October 2004 Bulletin

Take advantage of AAOS Web-based resources

Benefits include increased security, practice promotion

By A. Herbert Alexander, MD and James Ogle

As much as orthopaedic surgeons enjoy technology—just look at how excited we get about new surgical options and implant improvements—few of us really like working with computers. We’re not “geeks.” That’s why the AAOS works so hard to make it easy for us to use computers. Unfortunately, many Academy fellows still haven’t take advantage of all the Web-based resources available to us.

If your 2004 new year’s resolutions included becoming more Web-savvy, here are three easy steps you can take to meet that goal by the end of the year.

Change your password

For some time now, AAOS has provided fellows with the opportunity to select their own personal password, rather than using their member number. If you’re among the more than 90 percent of fellows who haven’t taken advantage of this feature, now is the time to do so. Changing your password is not only easy, it’s the smart thing to do!

The most common method of gaining access to a computer system is to impersonate an authorized user. A hacker might have no interest in your account, but with access to your password, a hacker could potentially change your demographics (address, phone number, etc.), view your personal transcript, or see what products you’ve purchased. To change your password, simply click on the “My profile” icon on the AAOS home page and then click on Password Change.

The object when choosing a password is to make it as difficult as possible for a hacker to make educated guesses about what you’ve chosen. If a hacker has to try every possible combination of letters, numbers and punctuation, even with the help of a machine that could try one million passwords per second (most machines can try less than one hundred per second), it would take, on average, more than one hundred years. Here are some tips for selecting a password:

List practice demographics

Currently, the AAOS feature “Find a Surgeon” gets about 30,000 page views a month. Patients can search for an orthopaedist by name, by location (city, zip, state or country), or by practice demographics. Because people are often looking for an orthopaedist who specializes in a condition, age group or anatomic area, the AAOS includes these as practice demographics. A person looking for a hand specialist in Houston, for example, would be referred only to those AAOS fellows who have indicated “hand” as an anatomic specialty in their practice demographics.

This is very useful feature for patients. Unfortunately, only about 7 percent of AAOS fellows have taken the time to indicate their practice specialties. Update your profile today so that patients in your area don’t get this message: “There are no members matching your search criteria.”

Listing practice specialties takes less than two minutes. Simply click on the “My Profile” icon from the AAOS home page, scroll down to “Service Requests” and click on “Enter your practice demographics.” Then, just click on the applicable age, anatomic, and treatment specialties.

Update your profile

The My Profile section of the AAOS Web site includes many other features that you should review on a regular basis. For example, you can view a transcript of the CME credit hours you have earned through the AAOS, or claim actual credit hours. You can also sign up for a vanity e-mail address through the AAOS, such as yourname@md.aaos.org, which automatically forwards mail to your actual e-mail account. E-mail messages and attachments are not stored on the “md.aaos.org” server.

You can also check the status of any products you’ve ordered, change your contact information, build your own personal physician or group practice Web site, and even pay your member dues online. From this screen you can also apply for committee openings and the Leadership Fellows Program, subscribe to AAOS Headline News and access the Academy’s Placement Service.

A new search engine

The AAOS has purchased a new search engine for its various Web sites and will install it by year’s end. Some of the new capabilities of this search engine include the ability to index Adobe PDF documents and to highlight search terms in the retrieved files.

The software will also allow us to build synonym tables (so that “broken bone” may also retrieve documents with “fracture”) and to suggest spelling corrections (recognizing “doktor” as “doctor”). The system also tracks all queries and provides reports on what topics are being searched—including information the user sought but could not find. This will provide valuable information for all AAOS staff who develop Web content.

A. Herbert Alexander, MD, is chairman of the AAOS Internet Communications Committee. He can be reached at: herb_alexander@msn.com

Jim Ogle is AAOS director of information systems and member services. He can be reached at: ogle@aaos.org

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