AAOS Bulletin - June, 2005

2005 Bulletin readership survey results

“A satisfying read” with plans to add value

By E. Anthony Rankin, MD, and Lewis Jenkins

Six times a year, the Academy publishes and mails the Bulletin—the Academy’s “other” journal—to approximately 20,000 member physician offices. Every issue is filled with important news and developments affecting the specialty of orthopaedics. During its more than 50 years of continuous publication, the Bulletin has been redesigned and reformatted several times. Each time it is renewed with improved news coverage, opinion and editorial insights that keep it fresh and appealing.

Several of these redesigns have been prompted by member preferences, as expressed in regular readership surveys. Periodically the Academy asks its members to talk about their preferences and Bulletin reading habits. Earlier this year, a focus group and a mailed survey explored reader attitudes and perceptions of this socioeconomic voice of the orthopaedic community.1

Reader satisfaction

Overall, most AAOS fellows are quite satisfied with the Bulletin. In fact, on a scale from 1 to 5 where 5 is “very satisfied,” 70 percent of readers are in the top two measures (Table 1).

The Bulletin is also a regular “read” for most fellows. Nine out of 10 acknowledge reading four or more Bulletin issues annually. About half of you read it in your home (49 percent) while the other half read it in the office (50 percent). Most skim the issue, stopping to read articles of interest.

Focus group participants gave a simple explanation for such high Bulletin readership—relevance. Survey results showed that two-thirds of the Academy’s members selected 4 or 5 (on a 5-point scale) when rating the professional relevance of the Bulletin’s content (Table 2).

Also, readers were quite clear in their opinions of 20 different informational categories that appear during a year’s editorial cycle. Asked to judge the coverage these topics received as too little/just right/too much, more than half of the survey respondents found coverage of all categories just right. But, it’s notable that the survey measured stronger feelings too. Among the 20 categories, six garnered just right ratings of 80 percent or higher; eight categories received just right ratings between 70 percent and 80 percent; and four categories had just right ratings between 60 percent and 70 percent.

Across 14 different Bulletin editorial features, readers were most satisfied with informational topics that have a direct bearing on their practices. The strongest features included coding, patient safety, practice management, the CME calendar/meeting schedule, orthopaedic legal issues, national health policy issues and orthopaedic hot topics (Table 3).

It is instructive to note that several topics—coding, reimbursement issues, practice management solutions and professional liability—were judged as having too little coverage.

In the coming months, these topics will be addressed with new features and expanded coverage.

Finding information in past issues of the Bulletin was deemed important by a number of readers. In fact, 57.5 percent of readers indicated they would like to see an annual cumulative index of articles for the Bulletin. However, a significant number of readers (87.9 percent) were not aware that there is a searchable version of the Bulletin available online that can help direct them to a specific topic or issue. In response, we plan to develop an article index for readers and will make it easier for readers to find the Bulletin online.

Bulletin vs. competition

There is intense competition for your attention and preferences among non-clinical publications like the Bulletin. Three are mentioned frequently as alternate sources of non-clinical orthopaedic information — Orthopedics Today, Medical Economics and Orthopedic Technology Review. Yet the Bulletin is favored by about two-thirds of fellows. In fact, many fellows in the focus group were somewhat critical of the editorial practices of these competing publications. Still, most Bulletin readers read multiple non-clinical publications (Table 4).

Although many of the survey results show aspects of the Bulletin in a positive light, the analysis also found that a significant number of readers have somewhat ambiguous feelings about the publication. On the five-point scale measuring reader satisfaction, 24 percent of these fellows chose 3—loosely interpreted as neutral.

Further analysis showed that these fellows want more editorial coverage in the same areas as their more satisfied colleagues (practice management, coding and reimbursement), and we plan to address these needs in future issues. As a result of planned improvements, we hope that the Bulletin will deliver greater benefits to all fellows, as well as engage this group of “fence-sitters.”

Based on the information from these studies, we know that the Bulletin is well-regarded, almost universally read and contains information that is relevant to orthopaedic surgeons. However, in today’s highly contested competitive environment, we plan to improve the Bulletin by focusing on key, pragmatic areas that benefit your practice.

Looking forward

This issue, for example, contains a number of articles that address the concerns expressed by our readers. You asked for more information on coding and reimbursement issues, and you’ll find it in our Coding Corner as well as in articles on efforts to have the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services adjust relative value units for orthopaedic procedures and recognize the differences between primary and revision total joint arthroplasty. A sharper focus on Bulletin coverage of practice management issues also is in the works.

This issue also introduces a new feature focusing on the work of AAOS committees. The initial spotlight is on the Professional Liability Committee. This committee will also be introducing a regular risk management feature later this year, in direct response to your concerns. In addition, the committee’s highly regarded newsletter, Orthopaedic Medical Legal Advisor, will be incorporated into future issues of the Bulletin.

If you have ideas, concerns or questions that you think should be addressed in the Bulletin, I urge you to submit them. You can e-mail your ideas to aaoscomm@aaos.org, or send them to AAOS Bulletin, 6300 N. River Rd., Rosemont, Ill. 60018.

E. Anthony Rankin, MD, is editor-in-chief of the AAOS Bulletin. He can be reached at erankin@aol.com. Lewis Jenkins is director of marketing for the AAOS. He can be reached at ljenkins@aaos.org

1. The study included one focus group among fellows attending an Academy surgical skills course in November 2004; the survey was mailed to a randomly selected sample of 2000 fellows in January 2005. An 18 percent response rate was received, yielding +5.1 at the 95 percent confidence level.

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