Looking for the Future? Check Physician Organizations

Posted by: in Healthcare Insights on September 2, 2010

The idea that doctors can (or should) use online tools to connect with others and deal with the inevitable information overload of medical information isn’t new. It was the founding vision of Medscape, way back in 1995, and it has animated countless startup networks, forums and publications in the 15 years since Medscape went live.

Despite the overwhelming demand for medical information, no universal resource has emerged. Of the 100 most popular websites in the U.S., not a single one is focused on health or medicine. (The highest-ranked site? WebMD, at #194 in the U.S.) This vacuum hasn’t gone unnoticed, and there has been an endless cycle of new entrants into the online health market.

But when it comes to doctors, it’s not the new kids on the block that are likely to dominate health information in the years to come: it’s the old guard. This summer, three game-changing online ventures went live from three different medical societies.

At a time when traffic has flattened at many other sites, groups such as the ACC, ASCO and ESC are combining the old-school networking power of a membership organization with new-school tools to bring messages to members (and others) in a way that was impossible until fairly recently. With a built-in audience, huge amounts of institutional knowledge and resources and — now — the tools to bring all of those together, professional groups are establishing an even more formidable position as information providers.

That doesn’t mean that there isn’t room for a newcomer in the connecting-doctors department, nor does it spell the end of other established players (Medscape has seen a nice bump in traffic lately) but it’s increasingly clear that major medical organizations are re-emerging as a major communications channel for doc-specific health care information.

The idea that doctors can (or should) use online tools to connect with others and deal with the inevitable information overload of medical information isn’t new. It was the founding vision of Medscape, way back in 1995, and it has animated countless startup networks, forums and publications in the 15 years since Medscape went live.


Despite the overwhelming demand for medical information, no universal resource has emerged. Of the 100 most popular websites in the U.S., not a single one is focused on health or medicine. This vacuum hasn’t gone unnoticed, and there has been an endless cycle of new entrants into the online health market.

But when it comes to doctors, it’s not the new kids on the block that are likely to dominate health information in the years to come: it’s the old guard. This summer, three game-changing online ventures went live from three different medical societies.

The 61-year-old American College of Cardiology launched a new site, with social networking baked in (supplementing its existing blog, LinkedIn group, two Facebook pages and three Twitter feeds). The 56-year-old American Society of Clinical Oncology launched a robust publication, The ASCO Post, relying heavily on online distribution. And, just this week, 60-year-old European Society of Cardiology supplemented its annual meeting with a multimedia Facebook experience that extended the meeting to the group’s thousands of followers.

At a time when traffic has flattened at many other sites, groups such as the ACC, ASCO and ESC may be combining the old-school networking power of a membership organization with new-school tools to bring messages to members (and others) in a way that was impossible until fairly recently.

That doesn’t mean that there isn’t room for a newcomer in the connecting-doctors department, nor does it spell the end of other established players (Medscape has seen a nice bump in traffic lately) but it’s increasingly clear that major medical organizations are re-emerging as a major communications channel.

By: Brian Reid

Brian Reid is a managing director at W2O Group, where he oversees influencer relations. He is a former journalist who believes content really is king.

Find me on: Twitter
Pre-Commerce Check out W2O Group President Bob Pearson's new book, Pre-Commerce, in which he shares ideas for leaders to engage directly with customers to shape their brand and marketplace success. Now available for order on Amazon.com! http://amzn.to/bAmvFN. Join the conversation #precommerce.

3 Responses

Stay in touch with the conversation, subscribe to the RSS feed for comments on this post.

  1. Interesting post, Brian. Refreshing to see the medical societies emerging into the new day with real communications platforms allowing for more than straight distribution and the hope for expansion into user-generated content.

    While not as optimistic as you about “finding the future” here, a promising signal would be to see traditional media marry up with some of these efforts to cross pollinate content. Imagine the WSJ running a regular feature from ASCO Post and vice versa. Nice synergies in traffic, content, perspective and groundbreaking information exchange.

    Better still, R&D Directions would be a perfect fit. Maybe you can sell it into @ChrisTruelove?

    Seriously!

    Marian
    @mariancutler

  2. Monica Anderson said

    It is no surprise that cardiologists lead the way in medical social media, but how to actually make physician on- line engagements a part of their routine versus a fad, or a once in a while when I have time activity is the challeng in my mind. Any advice on this?

Continuing the Discussion

  1. How Orgs — Not Consumers — Are Dominating the ‘Information Ecosystem’ | Common Sense linked to this post on October 20, 2011

    […] most significant impact of the digital publication revolution has been not on individuals but on organizations: non-profits, professional associations, advocacy groups and the […]

Some HTML is OK

(required)

(required, but never shared)

or, reply to this post via trackback.