Guest post: Tough economic times present opportunity for publications

By Brad Dodge on April 20th, 2009

I asked Bob Mitchell, managing editor of ADVANCE for Health Information Executives, to share his thoughts on the state of the industry from a publication's point of view. Here's what he had to say:

Times are tough everywhere. And, while I’m not standing in a soup kitchen line, I’m horribly saddened by the way the U.S. economy has headed south.

I blogged on ADVANCE for Health Information Executives’ Web site in December 2007  about what I saw as the tea leaves that the economy was tanking after the sub-prime housing market meltdown. That blog entry was insightful about where things were headed.

Yes, the economy is tough, but it has led me to explore things I thought I’d never do.

More blog posts; an up-tick in Web site visits and activity, and more opportunities for me to step outside of my comfort zone. You see, I majored in journalism in college, and had only two courses on video editing, as part of my journalism education. That’s all. The rest of my course load consisted of news writing courses (several news writing courses, in fact. The first day of a news writing course during my sophomore year started with the instructor, Dick Conrad, an investigative reporter for the New Haven Register, handing each of us a slip of paper with a street address written on it. We had to perform a title search on the property, visit the property, find its tax history, who had owned the property, talk with the homeowner/business owner, and write a news story about our findings). My fellow classmates and I were perplexed. What did this have to do with journalism?

It has everything to do with journalism; and are the tools and knowledge I still use today; albeit in cyberspace.

So, what does this say about health IT trade journalism?What it says is that that innovation and creative will dominate our work, and those of us who will do our best work are the ones who have the training and experience to look beyond our notepad and pen, and will seek out new ways of telling the CIO’s story.With the growth of multi-media opportunities, CIOs and other IT executives can now tell their stories live…err, well, almost live, with the benefit of video and/or audio sound bytes. Who knows, maybe some day a CIO will be able to take our attentive and interested readers down the halls of their hospital or health system, and give live tours or demos of new technology that has been implemented. Wouldn’t it be neat to be there – live -- when new technology ‘goes live?’

Yes, we’re doing more with less, but we’re also providing quality content, whether written, a standalone video, or video/audio that accompanies the written word. With these new opportunities we’re finding that CIOs are coming to our Web site more frequently and staying much longer. They’re watching videos, reading our articles and listening to our CIO podcasts. And as more CIOs read, view and listen to our online content, we’ll engage a new group of interested subscribers; those who may not have read our print publication but are now visiting our Web site regularly.

A few years ago, the content on our Web site was not as strong as it is today. We had fewer CIOs writing for our site. However, today we have a nice mix of CIO authored articles and articles written by health IT industry luminaries.

And, that, I must say quietly, IS A GOOD THING!

Bob Mitchell is managing editor of ADVANCE for Health Information Executives.