Wednesday, April 28, 1999

Web site promises no-wait medical news




BY SUE MacDONALD
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        Don't want to wait around for the publication of next week's or next month's medical journal to find out what doctors are learning? You won't have to, when Dr. George Lundberg's online medical journal gets up and running.

        Medscape General Medicine (MedGenMed) — a cyberspace medical journal at www.medscape.com — is free online to subscribers around the world. As soon as articles, studies, commentaries and other items pass the journal's review process — the same adopted by print journals — they will be posted immediately online.

        MedGenMed launched April 9, and Dr. George Lundberg, who for 17 years edited the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA), is soliciting studies and articles from doctors and scientists to beef up its content.

        Immediacy is the major difference between MedGenMed and print journals, Dr. Lundberg says. There will be no waiting for the next month's issue, no delays from the time a study is completed until it winds its way through the review, typesetting, proofreading and publishing process.

        “With physicians every day learning how to access the Internet, and with the general public accessing it by leaps and bounds, we feel the time is very good,” says Dr. Lundberg, who was fired from JAMA in January.

        (During President Clinton's impeachment trial, JAMA published the results of an opinion survey on American's definitions of sex. In the study, 59 percent of college students said they did not consider oral sex as “having sex,” and Dr. Lundberg's supervisors felt publication of the study was poorly timed, inappropriate, unscientific and non-medical).

        It didn't take him long to resurface at medscape.com, a four-year-old Web site that provides medical and health information on a wide variety of topics.

        Computers have changed medicine for many years, he says, from the way hospitals monitor safety to the way insurance forms are filled out and filed. The latest boom includes posting and obtaining medical-health information on the Internet.

        “The Internet allows the ordinary person to have almost the entire world's library in their own home at the touch of a button,” he says. “We believe that patients should take charge of their health, but in order to do so, they must be enabled by good information.”

        Not all information on the Internet is reliable, he says, and all patients need a doctor willing to help collect solid information to make wise decisions based on each person's circumstance.

        “But an intelligent, informed patient is likely to be a healthier patient,” he says.

        He hopes that scientists and doctors who otherwise would turn to established journals like JAMA and the New England Journal of Medicine will now consider submitting their articles for online posting at Medscape.

        The Medscape journal will be offered free to anyone in the world who has access to the Internet. Like other medical journals, it will derive most of its income from advertising revenue and continuing education activities.

       



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