"ACP Internist" Amuses and Informs

Colin T. Son


June 16, 2009

The American College of Physicians (ACP) is the United States' largest physician specialty group, representing 126,000 internists and internal medicine trainees. Like many similar organizations, the ACP puts out a number of publications, including the peer-reviewed Annals of Internal Medicine. One thing that sets the group apart, however, is its extensive use of the Web to publish a variety of material, including the well-read blogs ACP Hospitalist and ACP Advocate.

The blog most dear to many readers' hearts, however, is ACP Internist. As profiled in a previous Pre-Rounds column, this particular blog focuses on digesting medical news and turning it into quick and easily readable summaries and commentary.

As senior editor, Ryan DuBosar -- along with an incredible staff -- makes both the print and online editions of ACP Internist function. In the following interview, he discusses the evolution of how medical news is delivered to physicians.

Colin Son: What benefits do you think the blog offers to ACP physician members?

Ryan DuBosar: Beyond the humor, we're really trying to expand the type of content we offer to our readers and the media by which we do so. Our core mission hasn't changed: to deliver clinical news to physicians. But there are so many ways that physicians want to be reached that we're creating new media streams to accommodate them. For example, some audience members don't want the print edition, for environmental reasons or as a time-saver. They want Web, RSS, or blog feeds. We're trying to reach out to doctors in the way that they want to get news and perspectives.

ACP Internist hosts Grand Rounds
June 15, 2009


Colin Son: What role do you think social media can play in the future of healthcare and in communication between physicians and patients?

Ryan DuBosar: We all have friends who've abandoned email and only communicate through Facebook. So ACP has its own Facebook page now, and the ACP Internist and ACP Hospitalist news feeds are delivered through that page. If someone doesn't want a crowded email box and they unsubscribe from our weekly email push, we haven't lost them as readers. Or, if they want RSS feeds instead, we can accommodate that.

We've recognized social media and its impact on the doctor-patient relationship. In a recent ACP Internist article, staff writer Stacey Butterfield interviewed physicians about the topic and found that ideas for using Twitter in a medically meaningful way included communicating the results of studies to patients, keeping up on best practices among colleagues, and gaining insight into patients' healthy (or not) lifestyles outside the office. In another article, we described how communities of patients are using social media to conduct studies of drugs and disease states and report the information in ways very close to peer-reviewed studies.

Colin Son: What are the staff's favorite posts on the ACP Internist blog?

Ryan DuBosar: "Medical News of the Obvious" is generally a good series. A lot of the studies we mock are social and behavioral ones. The behavioral studies feel soft and fuzzy, and sometimes it's being generated by academic PR departments trying to drum up publicity.

Favorites include a story about how physicians view their jobs:

Dreading the end of the holiday weekend? You'd probably never have guessed but the problem may be that your work is not meaningful to you, a new study reports. The survey, published in the latest Archives of Internal Medicine, found that academic physicians who get to spend at least one day per week doing something meaningful (isn't that a depressing standard?) are less likely to burn out. In other shocking news, submitting preauthorizations to Medicare didn't top the docs' list of meaningful activity. They preferred patient care by an overwhelming margin, followed by research, education and admin. An accompanying editorial concluded that physician employers should try to ensure that there's good "career fit" between docs and their jobs. Sounds like a major employment opportunity for all those physicians who find insurance paperwork deeply meaningful.

Another favorite looked at some new federally funded research findings:

Attention, parents! Swimming lessons for young kids do NOT increase their risk of drowning. In fact, the lessons "appear to have a protective effect," the NIH pronounced. (Your tax dollars at work, folks.)

Some studies are almost too absurd to believe, although the writers always provide links to the original sources:

People are more likely to eat expired food if they already own it, a group of researchers offering rotten smoothies discovered. "Our results help explain why a person might consume expired food that they found in the fridge, but not consume expired food found in a friend's fridge," a study author told the Washington Post.

Not that ACP Internist only pokes fun at the medical world. In fact, this week the blog serves as host to Grand Rounds, the weekly collection of favorite blog posts from other medical bloggers. Grand Rounds offers the opportunity to familiarize yourself with the host's blog while sampling a variety of writing from across the blogosphere.