Blogging about Blogs, Part 4: Emergency Medicine Cases

This is the 4th in a 6 part series:“Blogging about blogs”, edited by Anthony Llewellyn (hetimeddir) and Teresa Chan (@TChanMD). Click on the following links to see previous posts on: Life in the Fast Lane; St. Emlyn’s; and CanadiEM

This blog is an interview by Teresa Chan with Dr. Anton Helman of Emergency Medicine Cases. Colloquially known as “EMCases”, it has about 90,000 podcast downloads per month, and approximately 40,000 page views per month.  Additionally, they currently have 17,000 registered website users per month that read blog posts, listen to podcasts, download e-books, post comments, and fill out questionnaires.

EMCases podcast and blog is run by a team of nearly 20 people, including Anton’s brother Garron Helman, and fellow emergency physicians Lucas Chartier and myself.  He also has a number of resident physician editors, including Claire Heslop, Keerat Grewal, Taryn Lloyd, and Michelle Yee.  Anton also has an advisory board that includes residency program directors (John Foote, Joel Yaphe), Clinician Educators (Shirley Lee, Rick Pencier), and other physician leaders from the University of Toronto (Howard Ovens, Walter Himmel, Eric Letovsky, Sanjay Mehta, Kuldeep Sidhu).


Q: When did you start your blog?

A:  March 2010.

Q: How would you describe your blog?

A: Emergency Medicine Cases (EM Cases) is a free, online, medical education podcast, medical blog and website. We are Canada’s most subscribed emergency medicine podcast with thousands of subscribers, almost 2 million podcast downloads since 2010 and are proudly part of the #FOAMed community. In each episode,  two or more experts on a particular emergency medicine topic join me in a round-table, case-based discussion on practice changing clinical emergency medicine topics, which are then edited to maximize learning.

Q: How would you describe your audience?

A: Emergency medicine residents, physicians, nurses, paramedics and aspiring medical students.

Q: Can you describe your process for generating content?

A: For podcasts, the topic is chosen either based on a needs assessment or at the discretion of the chief editor. Expert guests are invited for the round table discussion, and sub-topics are mutually decided upon. The chief editor researches the topic and produces a rough outline for the podcast, where the experts are asked a series of questions. Many hours of editing are done afterwards to make the podcast engaging and educational. Written summaries are created by a team member and edited by the chief editor. These posts are available on the website as well as via the EM Cases app, Evernote and DropBox.

Q: What’s your technology stack (i.e. how do you host your site, how do you code it, do you have a CMS, do you use any integrations e.g. Facebook, Twitter, Google etc…?)

A: Webpage/blog is hosted by Hostgator and feveloped by a professional website developer on WordPres; SEO by Yoast Plug-in;Sharing of content to social media outlets (Twitter, Google Plus); Podcast metrics by Bluburry; Website metrics by Google Analytics; Email blasts by Mailchimp; Security by WordFence.

Q: What’s one interesting thing you have learned through the process of developing a MedEd blog ?

A: Through the process of developing EM Cases and collaborating with others, I have come to know myself better and build resilience. Over the last 6 years, I have developed self-understanding, improved my interactions with others, gained meaning beyond myself and have adapted a positive approach to my work; all of which has fed into successful professional and personal earning and improved job satisfaction.

Q: How do you pay for FOAM? 

A: EM Cases is funded by and owned by the non-profit academic institute Schwartz-Reismann Emergency Medicine Institute (SREMI). I believe that all quality FOAM resources should be funded by Universities and/or academic institutions. Other ways of helping to pay for FOAM include: paid courses that are affiliated with the FOAM resource, voluntary donations from FOAM users, and offering CME credits for specialized paid content that is associated with the FOAM content.