Knowledge for Medical Profession
CMPMedica provides healthcare information and education around the world.The company provides general practitioners, specialist doctors, pharmacists, and patients with professional media, including journals, magazines, directories, electronic databases, websites, and face-to-face meetings.
Through these offerings, CMPMedica reaches healthcare professionals in the United States, most European countries, India, China, Korea, other Asian markets, Australia, and New Zealand.
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Need for Simplified, Pertinent Searches
As a well-known publisher of medical print publications and electronic directories and websites, executives at London-based CMPMedica knew that medical professionals, like other professionals and consumers, were increasingly going to the web rather than relying strictly on print publications for their research, but were largely unsatisfied with the results.
Typically medical professionals would use one or more search engines like Google, Yahoo!, or MSN, but would be inundated with “hits,” many or most of which were irrelevant.While the information might have been
fine for consumers, it didn’t provide the information that professionals were seeking, according to Henry Elkington, CE O of CMPMedica.
“If a psychologist was looking for information on adolescent depression, for example, he would get a lot of articles from [publications like] The New York Times, which are consumer-oriented,” Elkington explains. “Google and other search engines list results by the number of links pointing to [a site]. The New York Times, for example, has a lot of links pointing to it.”
Professional medical sites, because there are fewer medical professionals than total web users, have far fewer links, so would be listed deep on a typical search engine’s “hit” list. Some medical portals were also available, including some with “professional” sections, but even those were limited in the value of the information that they provided to health professionals, so they would search at these portals and still look to one of the broader search engines like Google to complete their research, Elkington says. That meant searching through reams of irrelevant content to find what they needed.
Healthcare professionals are too busy to sift through the consumeroriented articles to find what they need, Elkington says. “We wanted the opportunity to provide healthcare professionals with the tools to find the relevant content they needed more quickly.”
Learning While Searching
So in the summer of 2005, CMPMedica started looking for a vendor to provide a different solution that would provide healthcare professionals with more pertinent and specialized information. But the company still had only a basic overview of what it wanted to do when the search started.
“It wasn’t a typical [solution] search,” Elkington admits. “We didn’t have a clear concept of what we wanted. We knew that we’d have to kiss a lot of frogs before we would figure out how it would work.We talked to three companies who wanted to sell us a piece of software.We didn’t want an expensive piece of software.We wanted a partner.”
But the other vendors found the partnership concept unappealing, Elkington says. “When you deal with acompany like Google, you do so on their terms.We wanted someone who would work with us.”
Late in 2005 CMPMedica found that partner in Convera, a company that not only had the search technology that CMPMedica needed, but also worked with CMPMedica on a partnership basis. That meant helping CMPMedica solidify its concept as well as agreeing to a revenue sharing agreement rather than outright payment for the technology, the Convera TrueKnowledge Platform. CMPMedica is using the hosted version of the technology, which is also available as a fully installed package (hardware and software) or installed software.
“That meant there was a certain amount of risk sharing, which was attractive to us,” Elkington says.
Convera cited the need of business-to-business to compete with popular search engines and other online publishers as the idea behind the development of TrueKnowledge. According to Convera, knowledge workers spend as much as 35% of their day just searching for information. Barely two out of the 10 will find what they really need.
Better, More Pertinent Results
Convera built a proof-of-concept pilot in the fourth quarter of 2005, which CMPMedica showed to doctors to gauge their response. The initial response was lukewarm, so Convera worked with CMPMedica to refine the list of sites to be searched, the depth and quality of site crawling, and the graphical interface before signing the contract in the spring of 2006. The result was the CMPMedica-labeled www.searchmedica.com service, which CMPMedica launched U.S. and U.K. sites in October. Sites for healthcare professionals in France and Spain are scheduled for 2007.
One of the advantages over typical search engines like Google is that the www.searchmedica.com site offers “recommended” and expanded searches. The specialized searches will search through only a limited number of medical publications, while an expanded search will look not only into the specialized materials, but also into other content. The amount of specialized material depends on the search, Elkington says.While the specialized search for “adolescent depression” might go through several hundred publications, a search for a rare disease might have only a handful of publications indexed for the focused search.
Another advantage www.searchmedica.com offers over popular search engines like Yahoo! is that researchers will get results with American and British spellings of the word, according to Elkington. So a U.S. health professional who looks up “hematology” (British spelling “haematology”) will get results from sites that use both spellings. This is especially critical for U.K. doctors who typically will want research from the NewEngland Journal of Medicine and other well-regarded U.S. research publications, Elkington says. With other spellings to retrieve the additional results.
When the France and Spain sites come online, they will offer a similar capability to search across different spellings of the same word. For example, oncologie is the French spelling of oncology, but doctors in that country don’t want to be limited to only those results, Elkington says.
The expanded searches are even more comprehensive, Elkington adds. When CMPMedica signed the contract, Convera had more than 4 billion web pages indexed for search, a figure that has since grown to 5 billion. But it’s advertising that will be the engine that will determine the success of the venture. The early results encourage Elkington, with a major advertiser signed just as the site was becoming operational.
AstraZeneca, makers of the popular cholesterol medicine Crestor, is the first advertiser on the site. When a healthcare professional searches for cholesterol-related information, he automatically receives the advertisement for Crestor.
TrueKnowledge analytics enables query and user tracking for realtime editorial feedback and advertiser support, enabling CMPMedica to tweak the system’s results as necessary (e.g., adding or deleting sites for the specialized searches) and to provide advertisers with pertinent feedback.
Elkington expects the website advertising to grow as more healthcare practitioners use www.searchmedica.com’s new search capabilities, following the trend of advertising dollars going away from print and toward online content.
“Print advertising absolutely is not dead. Print publications will be around for another twenty years. But it’s certainly true that advertising budgets are going to the web,” Elkington says. “We still have a long way to go. We are still at the beginning rather than at the end of the project.”
About the Author
PHILLIP BRITT (firstname.lastname@example.org) is president of S&P Enterprises, Inc., a Chicago-area editorial services firm. In that capacity, he has covered technology subjects for more than 15 years for several national publications.
ORGANIZATION: CMPMedica, www.cmpmedica.com
VENDOR OR SOLUTION PROVIDER OF CHOICE: Convera Corporation, www.convera.com