How to Carry Hundreds of Medical References in Your (Lab) Coat Pocket

This is an excerpt from Inkling’s recently published case study, Modernizing Medicine with Mobile-First Content: The Elsevier Case Study. To download and read the rest of the case study about mobile publishing for medical content, go here.

Diagnosing the Challenges for Better Mobile Content

This year, more than 80% of doctors in the US will use both a tablet and smartphone every day as part of their practices, and they’re overwhelmingly using these devices to access information critical to patient care. Now more than ever, it’s vital that content providers for medical professionals build engaging mobile solutions.

Elsevier, as world-leading provider of scientific, medical, and technical information products and services, knows this better than anyone. Recently, they turned to Inkling to help them revamp two of their most popular digital products, the Expert Consult and Student Consult online portals. With a library of more than 850 titles, the two sites get one million hits a month combined and serve more than half a million users globally.

However, in the last few years, Elsevier saw the need to upgrade the two sites. Back when most of the Expert Consult and Student Consult titles were originally digitized, the digital landscape was a much simpler place, with online access mainly confined to web browsers on large desktop PC screens. Many physicians, students and health professionals around the world need to access information in remote areas, whilst traveling and outside their institutions. With no offline access and an inconsistent experience online not made for mobile browsers, users were unable to fully benefit from Expert Consult and Student Consult.

Elsevier, therefore, wanted to adapt its extensive library for the mobile workplace to better serve its users. While they had several objectives for this project, we’ll focus on one in this post: How could Elsevier better engage their Expert Consult and Student Consult users with absorbing mobile content, available anywhere, anytime?

The Prescription: Reflowable Design on Inkling’s Mobile Publishing Platform

From massive medical reference books to tiny tweets, content is increasingly consumed on mobile devices, and users expect that content to adapt as adroitly to a smartphone as it does to a large desktop computer screen. And Elsevier was looking to help its content smartly adapt for any screen. “We took on this project to create a cross-platform digital library of beautiful and interactive medical titles with Inkling,” said Paul Dever, the Technical Product Manager for Elsevier Clinical Solutions, eBooks.

Mobile-first experiences are in Inkling’s DNA. The company started with an iPad reader app and has since expanded to all major consumer mobile devices, as well as the web. And when content is created and stored within Habitat, Inkling’s cloud-based authoring and editing environment that specializes in mobile publishing, there exists one canonical version that can then be turned into outputs for just about any device and format, such as Inkling’s reader environments, ePub, InDesign, or a company’s proprietary systems. It’s even easy to preview how the content will appear on just about any screen size without the hassle of actually checking it on multiple devices.


All of this is possible because of the responsive design Inkling bakes into every piece of content produced on its platform. Through reflowable layouts and native readers for different devices, the content is automatically adapted on the fly for each screen, providing the seamless cross-platform experience users now expectbut without the need for Elsevier’s content developers to customize the XML for each format.

A Clean Bill of Health: Results

In February and March of 2014, Elsevier rolled out the new version of their Expert Consult and Student Consult platforms to over half a million doctors, students and medical professionals around the globe. Instantly, all users had access to their medical textbooks and reference books anywhere, from desktop computers to tablets and smartphones. More than 850 complex titles had been transformed into beautiful, consistent, well-structured content that can be treated both as a database of trusted information and as a great reading experience.

Within two months of launch, the results were clear: rebuilding the content for mobile devices led to increased customer engagement. Not only did mobile readership skyrocket by 50%, but users were also explicitly accessing the mobile versions of their titles to search for the info they needed, with more than double the number of search queries on mobile devices than on desktops.

An increase in mobile engagement is just one of the many positive business outcomes Elsevier achieved by partnering with Inkling and leveraging our mobile publishing solutions. They also had success in creating a better user experience, improving their eBooks’ designs, and empowering internal content developers to be more invested in digital content production. Get the full story by downloading the case study here as both a PDF and an interactive eBook.