Advanstar Communications announced a new strategic direction for its Healthcare Group, focusing on digital distribution and continuing medical education through a centralized physician portal at

Existing Web sites for Advanstar’s five primary care publications—including Medical Economics—and seven specialty care publications will be integrated into The portal will also offer article summaries from 300 peer reviewed journals, coding and reimbursement tools, formulary status tools, a library of CME programs, customized patient education, and coverage of more than 80 medical conferences. Content is free but access requires registration and Advanstar expects more than 100,000 registered users in 2008. "At a time when pharma is challenged, this allows you to have a revenue stream beyond just pharma," says Steve Morris, executive vice president of Advanstar’s Life Science Group. "We don’t want to make this just another CME site. This really broadens the idea of what a portal site should be."

That broader business focus includes partnering with traditional competitors, including CMP, which is offering its Search Medica search tool to, as well as Quadrant, which is offering a CME planning tool. "People recognize they may not have the assets to build something this big but maybe they can partner with us and get a revenue share," says Morris.

The shift includes some significant changes for the print titles. In February 2008, Advanstar’s print magazine Drug Topics will start publishing five editions each month, including the print edition and four digital variants, while Contemporary Urology ("fourth in a three-book market," according to Morris) will fold into Urology Times, a leader in its category. Advanstar is also launching a direct-to-consumer magazine called In the Know that will be distributed in the offices of dermatologists and cosmetic surgeons. In the Know has opened up new national consumer accounts, including brands like Estee Lauder and Clinique. "The PERQ scores just came out and while there were 41 journals measured last year, there were only 35 this year," says Morris. "Fifteen percent of the titles dropped out of the market. This is according to the best measure of the world as it was."

The site is also offering a video series, including live surgeries followed by a discussion panel (one eye surgery generated more than 3,000 downloads)."Advertising is morphing into more project work," says Morris. "Almost everything is done with three or more tactics–print, Web and digital magazines."