Growing the Market for a New Database – A Case for Board Vitals
LBA Profile/CaseStudy
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Priscilla L. Stephenson, MSLS, MSEd, AHIP
Chief, Library Service
James A. Haley Veterans Hospital & Clinics, Tampa, FL

Marketing is critical to the success of any new library resource, but particularly for electronic products. These are, no doubt, our libraries’ most expensive purchases, but they can also be the least visible. Patrons need to be shown how to locate and use these products in order to appreciate their value to education, research, and/or patient care. Without a marketing program, there’s a good chance that unused resources will not be renewed due to lack of demonstrated interest, and our investments of both time and money will be lost.

In 2014, the library at James A. Haley Veterans Hospital and Clinics (Tampa, Florida) evaluated Board Vitals database ( for possible purchase. Board Vitals is a certification and board exam test preparation resource with test questions covering a variety of health specialties. Nurses, physicians, dentists, and pharmacists use Board Vitals to prepare for license, certification, and maintenance of certification (MOC) exams. The library started with a small introductory collection of 10 test packs to evaluate the product. During the trial period, librarians demonstrated the product to the Associate Chief of Staff for Education, the Internal Medicine Residency Program Director, and the Director of Education. These leaders liked the program and supported its purchase.

In August 2015, the library purchased a full package of 43 Board Vitals test banks covering medicine, dental, pharmacy, and nursing specialties. Information about Board Vitals was added to the regular semimonthly orientation programs for new employees and to presentations to residents. Throughout the year, we distributed flyers, submitted news items to the hospital newsletter, and emailed messages to key groups, such as the Nursing Education Committee and clinical service departments, advertising the scope and availability of the product.

By the end of the first year, in August 2016, usage statistics showed that 115 hospital employees had registered for Board Vitals, and that there were 73 active users. The most used files were the AANP Family Nurse Practitioner, NCLEX-RN, and Psychiatric-Mental Health Nurse Practitioner tests. The next largest group included Internal Medicine (both the basic program and MOC), Psychiatry, PANCE (for Physician Assistants), Gastroenterology, and the USMLE Step 3. The program had registered 864 hours’ usage by Haley employees.

The library held a promotional event in February 2017. The Board Vitals trainer came for a full day of 30-minute scheduled demonstrations in the library’s training room. The Medical Media department developed a poster that we distributed as a small flyer via email to the hospital newsletter and various clinical staff mail groups. The full-size version was posted on stands outside the library. About 50 people attended in person, with another 25 attending via Skype.

During the next year, we observed a phenomenal increase in Board Vitals’ usage. Physicians and nurses would come to ask about the program they’d heard about from colleagues. By August 2017, there were 173 active users, a 136% increase over the year before. The top programs in 2017 were the NCLEX-RN, Psychiatry, AANP Family Nurse Practitioner, Otolaryngology, and the ANCC Family Nurse Practitioner test banks. Total usage for all test banks that year was 3,754 hours – a successful growth of more than 300% over 2016.

In 2018, we held an open house event during National Library Week, with vendor demonstrations from Board Vitals and three other vendors. Again, we sent notices of the event to education committees, residency directors, and clinical department chiefs. Overhead announcements reminded people on the day of the event. While the event attracted only a modest number of attendees, about 100 people, usage in 2018 increased another 15% to 199 active users. For the first time, physicians predominated among the top user groups. Test banks for Radiology, Dermatology, Psychiatry, Otolaryngology, Pain Medicine, and NCLEX-RN were the most used. Total usage for all modules was 5,454 hours – a significant increase of over 40%.

We used a variety of methods to promote Board Vitals, so it’s difficult to say which ones worked best. The usage data shows us that it is a success with our clinical staff. Our marketing efforts should continue, because there will always be new staff and others needing to prepare for new or renewal exams.

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