Both publishers and librarians are invested in a successful launch of a new electronic resource, so we decided to start the conversation with librarians who have recently added new resources in order to learn more about this process and the best practices for a successful launch. We talked with two librarians about a relaunch of UpToDate at their institution.
Contacts: Jie Li, Assistant Director for Collection Management; Geneva B. Staggs, Interim Director
Institution: University of South Alabama Biomedical Library
How was the availability of the new product communicated to users?
The availability of UpToDate was communicated to users with messages sent to faculty and staff through the university-wide mass email system to all health sciences colleges and hospitals, articles in Biofeedback, the library’s newsletter, and social media posts, such as Facebook. Announcements were made in committees of which librarians are members.
How far in advance of the launch did this communication take place?
We did not publicize it until the database was on the website and access assured. We knew it would be joyfully received and did not want to put the word out until we were sure it would be available.
How did you know it would be so well received?
Some history might be interesting. At one time the university hospitals had a subscription and the physician practice had a second subscription. The library has always been on the academic side of the institution, not the hospital side, so the library was not involved in negations for either subscription. There was a lot of overlap in the list of users. In 2010, when money became tight, the university health system canceled both UpToDate subscriptions. Because users did not know the library was not the subscriber, the library was asked regularly to reconsider and resubscribe. For five or six years, every survey the library sent out came back with multiple comments requesting a subscription. The library was able to use these requests from our physicians, residents, and students when communicating with the administration about the need for additional resource funding. We also collected comments from committee meetings such as the Graduate Medical Education Committee, Evidence-Based Practice Committee, Patient Safety, and others that have library involvement about point-of-care resource needs and specific resources they prefer. Because UpToDate is an expensive resource, we had to have a strong case to get the additional funding. Communication with our key users justifies our reason for funding. It took about a year for us to communicate with the stakeholders and the administration to guarantee the funding for the product.
How long did the communication continue following the initial launch?
The dissemination of publicity-type information ended fairly soon, but we continue to spread the word about the availability of UpToDate through our reference assistance, group orientations, and sending out update information from the company. We also continue to help patrons with private subscriptions convert to our subscription and troubleshoot with the hospitals’ IT department on behalf of those with access issues. Information about the database is available in brochure displays in the libraries.
Did you have any specific goals for marketing/promotion?
Our number one goal with UpToDate, as with any of our information resources, is to provide our users with the tools they need to take care of patients. The mission of the hospitals is to help people lead longer, better lives through its excellence in education, research, and medical care. To support this mission, we want our users to have the information needed to make solid, evidence-based, patient care decisions by providing access from wherever they are (onsite, remote) and in whatever format they need (phone, tablet, laptop, desktop), including an Infobutton in the hospitals’ electronic health record. We were pleased to see that all these access options are available in UpToDate.
How successful was the launch, and what factors help you determine the success (i.e., measurements of the achievement of the goals you had set forth)?
It was very successful launch. The usage in the second year has increased 29.41% over the first year. Linking from Lexicomp and VisualDX makes it more convenient to use the product. During the initial implementation of the university’s new electronic medical record, the HL7 Infobutton was not fully implemented; this functionality will be added later. Meanwhile, a link on the toolbar makes it more convenient for people to use UpToDate.
Any lessons learned? How will these lessons affect your marketing plans for the next new information source you license for your patrons?
Any resource the library plans to add needs to have users’ input, especially core users.
Based on your experience, what advice would you offer fellow librarians?
Communication with core users is the key.