AMA makes Web site more doctor-friendly

The redesign aims to make the Association's vast array of online resources easier for physicians and patients to find and share.

By Kevin B. O’Reilly — Posted Feb. 9, 2009

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The American Medical Association in late January launched a revamped Web site to make it simpler for physicians at every stage of their training and careers to access information they need to practice medicine, help their patients and shape the health system's future.

The site's address is unchanged (link).

"The new AMA Web site presents a wealth of valuable information designed with physicians' needs in mind," AMA President Nancy H. Nielsen, MD, PhD, said in a statement. "For example, there are easy-to-find clinical references and continuing medical education programs to help physicians build their clinical knowledge. There are also tools that can help physicians more efficiently and effectively manage their practices."

One of the major goals of the makeover, said AMA Senior Vice President and Chief Marketing Officer Marietta Parenti, was to make the site more intuitive.

"We have designed the new site around the users -- the way they want to see the content, the way they think about it," Parenti said.

The project went into high gear in July 2008 when the AMA hired the interactive marketing arm of Ogilvy & Mather Worldwide Inc., an advertising and public relations firm.

Information is organized into categories such as education and careers, legislation and advocacy, and medical journals. Each of these links features a mouse-over menu that pops up to show some of the most popular resources in each category.

The site's most heavily visited areas, such as DoctorFinder, CPT and FRIEDA Online, are easy to get to from any page. Also, American Medical News is prominently featured on the home page.

Content within the site now can be reached through multiple entry points. "Before, there was a very linear path because you'd have to go through so many clicks," Parenti said. "I described it as the journey to the center of the Earth."

AMA 2.0

Research for the site included focus groups with physicians who completed exercises showing how they would organize information as site users. More than 1,100 physicians were surveyed on using the AMA's old site. The redesigned version's usability was tested with 15 physicians observed as they completed tasks.

As with the old site, users may print or e-mail content, but now they also can share content via Web 2.0 services such as Facebook, LinkedIn, Delicious and Twitter.

The AMA "has taken a turn for the positive when it comes to their Web presence," said Shama Hyder, owner of the Dallas-based online marketing firm Click to Client. She was not involved in the redesign. "This new Web site is very user-focused. It is well-structured and makes navigation much easier."

Hyder said she liked the site's slightly updated color scheme because it conveys "professionalism and warmth at the same time."

Some areas of the site have not yet been redesigned, but soon will be.

"The launch of this site is not the end; it's the beginning," Parenti said.

"We are dedicated to continuously enhancing and adding new content and new features and new applications because that's how we'll continue to deliver value. The site requires daily care and feeding, like a pet."

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