MEDICAL NOTE

Hot Topic: Systems Biology Systems Biology is an emerging discipline that takes a global look at complex biological functions technologies. The two-year-old Institute for Systems Biology (ISB), Seattle, Wash., is one of the more visible research organizations dedicated to this new approach. The Institute is also committed to pioneering new approaches to science education. It held its first-ever International Symposium on Systems Biology in late March at its own new facility in Seattle, and plans are afoot for a second symposium in 2003. ISB is collaborating with the University of Washington on a variety of research projects, according to Paul Ramsey, UW vice president for medical affairs and dean of the UW School of Medicine. To learn more about this emerging area — and its potential as a topic for CME — visit www.systemsbiology.org.

Patient Education By Prescription Imagine this: Instead of hunting for information on the Web or in bookstores, people receive the information they need through prescriptions from their doctors, hospitals, or health plans. In their new book, Information Therapy: Prescribed Information as a Reimbursable Medical Service, authors Donald W. Kemper and Molly Mettler show how integrating information prescriptions into health care would improve the quality of care and better meet the demands of today's consumer. Doctors agree that patients should be well informed about the treatments they receive, but two major barriers impede this objective. First, there is just not enough time in each visit for doctors to fully explain what patients need to know, and, second, much of what they cover is quickly forgotten. Information therapy is the fix, say the authors, and the result is better-informed consumers, higher-quality care, fewer medical mistakes, and lower health care costs. We await the first CME course on managing patient access to information.

NOTABLE MEETINGS

Women of Wisdom Inc. produces teleconferencing forums dedicated to women physicians and attorneys. Four sessions are scheduled for May and June. Plans are in the works to offer CME credits for physicians and continuing legal education credits for attorneys. Priscilla V. Marotta, PhD, a psychologist, author, and founder of Women of Wisdom, facilitates the series on psychological strategic planning. Marotta, author of Power and Wisdom: The New Path for Women, says “Our company was created [in 1997] to provide a catalyst for change in the legal and medical professions and in women's personal and professional lives.” In the legal and medical professions, women comprise approximately 30 to 40 percent of practicing professionals in 2002. Female graduates entering legal and medical studies are approaching 50 percent of students, causing one of the most significant occupational shifts of the last 20 years. To learn more, call (954) 321-1060 or visit www.womenofwisdom.com.

Take Those Meds Getting patients to take their medicines when they are supposed to — or at all — has long been a contentious issue for physicians. It seems that this is a major issue for pharmaceutical firms, too — because when patients don't get their prescriptions filled, drugs don't get sold. According to The Center for Business Intelligence Research Inc., a conference organizer based in Woburn, Mass., noncompliance costs the pharmaceutical industry an average of $150 billion a year. About 20 percent of all prescriptions are never filled, and of those that are, about half are taken incorrectly. In Philadelphia in April, CBI held the first-ever Patient Compliance Conference, a meeting of pharmaceutical executives to problem-solve this issue. For more information on CBI, visit www.cbinet.com

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