Two years ago the Chief Marketing Officer of the American Medical Association left the organization to take the helm of a start-up in the continuing medical education (CME) sector that had just launched its own XM Satellite Radio show, ReachMD. On the weekend doctors can tune into ReachMD for 15 minute CME classes and take the tests in real-time on their mobile phones. During the week the radio station beams updates, interviews and analysis of medical news throughout the day.
The company's XM Satellite Radio Show boasts 280,000 weekly listeners, which are almost entirely medical professionals. ReachMD is quick to point out that there about 700,000 active physicians in the U.S.
As of last November, ReachMD went all mobile when CEO Gary Epstein took his company's CME content and packaged it into a free iPhone application. The company's EVP of sales is a former Takeda executive--so some of the 15 minute CME podcasts are sponsored by pharmaceutical companies.
During an interview with Mobihealthnews at the HIMSS conference here in Chicago, Epstein explained that the company decided to launch an iPhone app for two reasons: One, the ReachMD's 15 full-time employees are "very loyal to Apple"; Two, ReachMD's founder Dr. David Preskill's original concept for ReachMD was as a mobile phone-based CME application doctors could use on-the-go.
"The popularity of our iPhone app was astonishing to us," Epstein said. "50,000 people registered for ReachMD after downloading the application on their iPhone to begin using this CME. We have been listed in the top ranks of free iPhone applications in the medical category. In fact, of the 400 or 500 ratings from users in the App Store, the only real complaint so far is that certain doctors want more content that's relevant to their specialty. The approval process to get content on the air the problem, but we already have 35 new shows in the pipeline and every week 12 more hours of new programming goes up to the satellite," Epstein explained.
In May, ReachMD expects to have another iPhone app on the market that enables access to all of its XM Satellite Radio station's content, not just the CME content. During the week ReachMD broadcasts talk radio style conversations about news and trends of interest to the medical industry. This content typically takes the format of doctors discussing issues with doctors, which the company describes as easy listening for physicians.
During the presidential primaries, ReachMD welcomed all of the major candidates onto their program to discuss healthcare reform. Given his interest in healthcare policy, former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich is also a frequent guest, Epstein said. ReachMD also has a partnership with notable online medical commentator KevinMD.
While satellite radio is the company's prime offering, ReachMD's SVP Programming, Content and Editorial Alex Epstein (no relation to Gary) told Mobihealthnews that one of ReachMD's partners is working with the University of California at San Diego to pilot the creation of video segments for some ReachMD content, but as for now only slide sets are available for some of the CME content that ReachMD creates.
Gary Epstein said the company is now working on a ReachMD application for both BlackBerrys and Google's Android-powered phones, too. A next logical step could be to move into other industries, Epstein said. Lawyers and real estate agents also have a continuing education market, too. ReachJD, anyone?