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ABM’s Healthcare Council focuses on digital

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American Business Media’s Healthcare Media Council last week held its first educational event focused on online media, The Digital Prescription: Delivering a Healthier P&L.

Like other media with a print heritage, health care journals and business publications have been affected by the Internet revolution. However, the medical field represents unique challenges and opportunities for information providers, according to speakers at the half-day event in New York.

“Medicine is being transformed from an art to a science,” said keynote speaker Bette Brunelle, VP and lead analyst for Outsell. There are new demands for evidence-based medicine and electronic medical records so that physicians can access medical information that applies to the patient at hand at the point of care, she said.

“Doctors need different information from what has traditionally been published in medical journals,” Brunelle said. “This means publishers need to change the way they present, sell and market information.”

For this reason, the venerable New England Journal of Medicine’s redesigned Web site at nejm.org uses a variety of Web 2.0 features, said Kent Anderson, executive director of international business and product development. One such feature is beta.nejm.org, a beta site where audience members can see and try elements of the Web site before they are officially launched and give feedback. “Users now control the value equation,” Anderson said.

As personal digital devices become everyday tools for physicians, especially newer practitioners, nejm.org has a mobile edition. “Content is taken for granted, but work flow is king,” Anderson explained. “We have to make our information products useful on a day-to-day basis.”

Similarly, Advanstar’s Life Sciences group is “using Web 2.0 technologies such as polls and blogs to provide interaction,” said Andrew Weissberg, general manager of product development and interactive marketing.

“It’s important to organize online content differently from print, to optimize it for search,” Weissberg said, noting that search engine optimization is a specialty. “If you don’t have that expertise yourself, you need to leverage external resources,” he said. “Asking editors to be in charge of this is a big mistake.”

ABM’s Healthcare Council is working with the Association of Medical Publications on a number of research projects and educational events, said Will Passano, president of Ascend Media’s Medical/Dental division and chairman of ABM’ s health care council.

Because there has been a dramatic shift of advertising dollars from print media to online over the past two years, “the ABM Healthcare Council is taking a digital focus,” he said. “E-media advertising dollars have just surpassed print.”

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