VOL. 127 | NO. 44 | Monday, March 5, 2012
Memphis Small Business Spotlight
Ambitious Growth on Tap For Med Communications
By MICHAEL WADDELL
Pharmaceutical consulting firm Med Communications Inc. is expanding its presence in Memphis, with plans to soon move into a larger office space to accommodate anticipated growth over the next several years.
Allen Scoggin is founder, president and CEO of Med Communications, a medical information consulting firm.
(Photo: Lance Murphey)
In April the company will move from 910 Madison Ave. to the Memphis BioWorks building at 20 S. Dudley St.
“The BioWorks Foundation Group is very business-oriented, especially in health care delivery and biotechnology, so it really fits us well to move our operations over there,” said Dr. Allen Scoggin, president and CEO of Med Communications.
Med Communications contracts with various pharmaceutical and biotech firms to provide evidence-based, regulation-compliant information to physicians, pharmacists, nurses and patients. It is one of only six companies of its kind in the country, and it is the only such company based locally.
“We answer questions related to drugs and drug therapy for the companies as if we were sitting at those companies, but we do the work here in Memphis,” said Scoggin. The company’s impressive, mostly confidential national client list includes local company GTx Inc.
Scoggin credits his company’s success to his professional staff, which consists only of graduates from top 10 doctor of pharmacy programs that have completed residency training or advanced degree programs in health care.
“We have an exceptional staff of highly trained individuals who have either had a residency, a fellowship or some other type of experience at a pharmaceutical house,” said Scoggin, whose company now employs an average of 45 to 50 people, with 20 to 25 people at the office in Memphis and the others outsourced. “We do not hire people straight out of pharmacy school.”
The current staff also has an average of five to eight years of individual practice experience in infectious disease, pediatrics, pulmonology, oncology, critical care medicine, cardiology, and other subspecialties of medicine.
The busiest months for the call center come during the fall and winter and can bring in as many as 3,000 calls due to questions about seasonal vaccines produced by a few companies. But most of Med Communications’ current clients do not make seasonal vaccines, so call volume remains relatively steady for most of the year.
Scoggin formed the company in 1998, after he and a former student had bumped into each other at a trade show and began brainstorming the idea in 1995.
Being in Memphis has multiple advantages for the company. Being in the central time zone allows Med Communications to provide late-afternoon service to large companies on the East Coast, and being close to the health sciences research center offers its staff access to the area’s health care resources, including a regional medical library and other health care facilities and businesses.
“We started the company coming out of an academic environment at the University of Tennessee, and we tried to bring as much of that approach as we could to focusing on response to questions of a medical information nature,” said Scoggin, who served as a UTHSC faculty member for 30 years.
Med Communications focused primarily on medical information support services in its earlier years, but recently it has taken on a larger consulting role. And more growth is expected over the next few years.
“We expect to double the size of our company in the next three years,” said Scoggin, who attributes the company’s ambitious growth plan to Dr. Barbara McKinnon, Med Communications director of business development, who joined the company three years ago.
McKinnon works to increase the company’s profile through publication in industry trade journals, direct mail and attendance at trade shows, like the annual Drug Information Association conference that will be held in Orlando, Fla., this week.
“We are beginning to work on establishing an Internet presence and have started fledgling Facebook and Twitter accounts in the past month,” McKinnon said. “We are also expanding our staff to grow our library support and medical editing services.”
Scoggin sees more companies turning to electronic library services in the future as they do away with the cost of maintaining their own physical libraries and convert to digital format.
“Our clients love our ability to reach out into cyberspace and pull from digital libraries the articles and reprints that are needed by researchers and scientists,” Scoggin said. “Other areas we’re moving into now have to do with globalization. We are seeing increased demand for translation services and staff that can speak bilingually on the phone.”
Med Communications recently partnered with SpokenHere to provide translating and interpreting, and the company will debut the new service later this year.