Wolters Kluwer's online move injects life into health business

Wed Mar 27, 2013 6:33am EDT
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By Sara Webb

ARNHEM, The Netherlands, March 27 (Reuters) - Digital doctors like Nicholas Haining and Frank Bosch are changing the face of medicine and the way publishers such as Wolters Kluwer make money in the stagnant or low-growth North American and European markets.

Tablet computers and smartphones are almost as essential as a stethoscope in the modern medic's kit, with doctors calling up medical journals, databases, reference works and patient records on these gadgets as they do their hospital rounds.

As a result, Wolters Kluwer is increasingly selling information in electronic rather than printed form - a change that has allowed the Dutch company to increase margins and retain subscribers.

"Medical students used to have to memorise things like the branches of the trigeminal nerves. Now they would look it up," Dr Haining, a pediatric oncologist working in the United States, told Reuters.

"You are no longer a walking encyclopedia, there is no need to have all the information in your mind, because you can get the best available data and draw on evidence-based medicine."

Boston-based Dr Haining said he uses UpToDate, which Wolters Kluwer bought in 2008, to access clinical evidence that has been reviewed by experts in the field.

Wolters Kluwer competes with Reed Elsevier and Reuters' owner Thomson Reuters , selling specialist publications and software to bankers, lawyers and accountants, as well as to doctors and scientists.

The company last year derived a fifth of total revenue and profit from its health division, which sells more than 100 medical journals as iPad apps.   Continued...