Education is a key component in the AMA’s mission to promote the betterment of public health, so the development of the AMA Ed Hub—the AMA’s education delivery platform—was an important development in their vision to maximize the impact of their content and address the lifelong learning needs of physicians. Gill’s team was originally considering a separate LMS to unify the siloed products, but internal discussions with Gee revealed that they could leverage the existing platform functionalities of JAMA Network to develop the Ed Hub.
“I told her that, brand aside, JAMA Network can actually platform and do the things you're trying to do—different brand, different situation,” said Gee. “If we took all the political issues away, wouldn't that be a solution as well that you could look at? And she was totally open to that, and it really took off from there—just the idea that we might be able to think around those normal department walls and brand walls and try to find a better solution... It just took a lot of partnership time and jumping over hurdles to get there.”
They were able to leverage investments already made by the organization to build out new content and products, thanks in part to having the support of leadership and to a very intentional team structure. They adopted a matrix setup with dedicated resources that allowed for the acceleration of progress, with clear accountability areas for each of their teams.
By committing to reusing preexisting relationships to get as much value as possible and also being very clear about roles and responsibilities to avoid duplicating efforts, the teams moved from inception to budget to development within six months. But moving quickly also presented a challenge as each team engaged with different parts of the business than they were used to, making communication and education extremely important.
“We have a tremendous team of really committed, dedicated folks that buy into the vision and are focused on advancing it,” said Gill “They all bring different skill sets and experiences and speak a different language. And so we have to constantly focus in terms of ensuring that we're communicating effectively, that we're aligned, and there was a lot of education.”
But education wasn’t the only challenge: “What wasn't a challenge?” laughed Gee. “It took a partnership with someone like Julie. What I learned was the partner matters. It's the people that matter, not the strategy, not getting the budget. And every single day, especially the first year, there was something where either our teams or Julie and I had some disagreement. We’d sit down, and we just countered it. We developed a pattern of believing we could always be ‘righter.’ Everyone's always right, but could be a little bit righter. And just trying to work with each other in a way, where the teams got to see that this melding process was a process and not a just one-and-done thing.”
So what is the EdHub, and how is it similar to, and different from the journal platform?
“Ed Hub brings together all of our education portfolio under one umbrella and enables a user to discover everything that we have to offer, “ said Gill. “They can discover it by searching on different topics. They can be focused on different products. But it's really about finding the simplest, easiest way for a user or a learner to discover the education that's relevant to them. In bringing together what was really a diverse set of education, both in terms of a format, in terms of brand, in terms of business model, we had to create a scalable and flexible platform that would effectively serve the unique differences of those products, but do it in a way that was very simple, and consistent, and easy for the user, so that the users' time was really spent learning and engaging in the content; they weren't spending their time having to learn, and engage, and navigate disparate and disconnected experiences.”
In terms of the platform architecture, the teams had to create a scalable and flexible framework to showcase the nuance between products, but make it very easy for the user to engage with content. This required streamlined approaches to content loading and display, but because Gee’s team had already done the underlying work to unite a network of journals, they could hit the ground running when creating a network of Ed Hub content. By keeping the content on the same backend architecture for content and customers, they experienced organizational benefits (both in cost and brand highlighting) as well as user and operational benefits.
“We built Ed Hub on the same architecture as journals,” said Gee. “We didn't rearchitect it, rebuild it.”
And their work has paid off, says Gill: “We have gotten tremendous feedback from users. I would say, in our first year of operations in 2019, we had double-digit percentage growth in terms of digital engagement with our education. This year, it's closer to triple-digit increases in terms of sessions, and course completions, and all those things. And yes, it's a terrific platform, but COVID, and providing education that is helping clinicians deal with that, has been a large part of the engagement that we've seen. If anything, the environment that we're in today, it's showed us that the foundation that we dealt with Ed Hub is excellent.”
When asked about best practices and lessons learned, Gill said, “For me, it comes back to having a clear vision and strategy about what you're trying to achieve. And when you're talking with other areas, whether it's internal or external, it's finding some commonality in terms of those goals and in terms of how the capabilities, the resources, can work together in a way that can complement, accelerate, fill gaps—all of those good things. But it comes down to having that foundational understanding, and alignment, and, I would say, commitment, then to plowing ahead to meet those goals.”
They also recommended identifying the efficiencies to be found in leveraging current technology partnerships and highlighting those to the organization leadership to help with buy-in, and ensuring scalability without sacrificing quality from the beginning to assure the long-term success of collaborative projects. Most importantly, work with a team that's wanting to lead from a place of repurposing existing connections and not just assuming that groups with goals that look a bit different need different tools. Look for synergies. Ultimately, the willingness to question and to be open to being, as Gee said, “a little bit righter,” and partnering with others who share that outlook will power the outcomes that achieve your organization’s vision.
View the full recording to learn more and to see Paul and Julie do a live walk-through of the JAMA Network and AMA EdHub sites.