Vabren Watts reports:
Medical communication companies (MCCs) are doing more than offering online continuing medical education (CME) courses to physicians—the companies may be monitoring clinicians’ website behavior as well.
Researchers from the Mailman School of Public Health and the Center for the Study of Society and Medicine at Columbia University investigated the financial relationship between MCCs and drug companies and whether MCCs accurately represent themselves to clinicians using their CME offerings. They reported their findings in the December 18, 2013, Journal of the American Medical Association.
Eighteen MCCs received more than $2 million each in funding. Of those heavily funded MCCs, 99 percent offered free online CME courses, and approximately 60 percent of these companies acknowledged using cookies and Web beacons to track physicians’ online activity, in addition to sharing physicians’ personal information—such as demographics, professional specialty, and license number—with third parties including “educational partners” and companies with which they have a working relationship..[…] According to the study authors, although MCCs did not elicit users’ explicit consent, the companies did interpret “participating in a CME course and navigating the [MCCs’] website as an implicit agreement to share information with third parties.”
Read more on Psychiatry Online.