Short Takes On News & Events

Medical Journal Reaches Out To iPhone Generation

By Shefali S. Kulkarni

November 22nd, 2011, 10:10 AM

The QR code — that funny-looking square bar code popping up on billboards, magazines and business cards — is now on the pages of medical and health care journals.

In October, the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) began incorporating the two-dimensional scannable code on at least one study every issue. When scanned with a smart phone camera, the “quick response” code directs the reader to a video of the study’s author discussing his or her research in detail.

Dr. Howard Bauchner, who became JAMA’s new editor-in-chief in July, says he thought about implementing QR codes after seeing them in popular magazines. “I was reading the New Yorker one week, and on the first ten pages there were five QR codes. So I took out my smart phone and voil , they had the first few chapters of someone’s new book,” he says. The JAMA tech staff told Bauchner they could create QR codes for their website within the week.

QR Codes are able to hold up to 14 different types of media including websites, videos and music and can encode more data than a traditional bar code. They are as simple as a Google search to make, and they’ve been making an appearance in the medical and health care field — slowly. According to a Medical Marketing survey, 65 percent of physicians don’t know about the mobile information resource, though experts say their marketing potential for medical workers and health care facilities is immeasurable — especially in a smartphone-friendly world.

JAMA, which has the highest circulation among medical journals in the U.S. at 300,000, will also connect their QR codes to podcast content starting in January. In addition, Bauchner says JAMA along with the other Archive journals will launch a Web app tailored for tablets in that same month. “So in addition to QR codes we are going to have more modern technology of tablet-ready materials.”  The editor-in-chief says that publishing for the iPad and other tablets will be a huge leap for medical journals, because it will merge print and Web readers closer together. The journal is making other changes including new cover art, which Bauchner says can drive more readers to the site and eventually to the QR code. “As one reader told me, I guess this is not your father’s JAMA anymore.”

One Response to “Medical Journal Reaches Out To iPhone Generation”

  1. David says:

    RE: Medical Journal Reaches Out To iPhone Generation

    Well, it’s about time! Most of today’s younger people, those under the age of 40, use iPhones and iPads and email and tweets and many other social media devices and methods. They don’t buy newspapers. They don’t listen to the nightly news. Most of the news gathering done with the slow baby boomers is at least 24 hours old at any given moment. Young people are much more tech-savvy and get their information, moment by moment, from hi-tech devices that provide instant updates. I have to laugh when I see newspapers still being delivered to my neighbors. What a joke! We could learn a thing or two about social media and how it has and will change the world in the future. The AMA sees the advantages. Social media has produced huge advantages! The Arab Spring was all coordinated by tech-savvy people using FaceBook. Same with the Occupy Wall Streeters. President Obama got elected using social media and email donations and by organizing and mobilizing millions of young people to support his campaign using a few tweets. Republicans? They are neanderthals! They don’t have a clue about being tech-savvy. Talk about complete morons! Republicans would like to see social media go away and would like to turn the clock back to the early 19th century. Just ask any Tea Party members. They will tell you that things began to go wrong for them when Alexander Graham Bell invented the telephone. Neanderthals!

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