Physician referral directory revamped for 2010

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Doctors using The Little Blue Book for patient referrals will be able to decide how they want to use their thumbs — for page turning or mobile app navigation — when a revamped edition launches next quarter.

Although younger docs are expected to embrace the mobile form of the directory, older docs between the ages of 45 and 65 write the most prescriptions, and they "heavily prefer" the print version, according to MDHub president David Shrier. MDHub was formed in order to acquire The Little Blue Book, purchased from WebMD last September.

Around 150,000 docs, or "one-third of the actively prescribing docs in the US," buy the book each year, and another 140,000 receive free circulation copies sponsored by pharma companies, said Shrier. Doctors use the listings "two to three times a day on average" for patient referrals, offering marketers a high-frequency venue for ads, said Shrier. "We did an IMS study on 96,000 physicians, and found that we produce at 20:1 ROI in three months for advertisers," he said.

The mobile version of the directory will provide "things the print book can't do," like advanced searching, said Shrier. Docs will be able to search for "an anesthesiologist that accepts Aetna and practices at Greenwich Hospital," for example, said Shrier, adding that health plan acceptance information is one of the more valuable data fields collected in the book, along with practice associations.

The 2010 Little Blue Book will be published during the second quarter, concurrent with the launch of the mobile app, and will offer a listing of physicians sorted by specialty, among other new features based on physician feedback, according to Shrier.

MDHub, based in Darien, CT, is managed by several former WebMD and pharma executives, including CEO Joe Grace, formerly SVP online marketing and product development at WebMD.

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