Knowledgespeak Exclusive: An interview with Stella Dutton, CEO, The BMJ Group -


Knowledgespeak: Earlier in February this year, BMJ Group announced the worldwide adoption of the Best Practice product. Briefly talk about this product and also any other initiatives that the company plans to launch in the near future


Stella Dutton: Best Practice is a gold-standard point-of-care decision support tool for clinicians and healthcare professionals. Clinicians can quickly access key actionable information that maps to the doctor-patient workflow to support clinical decisions on assessment, diagnosis and treatment during patient consultation, and from within the electronic health record; helping the practice or hospital to manage and reduce risk, and improve patient outcomes at the point-of-care. We are very pleased with the worldwide adoption of Best Practice.

Best Practice will also form part of a new mobile app, coming soon, called “Doctors Toolbag.” Developed by the BMJ Group and the Centre for Evidence Based Medicine, University of Oxford (CEBM), the app will provide healthcare professionals with smart and easy to use clinical prediction rules at the touch of a button, to help improve patient care.

Other recent products and future plans include:

We recently launched a new journal BMJ Open as an important contribution to increasing open access to the peer reviewed medical literature. The BMJ itself was one of the very first open access journals, providing free access to the full text of peer reviewed research articles since 1998. We are committed to improving the way clinicians and clinical scientists communicate to help them make better decisions in all aspects of healthcare and research, in order to improve outcomes for patients. BMJ Open is a new innovative channel for rapid and highly accessible dissemination of peer reviewed medical research.

BMJ Case Reports, our open access repository of over 1700 cases was recently awarded the ALPSP Best New Journal Award.

In the Spring, we are launching BMJ Supportive & Palliative Care. This is a vitally important area of healthcare and one which is currently under-served by scholarly literature.

Our BMJ Journals division has had a number of successes in winning contracts to provide publishing services to journal owners.

ActionSets are the newest service from the BMJ Evidence Centre. ActionSets are order sets, or checklists, based on clinical evidence and organised as care protocols. ActionSets cover up to 90% of acute admissions, and enable an evidence based reduction in mortality, cost and complication rate. Our current customers are hospitals based in the UK and the US.

Evidence 2010 is a new international conference that aims to be the leading evidence-based healthcare event at the forefront of EBM debate and innovation. The conference is a collaboration between the BMJ Evidence Centre and the Centre for Evidence Based Medicine, University of Oxford (CEBM), and will be held on November 1-2, 2010.


Knowledgespeak: According to you, what are the unique characteristics of the medical publishing industry, when compared to the scientific publishing industry? Given these unique characteristics, what are the major challenges that you foresee for publishers like The BMJ Group in the near future? How well is BMJ geared to tackle these challenges?


Stella Dutton: The big opportunity in health is the growing international demand for healthcare related services rather than traditional publishing. Quality improvement is a good example. Healthcare commissioners seek ways of delivering more for less, and this opens up new business models that move beyond traditional subscription to payment based on outcomes. The Group has been investing in such services and business models for the last ten years, and as a result, we feel optimistic about the future and the potential for sustained growth in difficult economic times.

One of the other unique features of medical publishing is that our readers are frequently not our authors – clinicians and other healthcare providers are often not the people engaged in conducting and publishing medical research. We need to ensure that we provide high quality publications which provide access to the original research whilst balancing this with more front half material which provides valuable resources to help healthcare professionals make better informed clinical decisions. An example of how we’re doing this is the BMJ – we have invested heavily into improving the magazine content of the journal for the 130,000+ clinicians who receive the print journal each week, whilst developing a highly interactive which meets the needs of both the clinical and the research communities. The success of this strategy can be seen in the research which shows that BMJ is now the most read weekly journal in the UK, whilst also showing continually increasing traffic to the website.


Knowledgespeak: Ghost writing of medical research papers has been criticized by a variety of professional organizations representing publishers, medical societies as well as the drug industry. What, according to you, should be done to tackle ghostwriting in the medical literature?


Stella Dutton: First and foremost, it's important to clarify what is meant by "ghost writing". This term comes from the literary world and is often misused in scholarly publishing, wrongly equating it with "employing a professional medical writer".

The BMJ Group’s policy is that there's nothing wrong with using such a writer as long as their contribution is fully disclosed.

Full policy here:

And here's what the BMJ Group is doing to tackle this:

When authors pitch ideas or articles to us, we ask a series of questions to determine who prompted this submission.

We have clear guidance on authorship, on declaring competing interests, and specific advice on research articles.

We ask for assurance that a study funded or sponsored by industry follows the guidelines on good publication practice. We also ask for assurance that any article written by a professional medical writer follows the guidelines by the European Medical Writers' Association.

We also have a transparency policy. All of our guidance on this and related issues is pulled together in one place: policies/transparency-policy


Knowledgespeak: The advent of technology and the Internet with Web 2.0 interactivity have streamlined the process of researching information. How does BMJ Group approach / utilize the Web 2.0/social networking phenomenon?


Stella Dutton: In a whole host of ways - from adding links to related information sources, so making it easier for readers to find relevant content, to improving discoverability through Facebook and Twitter links, to improving engagement with our readers through blogs and podcasts, to building whole new community sites like our innovative and highly successful Doc2doc site.


Knowledgespeak: Publishers today are increasingly making content available in mobile format. What does mobile technology mean for the future of publishing?


Stella Dutton: It means a great deal. Whilst the introduction of smartphones has driven the need for our sites to be optimised for such devices, the advent of the App Store has created the opportunity to open up the whole b2c market in new and innovative way. From apps that keep users up-to-date to highly functional uses of our content.

But we believe the advent of the newer tablets, led by the iPad, is the development that could have most impact on publishing. It creates a medium that can so smoothly deliver the magazine reading experience and enable that experience to be delivered worldwide at a fraction of the cost. Its impact could be massive. Just wait and see the BMJ on the iPad in a few weeks time!

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