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    Sara Freeman, MedWriter, reports on another successful NetworkPharma MedComms Lunchtime Briefing - " Doctors and the Internet: What do they do and what do they want?".

    This second NetworkPharma MedComms Lunchtime Briefing, which was kindly sponsored by DJM Digital Media Solutions, provided an opportunity to discuss the Internet and how doctors and other healthcare professionals are, or could, be using it.

    Dr Kamran Abbasi the CEO and Editor-in-Chief of OnMedica gave a presentation highlighting the “New World” of online medical information, which is steadily replacing printed sources and medical meetings as the primary means of getting professional healthcare information.

    Today, GPs are faced with a mountain of printed information that they are expected to digest and learn from each week. Kamran pointed out that this “pile of paper“ was overwhelming for many doctors and one of the key drivers towards their increasing use of the Internet.

    He described the “information paradox”, a term coined by Muir Gray who said: “Doctors are overwhelmed with information yet cannot find the information they need.”

    Finding this information is made more difficult in the “paper world”, said Kamran.

    The BMJ, of which Kamran was a former acting/deputy editor, has been at the forefront of getting information online. When a survey was undertaken to see which sections of the journal people were actually reading there were some interesting findings. Doctors were reading the news and editorials at the front, but then skipping to the obituaries, job ads and Minerva at the back.

    Perhaps more shocking was the finding that very few people were reading the original research papers, and of those that did, just 1% would get past the abstract on the first page and read the entire paper!

    The BMJ was one of first journals to publish original research online; Kamran’s view is that less original research will be printed in the future, as trial information and results are increasingly being made available online first. Printed journals will need to rethink what information they provide, he maintained, as any journal just printing original research will soon find themselves outdated and, presumably, unread.

    Kamran noted that has three times the circulation of the printed journal, and the majority of doctors are coming to the website via Google. Most of these visits are to view a specific article found whilst searching the net, with 19% of doctors looking for specific information on a medical condition or treatment, 11% looking for medical news, 10% for information on medical advances, and 6% for recruitment.

    Education was a key reason for doctors using the Internet. Kamran noted that there is increasing pressure in the UK to undertake educational activities but that there is less spare time to do it in. Importantly, health authorities are starting to discourage doctors from attending physical meetings, preferring them to remain on-site to undertake their professional learning.

    Kamran believes that the Internet offers the solution to the information paradox, and websites like, OnMedica and Doctors.Net.UK provide educational content that can help doctors keep up-to-date in their own time. He noted that almost all UK doctors are now online and very soon all of them will have broadband.

    OnMedica provides high-quality educational information written by doctors and experienced medical journalists. Sponsored content using educational grants from the pharmaceutical company is allowed and is clearly indicated. Such content provides a source of revenue to enable the site to continue providing the independent content that their audience has come to expect and trust.

    It also provides the sponsor, usually a pharmaceutical company, to reach out to a wider audience of thousands of GPs in a couple of days, rather than over the course of a few months or a year as can be the case using more conventional printed methods.

    There are many other websites out there of course and Kamran noted that their objective was almost always to create a community of users. He emphasized the need to “keep it simple” – and used the example of the Apple iPod and Google to show how simplicity on the outside can belie the complexity within.

    As a final word, Kamran said that finding healthcare information on the Internet would become second nature for all doctors, if it hasn’t already for some.

    To make sure you're included in announcements about future events just email Peter Llewellyn, if you haven't already done so, to register your interest.



    Sponsored by DJM Digital Solutions
    DJM Digital Solutions

    LED BY:

    Led by Dr Kamran Abassi

    Led by Dr Kamran Abbasi - A physician turned editor, Kamran has been acting editor and deputy editor of the BMJ, editor of the Bulletin of the World Health Organization, and is now editor of the Journal of the Royal Society of Medicine and CEO and editor-in-chief of OnMedica. Before joining OnMedica he worked for Dr Foster Intelligence as their medical director. Kamran is also an honorary senior lecturer at Imperial College, a visiting lecturer at Westminster University, and a patron of the South Asian Health Foundation. He is an internationally renowned cricket writer with his own blog on


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