Case Conferences: A New Twist On A Traditional Idea

April 02, 1998

HERSHEY, PA-- Researchers at Penn State's College of Medicine have developed a process to place interactive patient case conferences on the Internet.

"Case conferences are held in virtually every academic medical center in the United States. The idea is to present, contemplate and discuss patient-care issues with other members of one's department. The goal is to learn vicariously from one's peers," states Jeffrey M. Taekman, M.D., assistant professor of anesthesia. "This is an extension of an existing teaching format. Instead of being restricted to the experience of colleagues at your institution, we now have access to physicians all over the world."

Taekman and Charles Kingsley, M.D., associate professor of anesthesia, have done several test cases and say the reaction has been excellent. "Physicians realize that all specialties, not just anesthesiology, could adapt some form of this program. The interactive learning is done at the user's convenience, at the end of a busy work day or at home after the family has gone to bed. The interactive discussions and multimedia presentations will encourage users to return on a frequent basis," adds Taekman.

Taekman also envisions an accreditation component as part of the system. He estimates it would take less than an hour to review each case. He then would like to see a physician test at the end of the review to earn Continuing Medical Education (CME) credits. He believes making it easier to earn credits for various certifications would also be a good use of the program.

Taekman is currently negotiating with industry representatives to fund the project, which he estimates would cost close to $1 million over three years. The majority of this money will fund an extensive peer-review system for both the multimedia cases and the appended discussions. "Peer-review is the most important component of the project. As medical information on the Internet explodes, end-users will turn to "trusted sites" to obtain their quality medical information. Showing that our project is peer-reviewed by experts will clearly distinguish us from others on the Internet," he states.

The case conference may be seen at


Leilyn Perri (o) (717) 531-8604 e-mail:
M. Steven Bortner (o) (717) 531-8606

Penn State

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