What role will specialty societies play in the world of managed care organizations (MCOs)? Two medical society executives, one medical tradeshow operator, and one expert in physician learning discussed the impact of MCOs on physician salaries, physician learning needs, and on alternate systems for delivering continuing medical education. In a conscious departure from standard lecture format, the session was held as a discussion-in-the-round, with speakers seated on an elevated platform in the middle of the floor, surrounded by attendees.
Physician incomes are stagnant or declining, said David J. Noonan, deputy executive vice president, American Academy of Ophthalmology, and moderator for the session, adding that physicians in his organization's specialty had seen a precipitous income drop-12 percent-in the last year alone. How, he wondered, could medical associations retain, much less build, attendance at their meetings under such circumstances?
One way to reach members is through the Internet, said Marcia J. Jackson, PhD, associate executive vice president and vice president of education, American College of Cardiology. But she warned that simply having a Web site is not enough to create value for members. "I don't think our members will come to our home page unless there is something valuable there for them every day."
The Internet could be a way to reach the 75 to 90 percent of medical society members who do not attend their organizations' annual meetings, said John Mooney, president, Hill Holiday Exhibition Services. Mooney suggested that creating regional meetings tailored to the educational needs of local MCOs-much as his own organization has done with its Primary Care Today meetings (see, December 1995), are an effective response to managed care organizations' growing influence over physician behavior.
Whether regional or national, meetings might be where physicians go not so much to learn as to find out what they need to learn, said Henry B. Slotnick, PhD, PhD, professor of neuroscience, University of North Dakota School of Medicine, and member of the board of the Alliance for CME. He added that physicians do most of their learning in unstructured settings. "We know that 85 percent of physicians solve problems by talking to other physicians in the hallway," he said, adding that medical meeting planners need to realize that while physicians understand that the off-the-cuff consult is important, they themselves don't understand why it is important. Managed care is creating educational opportunities, said Slotnick, although he sees no evidence that MCOs are acting on these opportunities. "Managed care means individuals taking more responsibility for their health. I don't see MCOs teaching plan participants what that means."
An audience member asked whether specialty societies had a future, and a physician in the audience responded that MCOs did not seem to have an interest in educating specialists, so he expected to continue relying on his specialty society for continuing medical education.
AMERICAN SPEECH-LANGUAGE-HEARING ASSOCIATION WINS ASAE AWARD The American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA), in Rockville, MD, and the Center for Organization Development (COD) Inc., a meeting production and Internet design company based in Webster, NY, won a Diamond Award of Excellence from the American Society of Association Executives (ASAE) meetings and expositions section. ASHA and COD teamed up in 1995 to design a plan for ASHA's annual conventions, using themeetings model designed by COD. The award was presented at ASAE's Management & Technology Conference, held in December in Washington, DC. Pictured from left: Corinne S. Dacus, CMP, ASAE meetings and expositions section chair; Cheryl Russell, director, conventions and meetings, ASHA; Peter Turner, director, business development, COD, Inc.; and Susan Bitter Smith, CAE, ASAE board chair.