Blausen Medical Communications is a leading medical & scientific animation and illustration company that, for the past 21 years, has been designing and creating the world’s “largest library of 3D medical animations.” BMC provided us a review copy of their latest app, Blausen Anatomy & Physiology Supplement ($29.99 on the iTunes Store), which we were able to browse through on our iPads.
We were impressed with not only the quality and detail of the graphics, but also with the alacrity with which BMC’s employees responded to feedback and questions. Perhaps this is why Blausen’s apps, including the Human Atlas, have been downloaded over 240,000 times.
The A&P Supplement app contains over 1,000 3D illustrations and animations (apparently each costing $10,000 to create, making the total app’s development worth about $10 million) separated into 29 chapters, such as The Special Senses and Neural Tissue. Though there is no extensive text (hence Supplement), there is an 1,850 term glossary, accompanying voice-overs explaining many of the animations, and mini-quizzes. When asked about certain features, such as search functionality and note-sharing, the BMC team said those features were currently in the planning or development stage. For the visual learner the app with its existing features would be worth the price.
In addition to the review, we also had the opportunity to speak with BMC’s founder, Bruce Blausen, about the company’s roots and where they plan to go.
Shiv Gaglani, Medgadget: You founded Blausen Medical Communications in 1991. How has the vision changed, if at all, over the last 20 years with the introduction of smartphones and tablets?
Bruce Blausen: When we started we were a pure service-based company. We have been moving towards being an independent publisher/author of our own products. Before smartphones and tablets we really could not sell directly to clinicians and students, but the app store has changed that. To date we have had over a quarter of a million downloads.
Medgadget: What most excites you concerning trends in medical technology and healthcare?
Blausen: In the past there was really only one source of medical information in little watercolor pamphlets. Now we are on hospital websites and have partnered with most of the video-on-demand companies so our content is on the bedside TVs. We are partnering with companies that want to place our content on TV channels within the hospital and of course now we are right in the palm of your hand with our smartphone- and tablet apps. Next we’ll be on the portable robotic units that are increasingly gaining traction in the healthcare environment. What is great is that so many companies are creating incredible medical breakthroughs, such as intraoperative radiation therapy (IORT) or TheraSphere technologies, and these products need animations to help explain. In the future I believe that all EMRs will have rich content associated with most medical terms.
Medgadget: BMC’s tag line was “Alleviating Fears and Concerns of Patients World-Wide” and is now “Redefining Patient and Student Education Worldwide.” Can you elaborate on what that means and how BMC accomplishes that?
Blausen: As my mother was getting older she wanted to understand the angiogram procedure. Well, seeing how nervous she was, I created a video with our stock animations and sent it to her on VHS. She loved it and started sharing it with all of her friends. We have since received countless emails thanking us for creating this or that particular animation. When people are diagnosed with, for example, cancer, they really cannot process the information being given to them. They are freaked out. Our animations help educate them and address their concerns about treatments or procedures. In addition, the Human Atlas has been doing the same for people in 40 countries in 16 languages.
Medgadget: What is BMC’s next product focus?
Blausen: Great question. Our drug atlas is about 50 percent complete. The chemistry and biology atlases will begin when we have a publishing partner. And there is talk about finally doing a veterinary atlas. EMR is in the works, as is “Blausen It” – an icon that will be in a browser window that when clicked scans documents for our key words and highlights them so when they are clicked it will provide the user a selection of rich media from our library…in over 15 languages.
Medgadget: Can you describe your personal path to becoming a leader in medical animation? What specifically drives you?
Blausen: I have always been a perfectionist and a competitor. However, we do not really compete against other companies because we just go about doing our own thing and hope that it works out. I am creating multimillion-dollar asset products that sell for 30 dollars…in a market that did not exist 3-4 years ago. I like being on the cutting edge of technology because there is no one to follow. If you look at most medical apps, they are really not that difficult to copy or create alternative versions. That is not the case with Blausen’s Human Atlas or the A&P Apps. These products have so many incredible and elaborate animations that the time and effort required for someone else to copy our content does not make sense because the market is still developing. We like to be first but also to have the best product. On a personal level, I just believe that making animations is what God had planned for me to do. I feel we really make a difference in education people about our bodies.