The theme of this issue, communications, is a perfect place to share an update on our strategies relative to publications and information resources. Indeed, exciting changes are under way.
It is interesting to reflect on how the world of publishing has changed over the last 20 years, first with the introduction of the Internet, and second with mobile technology. Publishing has been transformed from an activity geared to creation of a fixed product, be it a magazine, journal or book, to something far more complex. The changes taking place are the most profound in the 550 years since the invention of the printing press.
• First, publishing has become an ongoing and interactive activity.
• Second, professionals and consumers have come to expect that they can find information when they want it, where they want it, on the device of their choice.
• Third, publishing has become a multi-media endeavor. Many top publications are published digitally and integrate elements of video, social media and other interactive features.
• Fourth, with responsive design, the benefits of the “app” may be going away, as responsive Web design provides opportunities for a more robust destination.
• Finally, publishing has become a highly technical field, with its work closely linked to website design. Today, one’s content management system, digital technology and taxonomy (information classification system) have become indispensable aspects of the publishing enterprise.
As one example of the new age, we launched in January a new version of our weekly electronic publication, ASAP, that provides a lively digest of key updates and offerings, with links to internal and external content.
Until recently, ASA has lagged in this new digital age of publishing. However, there are several initiatives under way at ASA that will, over the next year, transform the member experience.
• First, ASA has created a new department for Publishing and Digital Content, essentially bringing old and new media together in a single department. We are now engaged in a national search for a director.
• Second, ASA launched the Website Improvement Project in January. With the guidance of the Ad Hoc Committee on Website Oversight, ASA staff and contractors will be inventorying all content, organizing it for optimal access, developing a taxonomy and improving our Web technology. Already, these improvements have led to a doubling of members’ searches on the site. Member feedback about our old site was crucial in helping to develop the upcoming improved website. A priority will be placed on implementing the recommendations (see below) from the Ad Hoc Committee on Information Resources.
• Third, we are in the early stages of planning a new electronic version of our indexed peer-reviewed journal Anesthesiology. The electronic version will provide for more interactive features, semantic search, and links with ASA content and resources.
• Finally, and perhaps most significantly, is the work of the Ad Hoc Committee on Information Resources.
In 2012, then-President Jerry Cohen, M.D. appointed the Ad Hoc Committee on Publications (now Information Resources). Its purpose was to assess member needs and interests and best practice, and to recommend a strategy and investments for the future. The committee was originally co-chaired by Drs. Jane Fitch and Arnold Berry and is now chaired by Dr. Berry. Members of the committee are listed below.
On August 10, 2013, the Ad Hoc Committee on Publications assembled in Rosemont, Ill., for an all-day meeting that set the tone for ASA’s communications efforts now and into the future. The meeting was a culmination of a years-long effort to amass data from surveys, focus groups and consultation with experts to pinpoint our members’ needs and determine how best to meet them. This productive meeting was driven purely by data and was guided by experts from both ASA’s membership and staff. Research was conducted by the media research organization, the Matalia Group.
• ASA members value the society, but many do not feel their need for clinical information is being met.
• Satisfaction with some communications initiatives/products is relatively low compared to the satisfaction of peers in others specialty associations.
• Members want stronger communication and greater access to all resources. Members were largely unaware or could not locate key ASA resources, such as standards and guidelines as well as educational and departmental resources.
• Education, practice guidance and advocacy form the foundation of ASA membership.
Armed with data gathered from thousands of individuals from all demographics, ASA and its outside partners were able to narrow our communications focus to a few most desired by the membership (in order of priority):
1. A new periodical – separate from the journal Anesthesiology – that would meet the significant demand for practical clinical content useful for patient care and practice decisions.
2. Maintenance of Certification in Anesthesiology (MOCA®) CME microsite on the ASA website. Members expressed a strong desire for a more efficient and transparent way to fulfill education requirements.
3. Standards and guidelines microsite. We were very pleased to learn that ASA members value current standards and guidelines very highly – they do, however, wish to access them in more convenient and intuitive ways.
4. Advocacy microsite. As with our standards and guidelines mentioned above, ASA’s advocacy work is well regarded, but new methods of sharing advocacy and legislative information are desired by the membership.
Incidentally, The ASA NEWSLETTER you’re reading right now continues to receive favorable reviews from the membership, but there’s always room for growth. In the coming months and years, proposed improvements to the NEWSLETTER include addition of more clinical content, a sharper editorial focus, and perhaps user reviews of relevant products and services.
I’ve been hearing from many members on my recent columns, with questions, suggestions and comments. Please feel free to let me know what you think of the directions outlined in this column.
As you read the feature articles in this issue, I hope you agree that ASA’s Committee on Communications, with support from the ASA staff, is doing a wonderful job of broadcasting our messages within ASA to policymakers and to the public, and doing so in every medium available. Communication takes place during every encounter, big and small. Unfortunately, its importance is frequently overlooked. Effective communication involves training and focus. Nitin Nohria, dean of Harvard Business School, said, “Communication is the real work of leadership.” I couldn’t agree more. That’s why our communications strategies are such a large part of our strategic plan. You know how important you are to medicine, but many outside of the specialty don’t. We’re going to change that – through the kind of focused, persistent, data-driven messages that only leaders can supply.
Ad Hoc Committee on Information Resources
(formerly Ad Hoc Committee on Publications)
• Arnold J. Berry, M.D., Chair
• Amr E. Abouleish, M.D., M.B.A.
• Donald Arnold, M.D.
• James C. Eisenach, M.D.
• N. Martin Giesecke, M.D.
• Jeff Mueller, M.D.
• Beverly K. Philip, M.D.