He said the goal of the new community will be to change rural surgeons' information seeking efforts and also connect with them via multiple platforms, including personal computers, laptops, and mobile devices, so surgeons can talk to each other and discuss the information that they learn about in isolation.
"It's one thing to read about it in a journal or be informed about a new event but you really want to interact with your colleagues, in terms of, 'Do you believe this? I'm not sure I believe that.' Or 'Have you tried this and did it work?'" he said.
In launching the community, ASC will also undertake an outreach effort to engage its rural surgeon members. But Hughes said hospital leaders can promote the community themselves throughout their own organizations, by doing things like putting information about the community in their hospital newsletters.
"We can compress the time-lag it takes between really good surgical discoveries and techniques into weeks or months instead of years. That's really the challenge we have as surgeons today, since things change so rapidly," he said.
He adds that the site is also a way to build the collective knowledgebase. For example, rural surgeons might do only hundreds of endoscopies individually, but do thousands collectively.
"To bring them all together to share their collective experience [has] got to improve performance," he said.