Medscape Business of Medicine: An exclusive conversation with Senior Director Leslie Kane

Leslie KaneRecently Kantar Media marketing director Mike Morrow spoke with Leslie Kane, Senior Director of Medscape Business of Medicine, to learn more about the unique ways this popular resource for healthcare professionals has grown and evolved since its launch.

Ms. Kane is the former editor-in-chief of Medical Economics magazine. Ms. Kane has served on the Board of Trustees of Valley Hospital in Ridgewood, NJ. She has a master's degree in clinical counselling and has held corporate positions in marketing, business reengineering, and advertising.

Mike Morrow: Thanks for joining me, Leslie. It sounds like 2017 is poised to be a particularly exciting year for Medscape Business of Medicine, on the heels of a very productive and successful 2016. Tell us a bit about Medscape Business of Medicine, just in case some of our readers aren’t as familiar with what you’re doing.

Leslie Kane: Medscape Business of Medicine is a content initiative core to the audience of Medscape, which is the leading source of clinical news, health information and point-of-care tools for physicians and other healthcare professionals.

Medscape Business of Medicine in particular focuses on the non-clinical issues of medicine – the business and practice management challenges of being a physician today. Our audience includes physicians in any situation, whether they're employed or self-employed, small practice, large group, all of whom are wrestling with issues of strategy, practice models, finances, payment and insurance and more. They have to deal with matters of contracts and negotiations, productivity targets, and patient issues.  All physicians employed and self-employed alike, are dealing with EHRs, legal concerns, malpractice threats, reputation management—what people say about them online—managing and dealing with staff and colleagues, and overall figuring out how to be in charge of the direction of their career and how to make it profitable for them. 

These are all Business of Medicine issues. They involve big decisions that affect physicians’ income and career satisfaction. And the information is crucial for all physicians, primary care specialists, and other health care professionals. 

There really aren't any doctors who say, “Well, I know my science but I don't need to know all this other business information, that's not why I went to medical school.” Too much water under the bridge since then, and the world has changed. Business, finance, practice management, strategy—they are so much more important than ever before. Doctors know that, they all feel that. And so that's one reason why they turn to Medscape Business of Medicine.

MM: Just anecdotally, I’ve heard so much of the same concerns from my own physician, or family members in medicine, about how much more pressure there is for them to be businesspeople in addition to good clinicians. It definitely seems like you are “scratching an itch” that is unique among professional healthcare media.

LK: Well, we think so. You know, there have been studies that indicate that for every two hours of patient time, a doctor has a minimum of one hour of paperwork and EHR reports and administration. So their time for being a physician is not only being cut into, but they have to know what they're doing. All these other things, they have to do them right. Otherwise they start losing out.

MM: How has the reception been? I’m sure our readers would be interested in hearing how Business of Medicine evolved within the overall Medscape brand, and what the past couple of years have been like and what your readers are saying.

LK: It's been an amazing evolution. We actually started a number of years ago, maybe six or seven, enhancing the Business of Medicine site and the response was amazing. Physicians started pouring in, physicians were reading like mad, so we knew then that we had a tiger by the tail and had to keep building it. And our physicians’ regular readership has blown through the roof. 

We've done articles on business strategy, running a practice, and we get hundreds of readers writing in with comments, thanking us for our articles. We get terrific engagement from readers, lively discussion and responses. Tablets are very popular, and digital was big, so we had this idea to try a digital magazine to reach our physicians through another venue. It was really eye-opening: people were really going for the digital magazine.

Medscape Business of MedicineAfter about a year, we decided to essentially print out the digital magazine to see what would happen. We printed it out and brought it to some conventions and distributed it at medical conferences and got such an amazing response. Initially readers said, “You know, we never knew that Medscape had this, this is the exact kind of information that we’re looking for.” They wanted to know where they could get more of it. We realized a print publication could introduce a wider population of physicians to Business of Medicine, and we decided to launch the magazine. It evolved as a response to the great reception that the content received.

MM: I think it's so interesting; we had a similar conversation when we when we talked with Kristy Hammam from WebMD as well, about this kind of non-traditional approach. So often we see print brands that are struggling to find their voice in digital and trying to find an audience and figure out what their digital strategy is going to be. And here you seem to have done a remarkable job of flipping that model on its ear—starting out in the digital world, moving into a tablet edition and then launching a successful print platform off of that.

LK: Thank you, I think that's a good observation. It came organically. We just did something and it worked, and we went with the flow in that direction.

MM: On that same topic, perhaps you can take a moment to talk about what the integrated platform of print and digital means not only for your audience and the physicians who read Business of Medicine, but also for your marketing partners and your advertisers. I imagine that opens up some interesting new opportunities for them.

LK: I would say so. First of all, being in the print magazine is terrific exposure. And with this digital edition on the web you can get a lot more mileage, a lot more exposure because when you have a digital edition you can send it to people, you can advertise it in different places. You’re hitting different types of audiences who consume content in different ways.

MM: And I know that there are some other pieces of the Business of Medicine platform as well, like surveys and physician insights, slideshows and coursework.

LK: Yes, that expansion is one of the things that happened when we started doing a lot of annual survey reports that showed the current state of physicians in different areas. Because we have such a huge audience, when we do surveys we get thousands—in some of our surveys we’ve had more than 25,000—of physician responses. For example, the annual Physician Compensation report is now in its seventh year. 

We also publish a physician lifestyle report, a malpractice report, an EHR ratings report, an ethics report, and others. So not only do we take the pulse of the physician community but we get tons of pick-up and exposure with trade and consumer media. There are many respected media outlets that turn to Medscape as a source of information and insights into physician opinions, points of view, behavior and attitudes. These reports and surveys provide relevant insight into what physicians think and how they are responding to changes in medicine, practice and healthcare technology.   We get huge physician readership for all these reports because doctors know by now that Medscape is the state of the art for national surveys in all different subject areas. 

Another thing to mention, that we launched this past year, is the Physician Business Academy. This is basically a business program for physicians; what they didn't learn in medical school but specifically need to learn to practice successfully and to choose how they'll practice in the new environment. We have self-testing courses that professionals can take to get a certificate or CME. We’ve made it digestible, interesting, and fun, with great information that is very helpful. So we’re expanding in multiple directions.

MM: I read a stat from one of your surveys that “88% of physicians come out of medical school feeling unprepared for the business aspects of being a physician,” so I can see why the Physician Business Academy is so relevant.

All of these different pieces speak to some of the unique ways that Medscape Business of Medicine is working to deeply engage the physician and clinician community. I'm interested in learning a little more about any other plans you have coming up—what’s in the works to even better engage your audience that potential advertisers might want to hear about?

LKWe do! We’re doing a lot more video, and we have something called Medscape TV for both physicians and consumers. With the Business of Medicine, we have a very well-known ethicist that we work with, Dr.  Arthur Caplan, doing shows where he takes controversial subjects—should physicians have random drug testing, should physicians get involved in gun control, physician-assisted dying—and we debate them with experts in the field. 

We're also doing a lot more on mobile. For example, we’re optimizing our slideshows and important surveys for mobile platforms, so that a user can digest it more easily and go through it wherever they are, which also opens up interesting and appealing advertising opportunities.

MM: Leslie, thank you for sharing some of the things happening at Medscape Business of Medicine with me and with our media buyers. Are there any other takeaways you’d like the media community to have about what’s happening at Medscape Business of Medicine?

LK: Something that is truly unique about Business of Medicine and Medscape is our perspective. Of course, we have depth of information, but perhaps even more important is our perspective on the changes in the medical profession. 

We understand and have sympathy for these physicians who are facing and trying to successfully manage these significant hurdles -- complex reporting  requirements, changes in how they are reimbursed, and more—but we also don’t automatically jump on bandwagons either. We try to look at what is happening and evaluate what is vital to know and what's just a lot of words.

While we encourage doctors to ease into the changes today’s landscape requires, we know that the implementations are sometimes difficult, expensive, and time consuming. Some suggestions and recommendations out there you really have to look at and ask, “Is this going to create the desired result? Does it make sense for our audience?”

Physicians know that they can come to us to separate the wheat from the chaff. They trust us to be on their side and help them move forward. As doctors need to become more skilled, with all the changing forces within the practice of medicine, we are the place they turn. And that can only improve care.

Editor’s Notes: For more information about partnering with Medscape Business of Medicinefor advertising and marketing programs, click here.

At the time this post was written, Medscape Business of Medicine was a paid advertiser in the multimedia planning platform.

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