Social Media Spotlight: Clinical Reader

MDNG Primary CareAugust 2009
Volume 11
Issue 8

The aim of Clinical Reader is to "bring academic content together and create a semantic digital medical library" by building a "user-friendly platform that will enable medical professionals around the easily interact with the latest developments in their respective specialties." Clinical Reader CEO and founder Allan C. Marks, MD, explains the origins of the site, what he has planned for the future of Clinical Reader, and more.

New England Journal of Medicine, British Medical Journal

Lancet, JAMA


The aim of the Clinical Reader website is to “bring academic content together and create a semantic digital medical library” by building a “user-friendly platform that will enable medical professionals around the world to easily interact with the latest developments in their respective specialties.” Site visitors also have access to editor’s choice selections, world health news, medical podcasts and blogs, and even medical studentfocused content. The “Multimedia” section pulls up the latest videos from the , and other journals, and also puts , and podcasts, among others, all at the user’s fingertips. Images and slideshows related to the content in top journals are also easily accessible with Clinical Reader.

This certainly isn’t the first website to aggregate clinical medical content across a variety of formats. So what sets Clinical Reader apart from similar resource centers? One distinguishing feature is the site’s sleek, visually appealing, and multimedia-rich format that allows users to scroll across publications and easily find the content and areas of the site for which they are looking. Another is the intuitive site navigation; the top medical journals are on display right from the homepage, and clicking on the selected specialty journal takes the user to a page on the Clinical Reader site where the most recent articles can be accessed. This combination of sought-after content and user-friendly navigation makes the site worth frequenting.

We recently spoke with Clinical Reader CEO and founder Allan C. Marks, MD, about the origins of the site, what he has in store for the future of Clinical Reader, and more.

When did you come up with the idea for Clinical Reader, and what has been the user response?

We launched on June 29, 2009, just shortly after the release of the 2008 Journal Citation Reports by Thomson Reuters, which provided the new impact factors for medical journals. The concept was born a year prior, following a conversation I had with an eminent London professor about how the Internet has changed medical research. He turned to me after I had mentioned RSS and asked me what on earth it meant. It would appear this was commonplace among junior and senior doctors whom I saw were not receiving the full benefits of Medicine 2.0. How to best implement this idea was greatly helped by the launch of Alltop last year, and there’s no question that our site has been heavily infl uenced by Guy Kawasaki’s preachings on RSS. Alltop aims to serve as a magazine rack for the vast general public and non-techies who don’t use RSS. It’s a really great site. After contacting Guy in the early days, he asked me to produce a top list; I’m responsible for the “England” section. The resource collection of the top journals and API development of Clinical Reader soon followed. The user response has been excellent, with recurring comments about how clean our site is and how information is seamlessly displayed.

How can doctors get the most out of this resource?



Advanced doctors will use Google Reader as their general source of RSS. Clinical Reader is focused on the 99.5% of docs who don’t stay up to date using RSS, but who will visit numerous sites and subscribe to eTOCs (electronic table of contents) all leading to e-mail inbox filling and information overload. With Clinical Reader, no knowledge of RSS is required, no subscription is required as the site is free, it’s attractive, and it allows busy clinicians to browse recent developments in their respective specialty, the latest health headlines, multimedia, and more. There are over 30 clinical specialties, with more to follow. We’re very keen on developing specialist resource collections. Some recent additions include a page collating all the top content from , the top 30 open access medical journals, and top medical and Health 2.0 blogs.

You have a Twitter account for Clinical Reader. Have you found that Twitter has lead people to your site? Would you say that it has been an effective way to engage your audience?

From the medical point of view, Twitter is a social media tool used by experienced Web health professionals and is an excellent place to discover new links, breaking news, and engage with likeminded individuals. The Twitter community is able to disseminate information quickly to their fellow twittering peers. It’s also a great place for testing new resources and obtaining opinion, as the Twitter community is made up of early adopters. However, this medical community is small and their voices are often loud. While positive comments are good, it is very easy to attract negative comments. We have certainly learned from our early tweets how not to use twitter. I’m now responsible for all the tweets representing Clinical Reader (you can follow me @allan_marks). We see effective engagement with our audience through medical institutions, academies, medical schools, medical libraries, and publishers. We’re looking forward to seeing Clinical Reader grow.

As you move forward, what features do you plan to add to the site?

We’re working with the OpenCalais API to introduce an element of semantic functionality as our user population grows. We’re also working on a customized Clinical Reader called MyJournals, which will allow users to add journals that are featured on, and also external to, the site. Users will be able to share what they are reading with friends and colleagues; the user interface to do this will be made as simplistic as possible. An iPhone application is also in the works and will likely launch with MyJournals. BlackBerry and Palm Pre optimization will follow. We recently created a resource profiling the top medical iPhone Apps; hopefully, we’ll see Clinical Reader in the US and UK top 10 soon.

Let Dr. Marks know what you think about Clinical Reader; e-mail suggestions or comments to mail@

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