Starting this month, physicians in most of Pennsylvania's hospitals will have online access to a library of more than 100 simulated case studies in such specialties as cardiology, general surgery, internal medicine, obstetrics and gynecology, and pediatrics.

Under a service partnership between The Hospital & Healthsystem Association of Pennsylvania (HAP), a statewide membership services organization that advocates for nearly 250 Pennsylvania acute and specialty care, primary care, subacute care, long-term care, home health, and hospice providers (www.haponline.org ), and MedCases, Inc. -- a Philadelphia-based medical education company and ACCME-accredited provider of interactive, Internet-based continuing medical education (CME) for physicians (www.medcases.com) -- medical staff of HAP member organizations can obtain Category I CME credits.

"MedCases provides our member hospitals and health systems with a cost- effective alternative to traditional CME," said Carolyn F. Scanlan, president and CEO of HAP. "It reduces their financial investment while offering a significant return on that investment with a high quality professional education experience."

MedCases simulated patient encounters take CME candidates through a series of lifelike situations where a patient presents and the treating physician works through standard steps to determine a differential diagnosis. From there, the physician can select laboratory and diagnostic tests, evaluate the results of those tests, make a final diagnosis, and determine the treatment plan. Upon completion, the physician receives an evaluation of his or her decisions.