Q&A Session with Rick Watson, CMO of Pri-Med

Lisa Astor

At PAN, we pride ourselves on understanding not only the PR landscape for our clients – the media outlets, events, awards, social channels and influencers; we’re also keen to clearly and fully understand their businesses. Without a good understanding of our clients’ solutions, services and histories – coupled with a deep understanding of the markets they play in – we can’t utilize the PR tools at our disposal as effectively.

With that in mind, we want to spotlight the business of one client that is generating a lot of interest in the healthcare space. Pri-Med, well-known for educational conferences for primary care physicians, has expanded its potential to influence how clinical decisions are made with the acquisition of Electronic Health Records provider Amazing Charts.

PAN’s Vice President in Technology & Healthcare Lisa Astor sat down with Pri-Med’s Chief Marketing Officer Rick Watson to share more about Pri-Med’s evolving business, his role at the company and how PR is impacting its growth.

Interview with Rick Watson, Chief Marketing Officer at DBC Pri-Med, LLC

Q: Tell us about Pri-Med and your role.

I lead a team of about two dozen professionals who develop, market and operate continuing medical education programs for clinicians in 30 cities around the country under the Pri-Med brand. Up until the mid 1990s, our category was mostly served by medical schools and associations, so a large, for profit educator like Pri-Med is a relatively new concept.

Q: Pri-Med recently acquired electronic health records (EHR) vendor Amazing Charts. Tell us about the impetus behind that decision.

Like most information businesses in the digital age, continuing medical education has changed quite a bit in the last decade., Thanks to online CME, doctors now get about 45% more CME hours than they did a decade ago and about 50% is consumed online. Also, as the volume of global medical knowledge now doubles every three years, clinicians need to be equipped to pair specific new insights with specific needs of patients in their own practice.

At Pri-Med, we believe that the obvious next step in improving healthcare delivery is providing clinicians with access to real-time, evidence-based knowledge and resources customized to their needs and as defined by their patients’ health. Our business is no longer just about producing educational conferences for live physical audiences, but learning how best to deliver decision support to clinicians trying to better treat their patients at the point of care.

Currently over two-thirds of primary care clinicians use an EHR in their practice, up from 46% in 2009. And, this number is expected to continue to climb as government incentives take effect.

It has been exciting to talk to clinicians and begin to reimagine an EHR as a real-time education instrument. We are learning ourselves, but truly see the potential not only to help patients but to also make the practice of medicine more enjoyable and efficient for clinicians.

Q: You’ve said delivering data-driven recommendations and tailored patient care is mission critical. Can you expand on that?

Physicians and other healthcare providers are mandated to complete anywhere from 12 to 50 hours of CME annually. This can be a lot of time away from the practice. That is very quantifiable. The problem is that the direct benefit to patients of these activities, while often very positive, is harder to quantify. For example, does taking an education activity and learning about a new treatment intervention lead to better patient outcomes and fewer complications?

We can do a better job today of understanding the correlation between CME and patient outcomes. Utilization of EHR systems to integrate clinical data analytics and CME will facilitate more prescriptive education designed to specifically meet gaps in knowledge and care while improving patient outcomes.

Q: To those who may not work in your industry, what’s the most important thing you’d like to tell them about Pri-Med?

In the US, healthcare spending is 17% of GDP. We are by far the #1 per capita spender, but what we get for that in terms of health outcomes, doesn't even put us in the top 10. Pri-Med began as an education conference company for primary care doctors, but our future will be shaped by our ability to help the whole clinical team make more efficient and effective treatment decisions for patients. We want to be part of the healthcare delivery solution in the US. Over 260,000 heath care professionals, representing over 69% of all office-based clinicians have trusted us with their education already and we don’t take that lightly. We will continue to work hard to give clinicians and their practices the support and tools they need to provide better outcomes to their patients and families.

Q: What would you say are the greatest benefits from working with your team at PAN?

PAN brings a lot of energy and insight to our business and the guidance to help us build stories that resonate with both the local doctor and national beat writers covering health care policy. They bring a sizable team with diverse experience to our business and they are fun to sweat the details with. Also, when the unexpected story comes along, they are quick to help you frame the right approach.


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