Grand Rounds, brought to you by GlaxoSmithKline

OK everyone, I've been kind of quiet regarding the recent controversies on hosting issues. Partly it was because of a punishing intern schedule, partly because the hosts are doing a great job sorting this out themselves -- but mostly because of a big deal I had in the works.

Over the past few weeks I've been negotiating with a team at GlaxoSmithKline. They want to "get into this blog business," and we're looking for ways expand the readership of mdical blogs. I saw an opportunity.

Since its inception, Grand Rounds, the weekly compendium of the best in medical blogging, has exemplified two principles: 1) there's no better way to learn about healthcare than from those in the field and 2) self-promotion is a powerful motivator.

Glaxo recognizes this, and they want to capitalize. It's the high quality of written submissions, the creative hosting efforts, and brazen opportunism that have make Grand Rounds great -- and led us to this unique new collaboration.

So, starting this week, the GlaxoSmithKline homepage will run a link to Grand Rounds every Tuesday morning! Also, Glaxo drug reps will start handing out cards with the URL of the Grand Rounds archive to doctors and students they identify as "computer-oriented" or "loners."

Now, in return for this torrent of traffic, Glaxo has asked for something in return. They would like each host to run a link to and, as appropriate, to individual product sites. The hosts can choose to whether to place this link in the body of the Grand Rounds post, or high up in their blog's sidebar. Hosts can also choose the color of the text.

This ties in closely with something else: Glaxo will be encouraging more "theme" editions. Now, some of the best Grand Rounds have featured themes. These new themes will revolve around some of the drugs Glaxo makes.

For instance, the upcoming April Fourth edition will be hosted by a urologist, and so will naturally feature submissions on erectile dysfunction. Specifically, posts about Levitra will be prominently displayed up at the top of Grand Rounds.

While I suspect this may ruffle some feathers, I want to stress that bloggers can write whatever they want about Levitra -- Grand Rounds is still very much an open forum (though representatives from Glaxo have asked to evaluate each submission before its inclusion in Grand Rounds; the hosts will comply). If you're worried about participating in some kind of viral marketing campaign, remember: Glaxo makes antivirals.

The biggest upside of this new partnership and Glaxo's "theme" editions: if enough bloggers link to these Grand Rounds posts on Levitra, google searches for Levitra will start to point to the hosts page! That's a bonanza of hits, people, and it could finally give medical blogging the mainstream audience we deserve.

So, as I see it:

  • Advantages: Huge exposure, more popular theme issues, relevant posts grouped together

  • Drawbacks: None that I can think of.

  • So, that's it. The Medscape Pre-Rounds series will continue, but will obviously change its focus -- instead of featuring the upcoming hosts of Grand Rounds, more of an emphasis will be placed on GlaxoSmithKline products and achievements. Bloggers, start thinking about Paxil, because the host for 4/11 is Anxiety, Addiction and Depression Treatments. And readers, prepare to be dazzled!