Roberta Speyer Introduces OBGYN.net to China-OBGYN.net

September 21, 2006

OBGYN.net Conference CoverageOBGYN.net visits China-OBGYN.net in a meeting underwritten by InSightecMarch 2006

Click to view: Roberta Speyer's presentation to the Chinese dignitaries

I was at the Great Wall with my husband and business partner Bruce, and we found this. I thought. “Well, this is very fortuitous”, because Roberta is a very unusual name in the United States. You never see any cups, license plates, or anything with my name on it, and here, at the Great Wall, is my name. So this must be the place I belong. I am very happy to be here with you all tonight.

The presentation here has been made possible by InSightec, which has underwritten our dinner and our presentation. We would like to thank them for doing that.

Here is an introduction by someone who is a very good friend of Dr. Lang’s. It goes back to 1979 when the two of them decided to try something like laparoscopy here in China together. He also was a great inspiration to my husband and myself in starting our OBGYN.net back in 1996. He spoke to me on the phone last week and wanted me to wish you all the very best wishes. He is very proud that we are coming together in the tradition of the AAGL, and the medical books for China that he founded, and working together with the internet, bringing back the next level of communication globally.

As Dr. Xiaoming said to you, this is a first time for us to now have within OBGYN.net, a complete section that is devoted to China, which is CHINA-OBGYN.net. When people come from anywhere in the world now, they can connect right through to this information.

So what is OBGYN.net? This is something that I have been involved with for ten years, we founded the company. Our company was a technical company – we did websites. My husband is a first graduate from the University of Washington in St. Louis, with a degree in computer engineering. It was the first time there was a degree in computer engineering. And I was a florist, you know, the lady who designs the flowers. That is what my family did, but I married a computer engineer and we started a company. We found that this new thing, the internet - we were getting lots of people interested in it, and some of these people we met were gynaecologists. They had a discussion forum, and they would send emails to each other all over the world, about a thousand doctors. It had been started by a resident, Dr. Geoff Klein at Baylor University School of Medicine. He tried to go to the ACOG and some of the big societies, and talk about this. They felt what can a little resident know that could be important to the whole world of obstetrics and gynaecology?

We met him, and we said, “Well should we maybe talk about doing a website for this? Is there a reason to have a website for obstetrics and gynaecology?” and he told me to write to a doctor. I had never done an email; I was mostly just doing things like running the office for my husband’s business. So, I said okay, I can do this. I will send it to one doctor. But I did not realize it was a list and when I sent it to one doctor, I sent it to a 1,000 doctors. Two hundred and fifty doctors wrote back from all over the world, and said, “This is a wonderful idea. How can we get involved? What can we do? How can we make a website for obstetrics and gynaecology?”

It was a mistake, and I sent it to so many people, but it made it become immediately a global project. So, it is the largest website that is dedicated to all these things. He did it all; it was founded by my husband, a very large amount of projects.

Over the years we have had so many contributions; we have 750,000 pages of content now. We have over 300 very elite members of our editorial board all over the world, who contribute and review our articles. There are two million visits every month to the website. When you put in obstetrics with gynaecology in Google, you come up with the first website, you get us.

Over the years from 1996 to the end of this past year, we have grown from no one, to the first night we logged on and 35 doctors showed up very excited, and now two million people a month use it. To put that in perspective, what is two million? It is about the same amount that visits the American Medical Association, the AMA every month. That is, of course, a very well used website for all of medicine, and ours is just for OB/GYN.

What makes it special is our Board. Every section of OBGYN.net, for gynecologic oncology or for maternal-fetal medicine, has a group of doctors that review every time we are going to have a new update of material. They look at it and say is this relevant? Is this good material? Is this something that has value? By using email these people can be all over the world and in 24 hours they can have communicated and agreed, and we can publish so much quicker than was ever possible before.

We have had the discussion forum that was started by Dr. Klein when he was a resident, since 1995, that gets about a 1,000 postings every month. This is the longest discussion forum in English for obstetrics and gynecology. I say 1,000 a month but I know a lot of you here use the Chinese version, and that goes up to 2,000 a month if somebody disagrees.

We have traveled all over the world to many major medical associations, and met many of the world’s most famous doctors. Here I am in Florence, Italy with Leon Sperrof.

Also, aside from being the most famous doctors, this doctor is Dr. Mark Perloe. He started IVF.com, the first website for IVF. This is another reproductive endocrinologist, Leonhard Loimer from Austria. They met through the discussion forum and Dr. Loimer went and studied with Dr. Perloe and stayed at his home in Atlanta. You can see they are pointing to OBGYN.net on the computer screen and they mailed it to me. So it is really a community. Friendships are made.

Here is the first time we did a cyber caf day. It was from ISUOG, International Society of Ultrasound Obstetrics and Gynaecology from Edinborough. Of course, since they were in Edinborough, the entire Board had to wear kilts. So we thought you might enjoy that!

One of our doctors, Professor Braun, makes all his residents use OBGYN.net as part of the course. They presented him with these scrubs, which I think we may be able to market if we can get them made cheaply in China.

We donated the first website for the FIGO that they had. We were very proud to do that. We did it in memory of one of first physicians from Portugal, Ricardo Marques. He went to Somalia to build a women’s health clinic. Unfortunately while he was there, there was an insurgent uprising and at the age of 33 he was killed. It was the first time we lost one of our Board members. That was a very touching thing because he was so young, and he exemplified everything we believed in about global collaboration. So we decided that the best way to honor him was to donate the website. We created the logo, and the people you see in these pictures are not models. They are real people: the wife of Dr. Loimer and the physician, Professor Lapidus, who is a perinatologist from Argentina. Our doctors are what FIGO adopted as their logo to represent obstetricians and gynecologists around the world.

One thing that came after a while was the “Need to Feed the Baby”; as you say, the baby grows, and the baby needs and wants and needs and wants. We were very lucky to meet people from industry, very early on, that believed in us. One of those was Klaus (inaudible), seen here in a restaurant. He wants to look at the website more than he wants to eat his tiramisu dessert. He became very excited and he decided to support us, and gave us a grant to help us develop online tools.

The one that they became interested in was the Endometriosis Zone, which is now the largest resource for endometriosis in the world. It has over 40,000 registered members and provides information for patients who suffer from the disease, but also brings together all the specialists who treat the disease. And because, as you all know, it is difficult to get such a large group of experts all around the world together; this gives them a platform for collaboration, which is truly unique.

I want to just flip through some of these other things so you can see the type of work that we do. We broadcast every two years from the Preterm Labour meeting, and we will be doing it next month from Montreux, Switzerland.

Another project we did was for a meeting from ASRM on gonadotropins for IVF. We developed a website that is now translated into seven European languages which is for the First Visit when a girl goes to a gynecologist. What can she expect? We found this to be very popular because young girls are using the internet, and they get very nervous to go to the doctor. We were able to create an experience that went through the steps, and even helped them to fill out some questions that they could bring to their doctor and make them feel a little more comfortable. This was also done with Schering.

Ferring Pharmaceuticals saw it and said, “Let’s do the same thing for IVF. Let’s help women and couples who are going to be experiencing an IVF find out what to expect.” So we developed that.

Some of our latest projects that I am very proud of, and you will all have a copy you will be receiving of the CD. We did the first webcast ever from AAGL, where we covered the presentations and selected symposium and had interviews. We put it together and we were able to get industry to support it, and it has been very well received.

We have also done an online CME; we have a terrible problem in the Unites States with MRSA infections in hospitals. We had 800 doctors come to a live webcast with the experts to talk about new ways to use molecular analysis. That was very good. We worked this year with NAMS, the North American Menopause Society, who switched from doing their CME-basics course as part of their meeting, to only online.

So, a lot of things that used to be done in print or maybe in person are becoming easier to do with the internet.

We also developed a very nice program that I am very proud of. This was a project that was done collaboratively. None of the doctors were together. They each did their portions from their own offices around the country. We were able to put it together and create the presentations, and an introduction by a very famous doctor who treats fibroids. This is Dr. Charles Miller from Chicago, and this is about new ways to treat fibroids today, non-invasively.

So, the future global trends with OBGYN.net and OBGYN.net in China is to take on more of these projects, like the one we just did. This technology is not just being applied to fibroids. It is also being tested in clinical trials for breast cancer, liver, brain, and bone cancers. The education and the ability to manage the clinical trials, to recruit people, to be able to collect the data, and to be able to educate people in distant regions, is truly helped by the internet in a way that was never before possible.

The good news we have to surprise you with tonight is that we have gotten our first collaboration. We are going to be translating the presentation that we were trying to show you earlier. It is going to be translated into Chinese. This is part of what we want to do more of, to take projects, and not just do them in English, but also do them in Chinese because there is a huge population and geographic distribution, which makes the internet the perfect way for you to communicate.

I am very happy also to tell you that this year we have planned to do together a daily pod cast of what is new at FIGO. So, even though it is a terrible burden, Xiaoming, Bruce and I have agreed to go to FIGO, and watch, and report to everyone who can’t be there and let you know what is going on in Kuala Lumpur.

I hope you have a little idea of what we do, and certainly if any of you have any projects, ideas or things that you are doing, that is the way OBGYN has always been: an open door for collaboration. We would love to hear about them.

Thank you very much.

View the collection of interviews with leading Ob/Gyns on gynecology and obstetrics issues in China.