2 doctors have radiology field abuzz CD-ROM: Drs. Michael McDermott and Thorsten Krebs have launched a CD that contains more than 3,000 radiology images of the body as well as instructional text. It is selling very well.

February 24, 1997|By Mark Guidera | Mark Guidera,SUN STAFF

In Monday's Business section, the name of the publisher of a radiology software CD was spelled incorrectly. The correct name is Williams & Wilkins.

The Sun regrets the error.

It's been more than two years since Dr. Michael McDermott, at the time a young resident in the University of Maryland School of Medicine's radiology program, began tinkering around with storing and retrieving radiology images on computers.

He was certain that computer CD-ROMS offered an opportunity for vast amounts of medical information to be stored and carried around easily.

FOR THE RECORD - CORRECTION

Physicians no longer should be limited to time spent at the hospital for learning, he reasoned.

Today, what started as a mental challenge for the self-taught computer buff has emerged as one of the fastest-selling CDs in the niche of the publishing industry that targets continuing education for physicians and other medical professionals.

McDermott, now a fellow in interventional radiology at Maryland, and his co-author, Dr. Thorsten Krebs, director of abdominal imaging at the University of Maryland Medical System, titled their release "CD Roentgen." It's a nod to the German physician, Wilhelm K. Roentgen, who discovered the X-ray.

While "CD Roentgen" (pronounced rent-gen) is hardly a household title, the radiology field is abuzz over it.

The CD, released in October, sold out a first pressing of 1,500 in just four months -- far faster than expected by its publisher, Baltimore-based Williams & Wilkens, an imprint of Waverly Press. The publicly held firm publishes books, periodicals and electronic media in medicine, health and related fields.

"We knew we had a strong product, but we still thought it would take at least a year to sell the first pressing," said Charley Mitchell, executive editor at Williams & Wilkens.

In the music industry, the sale of 1,500 CDs might earn little more than a yawn, but in the continuing education market for medical professionals, it qualifies as a best seller, noted Mitchell.

As a result of the unexpected surge in demand for the CD, which contains more than 3,000 radiology images of the body as well as instructional text, the publishing house has ordered a second pressing, some of which will be shipped to France for the European market.

The company also is exploring licensing the title to publishers overseas, who would be allowed to convert the English text to other languages and offer it for sale.

"CD Roentgen's" success also has spurred Williams & Wilkens to move ahead with planning as many as four other instructional CDs targeting continuing education needs in radiology and other fields of medicine, said Mitchell.

The publishing house also is hopeful that the venture's success will help in its recruitment of other medical professionals to author future projects.

Mitchell credits the success of "CD Roentgen" to several factors, namely its image-rich content, ease of use and affordability (it retails for $175, about the same as a professional textbook).

But he also gives a nod to a publishing industry trend: a growing acceptance of electronic media in the medical publishing industry, where dense, content-heavy books still carry the day.

For example, Mitchell noted, Williams & Wilkens now attempts to determine at the time a new book is being planned for publication whether a companion CD also should be released.

Meanwhile, said Krebs, physicians and other medical professionals are growing more accepting of electronic technology as a reliable alternative to the tried and true ways of keeping up with one's skills, books and seminars.

"If a radiologist wanted to take home an entire teaching file, which might be as many as 50 or 100 images, it would be cumbersome, if not impossible," said McDermott, who has spun off from the project a software venture, Coolbreeze Inc. "A

CD-ROM allows you to carry that and a whole lot more in your pocket and to pull it out and learn at in your pace."

In designing and packaging "CD Roentgen," McDermott and Krebs decided early on they wanted the product to be heavy on images and spare on text.

"Radiology is, after all, an image-based skill," noted Krebs. The .. authors also wanted the CD to be easy to use; thus it's been formatted to work in both Macintosh computers and IBM-compatible computers.

Among the features: Radiologists can view cases at random -- there are more than 600 actual diagnosed cases stored on the CD -- or they can selectively choose to bone up on diagnosing specific types of ailments and diseases. Specific regions of the body can also be viewed, and sections of those images can be magnified for further study.

Companion text, such as brief patient histories and statistics for specific diagnosis, are also retrievable.

The CD was designed to allow users to earn required continuing medical education credits in their field by testing their skill and knowledge. Quiz results are printed on a form and sent to the University of Maryland School of Medicine, which independently reviews them and qualifies the physician for the continuing education credits.

In putting the project together, Krebs and McDermott got a lot of help from the University of Maryland's radiology department.

Residents and others working and training in the department, for example, contributed by helping to digitize -- transfer into an electronic format -- radiology images from the university's teaching file for use on the CD.

Pub Date: 2/24/97

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