The fifth iteration of Doody’s Digital Workshop, built around the theme Thriving with changing landscapes and demographics: Using case studies to imagine transformations”, took place in the Chicago area on April 19 and 20. Attendees included representatives of several healthcare societies that have programs in publishing and professional education. This year’s gathering concentrated on the “workshop” aspect by devoting most of the program time to group exercises to explore major strategic challenges.

Dan and I solicited case suggestions from previous DDW attendees and worked with the authors of suggestions to refine the cases for the workshop setting. The specific cases were:

Each participant worked on two of these five cases, based on their expressed preferences, and each case was discussed for about two hours. Later in the workshop, the full group discussed key findings from the case exercises, as presented by the case moderators.

We didn’t overlook “the sage on the stage” format, either. The workshop opened with a keynote speech by Bryan Chapman, chief learning strategist at Chapman Alliance, entitled “Publishing, Learning, and Information Sharing in a Digital World.” Much of Bryan’s talk described the remarkable, 15-year evolution of ONE (Ophthalmic News & Education) Network, developed by American Academy of Ophthalmology. Bryan showed how the development proceeded, from designing for reuse and developing a content classification scheme, to gradually adding new types of content assets and new functionality. This was not, and could not have been, an overnight process!

The one panel discussion, called “Success Stories in Transformation,” featured three very different success stories. First, Lisa Cohen of RSNA described not one, but two transitions in Learning Management Systems at organizations where she has worked. In both cases, improved technology and tireless outreach to stakeholders has resulted in more, and more effective, online education.

The next speaker, Mike McMahon of Wolters Kluwer Health, described the striking evolution of Grant’s Atlas of Anatomy, in terms of repeated enhancements of Dr. Grant’s stellar artwork, the development of digital products to accompany print, and the changes in marketing required to respond to changing buying habits.

The final speaker, Paul Gee of JAMA Network, talked about the transformation of the American Medical Association journals program, first to unify the brand, then to reorient the approach to meet the needs of mobile users. Paul briefly discussed the strongly positive outcomes of increased audience engagement, impact factors, and other signs of health in the journals world.

A Planning Committee of six seasoned professionals in society publishing, education, and management provided invaluable insights to Dan and me in conceiving this novel workshop format and ensuring that we implemented it effectively. These stalwart allies included Tamer Ali of YourMembership, Chris Ballman of SmithBucklin, Maureen Geoghegan of AAOS (doing double duty), Tristan Gorrindo, MD, of American Psychiatric Association, Mark Grimes of American Academy of Pediatrics, and Karen Tracy of Gerontological Society of America.

Dan and I had the privilege of being largely observers at our own workshop, with attendees, moderators, scribes (commercial sponsors who cheerfully volunteered to take notes for four hours), and speakers providing the intellectual energy. Along the way, many attendees had a chance to meet peers from other organizations, and we saw at least a couple of very energetic sideline conversations that seemed to involve common challenges back home. Based on comments we received during and after the workshop, our attendees had an enjoyable and productive time. Dan and I look forward to seeing the productive transformations that will take place at their societies.