meeting management, exhibition management, and convention services--will be appointed by the CIC board. "The commission members will be senior to senior vice president level, says Schaefer. Because of their status, members will help to get buy-in from the industry, she says.

Schaefer says terminology and history/post-event reports are the first areas APEX will tackle, with a target completion date of the end of 2001. "We figured that giving up our pet names for things like podium versus lectern is not that big a deal," Schaefer quips. Best practices for meeting and site profiles, resume and work orders, and RFPs are scheduled to be completed by the end of 2002; and, "with a big knock on wood," says Schaefer, housing and contracts by the end of 2003.

"Will we have it all?" asks Schaefer. "Probably not, but even if we get half of it accomplished, the industry will be better for it."

Lean and Linked ASAE CHALLENGES CONVENTIONAL WISDOM The new association is "lean, linked, electronic, and malleable." So said Tom Peters, the guru of gurus of marketing and management, and opening speaker at the record-breaking 80th Annual Meeting of the American Society of Association Executives, held August 12 through 15 in Orlando. "There's nothing more important than listening to your customers," he said, adding that associations must break free of conventional wisdom in order to survive. The convention drew 6,331 delegates.

Other ASAE Annual Meeting Highlights: *Global Firsts: The annual meeting played host to the Sixth World Congress of Association Executives, which drew 341 attendees from 21 countries. It was the first time the World Congress was held in the U.S. Another first: a delegation from Beijing attended; ASAE has forged a dialogue with them to develop collaborations in the future.

*Building Boom: Via a virtual tour, attendees got a sneak peek at the Orange County Convention Center's expansion plans. Slated for a fall 2003 completion, the $748 million expansion will add one million square feet of exhibition space, for a total of 2.1 million. The expansion is spurring more hotel development. Hilton has announced plans to build an adjacent 1,400-room hotel. The facility, scheduled for a January 2004 opening, will have 125,000 square feet of meeting space. The Peabody Orlando, next door to the existing center, is beginning a six-year plan to add 1,700 guest rooms, bringing the total to 2,591, and is also adding 125,000 square feet of meeting space.

Pack That Sunscreen DERMATOLOGISTS HEAD FOR MIAMI IN 2010 Fifteen years ago, the American Academy of Dermatology would never have considered Miami as an annual meeting destination. "We were just uneasy with the hotel situation," says Cheryl K. Nordstedt, "and unwilling to split 6,000 rooms between Miami Beach and Miami."

How things have changed. Nordstedt says the renaissance of Miami's South Beach and its art deco hotels, as well as new construction has made it possible for the AAD to choose Miami as the place for its 2010 annual meeting and "offer a nice package to attendees." The AAD annual meeting typically draws about 15,000, she added.

Nordstedt--who these days is wearing two hats as associate executive director of the Academy's association management services division and as the AAD's interim executive director--explained that the Academy was eager to find new destinations for the annual meeting's East Coast rotation, which includes major convention destinations such as Orlando and Washington, D.C.

Greater Miami and the Beaches is in the midst of $1.4 billion in new hotel room development that will add at least 7,900 new rooms to the inventory. It's the area's first big hotel boom since the early 1980s. For more information about the area, visit the GMCVB Web site at www.tropicoolmiami.com.

Big Easy Expansion NEW ORLEANS PROPOSES MEDICAL MEETINGS FACILITY The latest expansion plans for the Ernest N. Morial Convention Center in New Orleans include a separate facility designed and equipped specifically for medical meetings. That's the recommendation of John Kaatz, project leader on a feasibility study done by Minneapolis-based Convention, Sports & Leisure International.

According to the study, New Orleans draws 11 percent of the nation's large medical meetings--the highest share among the largest markets, including Chicago. But, "There's a small to mid-

size market segment that New Orleans isn't reaching," Kaatz says, and building a high-tech facility with 200,000 square feet of exhibit space and 100,000 square feet of meeting and ballroom space will fill that need.

His study recommends this separate facility include emerging data transfer technology wiring, webcasting and webconferencing equipment, specially designed lecterns and electronic lightboards for computerized screen projections, production and editing studios for telemedicine and live case demonstrations, and high-definition television screens to broadcast medical procedures.

It's premature to say if the project as recommended is a go, but support for the expansion in New Orleans is strong and Kaatz says he's hoping for a completion date within five years. Meanwhile, the center is currently moving ahead on the rest of its Phase IV expansion with the $45 million purchase of 37 acres of land next to the center's Phase III expansion, which opened last year. Phase IV will add 500,000 square feet of exhibit space to Morial's existing 1.1 million square feet.

CLARIFICATION *In the story "Eye on E-CME," which appeared in the March/April 2000 issue, Suzanne Ziemnik, director, division of CME, American Academy of Pediatrics, Elk Grove Village, Ill., discussed a problem the AAP had with a medical education Web site posting write-ups from the AAP's conference without permission. In the article, Ziemnik said that the AAP had no legal recourse. She now clarifies that the AAP is "seeking counsel from our attorneys on this issue."

Physicians, Heal Yourselves--With Laughter Of, by, and for health care professionals. That's the basis of Medical Entertainment Services, a new speakers bureau. From celebrities such as Neil Shulman, MD, the real Doc Hollywood, to the (slightly) less renowned Managed Care Blues Band, MES features health care professionals who are also professional entertainers. "This is high quality entertainment. No garage bands," says Sam Bierstock, MD, founder of the Managed Care Blues Band, and cofounder of MES.

Whether you're a small association with a tight budget, or a pharmaceutical company with more to spend, MES has the performers for you, he says. Speakers combine humor, entertainment, and education, addressing topics such as patient/doctor communication and stress reduction. Packages are available; you can book, for example, a keynote speaker, a stand-up comedian for a dinner, and a full musical show. And, if one of your non-MES speakers cancels at the last moment, don't panic--MES has a "Speaker 911" service. Yell for help, and they will try to find you a replacement. For more information, call MES at (561) 243-3673, or visit www.medicalentertainment.com. --Tamar Hosansky

Meeting Power MPI PREDICTS CONFERENCE INDUSTRY GROWTH The value of meetings has only one way to go: up. That's the word from Meeting Professionals International's World Education Congress 2000 held in Los Angeles in July. Meetings in the U.S. are expected to increase by 9 percent in 2001, according to MPI's annual Meeting Outlook Survey. The study polled nearly 450 meeting professionals, 241 from associations and 163 from corporations. Results showed that associations will plan 5 percent more meetings, while corporations will plan almost 15 percent more conferences.

International meetings, though expected to decline in 2001, are taking place in destinations as far-flung as Africa and Singapore. But medical planners should take note: According to MM's Seventh Annual Physician Preferences Survey, Canada, the Caribbean, and Europe are the international destinations most favored by physicians. --Alisa Wolf

In Memoriam Jeffrey J. Maggerine, 32, sales manager for the Orange County Convention Center, Orlando, was killed in an early morning one-car accident August 14 in Orlando in the midst of the American Society of Association Executives Annual Meeting and just hours before he was to participate in a press conference announcing the convention center's expansion plans.

Maggerine, who was the architect of a 25-year contract between the convention center and Reed Expositions, representing about $2 billion in future business for the facility and the community, worked at OCCC for six years. Before that, he was director of sales and marketing for the Oncenter, Onondaga County Convention Center, in Syracuse, N.Y.

A native of Leicester, N.Y., Maggerine received bachelor's degrees from Schiller International University in Strasbourg, France, and Niagara University. He also earned an MBA from Schiller International University in London. He was a member of the International Association for Exhibition Management, the Association of Convention Manage-ment Executives, and ASAE.

Maggerine is survived by a stepbrother, Joseph Maggerine, of Mount Morris, N.Y., and many cousins.

Privacy, Please NO MORE SOCIAL SECURITY NUMBERS In response to physicians' concerns about security and privacy, particularly over the Internet, the American Medical Association House of Delegates issued this resolution at its June meeting: The AMA opposes the use of social security numbers as a requirement to obtain CME credit, and strongly encourages the use of AMA medical education numbers for such educational activity.

Physicians are assigned a medical education number when they are licensed. CME providers should tell physicians to call (800) 262-3211 to find out their number.

Aloo Paratha, Anyone? In conventions past, one of the biggest complaints from attendees concerned the food, recalls Virender Sethi, MD, convention chairman for the 2000 annual conference of the American Association of Physicians of Indian Origin. But they're not complaining anymore. Not since last year, when the AAPI brought in caterer Sneh Mehtani, owner of Moghul Restaurant and Catering of Morristown and Edison, NJ. For Indian physicians homesick for their own cuisine, Mehtani's offerings of aloo paratha (a kind of mashed-potato bread), lassi (a yogurt drink), and sambar (lentil and mixed vegetables), are the perfect antidote. "We heard only the most glorifying words," Sethi says. "We did not have one negative comment." At this June's convention, held at the Marriott Marquis Hotel in New York, Mehtani catered a sit-down banquet for 3,000 people.

Mehtani, whose numerous medical clients include Sandoz Chemicals, Merck, and Pfizer Co., is available to cater events across the U.S. For more information, call (732) 549-8809. --Tamar Hosansky

PRESCRIPTION Surveying physicians in a broad geographic area to identify their educational needs is not the most cost-effective or efficient means of needs assessment, says Donald Moore Jr., PhD, manager of CME, The Queens Medical Center, Honolulu.

Instead, Moore suggests an approach he calls "strategic needs assessment." He recommends CME providers contact hospitals, medical centers, health systems, and other agencies that collect and analyze data relating to the incidence, prevalence, and patterns of disease. After analyzing and prioritizing that data, providers can zero in on programming areas, and then use the more traditional types of needs assessments, such as mailed questionnaires and focus groups.

In this way, he says, providers are focusing data collection on specialties and subspecialties rather than the entire population of physicians. And such research yields more specific data--for example, instead of identifying "heart disease" as an educational need, providers will have information on physicians' underutilization of ACE inhibitors in congestive heart failure.

You can also find out "if doctors in your catchment area are doing the best possible job under the best possible practice circumstances," Moore says. "At hospitals, this information is easy to find. Most hospitals have someone on staff who is responsible for CME, and relationships for sharing information can be developed. But it takes a lot of work at first, because people who have the data don't understand why you want it."