Healthcare News and Ideas for Medical Conference OrganizersCME NOTES New CME Topics, Part 1: Ninety-three percent of physicians believe ongoing, periodic training in terminal care would be beneficial, according to a study by Pennsylvania State University College of Medicine, published in the Journal of Cancer Education (JCE). The majority favored group discussion as the best forum for such training. The physicians chose pain management, death and dying, quality of life, and "do not resuscitate" orders as the four most important areas for continuing medical education. The JCE is the official journal of the American and European associations for cancer education (AACE and EACE).

New CME Topics, Part 2: A new study by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs and Boston University School of Medicine says doctors may not be aggressive enough in managing hypertension. The results of the study appear in the December 31, 1998, edition of The New England Journal of Medicine (NEJM). Researchers examined hypertension care provided to 800 predominately elderly, white male veterans from five VA medical centers over a two-year period. The study findings are significant in their call to physicians to reassess their treatment for and management of hypertension patients.

For more information, visit the NEJM Web site at www.nejm.org.

ASSOCIATION NOTES Gimme some skin, man! The practice of dermatology is 200 years old. In 1798, English physician Robert Willan published "On Cutaneous Diseases," thus founding the specialty of dermatology, according to John Thorne Crissey, MD, the author of "Two Hundred Years of Dermatology," published in the December 1998 issue of the Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology. Founded in 1938, the AAD is the largest dermatologic association, with more than 11,000 members worldwide.

The American Medical Association held its 1998 Interim Meeting of the House of Delegates at the Hilton Hawaiian Village in Honolulu from December 6 to 9, managing to attract all 484 delegates plus guests. News from the meeting:

* AMAP, the American Medical Accreditation Program, was well-received after a sour introduction a year ago. Medical societies from New Jersey, Connecticut, Montana, Idaho, Utah, Massachusetts, Hawaii, and the District of Columbia have agreed to implement it. Some 4,000 physicians in these states have AMAP applications pending. The idea behind AMAP is to have a nationally recognized standard--well beyond the Physicians Recognition Award, which is what CME credits accrue toward--that physicians will be able to use to demonstrate competency to patients, hospitals, and managed care organizations.

* Fears that the AMA's settlement with Sunbeam Corp. following the association's ill-fated adventure in product endorsement would bust its budget proved unfounded.

* The AMA's standing task force on membership has submitted a series of proposals to reverse the organization's recent decline in membership. Expect the AMA to be an even more assertive advocate for physician relationships with managed care organizations in 1999.

* The AMA offered four Category 1 CME courses at the Interim Meeting, all notable for their subject matter: a course on using the Internet; one on creating IPAs (Independent Physician Associations, a type of business organization for physicians who want to avoid joining HMOs); a course on contracting directly with employers and insurance companies; and a course on how to avoid fraud and abuse legal liabilities.

Who's Afraid of Medconnect? Will medical societies lose the loyalty of physician members to big commercial Web sites like www.medconnect.com? In a December 23 news story, reporters from The Wall Street Journal asked physicians what Web sites they recommend for their patients who want health information. Every doctor recommended his or her own specialty society's Web site. Among those cited as having impeccable credibility: the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (www.acog.org); the American Psychiatric Association (www.psych.org); and the American Heart Association (www.americanheart.org). By the way, the psychiatrist told the reporter he used his association's site "mostly to keep up with his professional education." See our survey results about how physicians obtain CME on page 42