In the beginning...
Ausmed was founded as a nursing publishing house in 1987 by a nurse who felt that Australian nurses had very limited access to Australian-centric healthcare textbooks. Often the textbooks being used were written outside Australia and did not take into account Australia's unique healthcare system, cultural and social values. The company's first title, Urinary Incontinence, was a best-seller and Ausmed quickly set about publishing a library of local nursing textbooks. From the outset, Ausmed actively promoted the need for Australian nursing education and resources written by nurses and other health professionals.
In the early 1990s, Ausmed began organising nursing conferences which attracted large numbers of nurses across Australia. The company really started to grow in 1994, when it experienced a flurry of success in both publishing and conferences. In 1995, Ausmed ran a number of highly attended conferences including The Future of Nursing - Critical Path Towards the Year 2000, and Nursing Home Nurses' Conference, and published a range of new titles – all of which received excellent reviews. On October 29th, 1996 Ausmed registered the domain name www.ausmed.com.au – almost a full year before internet giant Google's domain name was registered.
In the late 1990s, Ausmed opened a bookstore on Mt Alexander Road, near the Ascot Vale campus of the Australian Catholic University. This site would remain the company’s offices until November 2011. Additionally, Ausmed's library had expanded to include many more titles such as Promoting Men’s Health, Thinking Management and Spirituality in Nursing.
By the year 2000 Ausmed was regularly running nursing conferences throughout Australia. Meanwhile, the nursing publishing landscape was changing dramatically as international (northern hemisphere) publishing houses began acquiring local independents. Seeing bigger opportunities abroad, Ausmed bucked the trend and remained an independent Australian nursing publishing house. Instead, Ausmed began preparing to take its unique library of Australian nursing textbooks to the world.
In early 2002 Ausmed hired its first Chief Information Officer, who was given the responsibility of ensuring that the Ausmed website was ready for international exposure. In October 2002 Ausmed took its list of nursing textbooks to the world's largest book fair, the Frankfurt Buchmesse in Frankfurt, Germany. The trade exercise was a huge success and helped secure the distribution of some of Ausmed's titles throughout the United Kingdom.
In 2003, Ausmed's plans for international distribution of its Australian nursing textbook library went from strength to strength with the securing of a Federal Government export grant. In this same year Ausmed attended Book Expo America and set about securing Northern Hemisphere distribution. In March 2003, Ausmed won the Moonee Valley Business Award for excellence in business planning and was described in an article in the Herald Sun as a company “which in 10 years has gone from nothing to selling books in Europe and America, as well as Australia”. Ausmed's textbook library also continued to grow, with the publishing of Dementia Nursing - A Guide to Practice, the first Ausmed title to be endorsed by the Royal College of Nursing, Australia.
In September 2003, Ausmed received the Victorian Governor General, John Landy, at its Ascot Vale offices. After the visit the Governor General wrote to Ausmed stating "…You are to be commended for your drive, ambition and entrepreneurialism and your commitment to continually improving the standard of nursing across the country. Your philosophy about doing business resonated very strongly with me. Your achievements are most inspiring."
In 2004 Ausmed temporarily established an agent in San Francisco, from where it intended to distribute its continually growing list of nursing textbooks across America. Additionally, Ausmed developed a partnership with a Singapore-based distributor to begin developing a stronger presence in the South-east Asian markets. Ausmed also began preparing its textbooks for distribution through its website in digital formats.
Ausmed has always been ahead of the curve, but in 2004-5 it began focusing its energy on the development of an online ebook distribution platform called Build-a-bookTM. The service offered nurses a way to compile their own custom textbooks by breaking down each title into a series of individual chapters. A nurse could then purchase each chapter individually or as a set, and have it delivered immediately to their computer as a PDF document. Ausmed was one of the first companies in the world to offer chapter downloads of books by PDF. The year 2005 was also big for Ausmed's conferencing division, which successfully held over 76 nursing conferences and seminars throughout Australia.
Between 2006 and 2008 the internet was progressively making it easier for people to self-publish their nursing knowledge and information online for free. This began to pose a problem for many publishing houses, and could be seen today as the beginning of the end for STM publishing in general. However, Ausmed was quick to adopt the internet as a means for digital commerce and had already started distributing ebooks online. The increasing take-up of the internet and impending smartphone revolution was enough to encourage Ausmed to re-position as demand for printed books was decreasing. Ausmed was quick to adapt, registering the domain www.buildebook.com - its international platform for the distribution of ebooks online. However, the multimedia revolution had also begun. In August 2008, Ausmed began creating recordings of its conference presentations which were available online for nurses to download and listen to. During this time, Ausmed also celebrated 20 years of successful business.
Over the past three years, Ausmed had noticed a gradual decline in the sales of physical books in lieu of its online offerings. In 2009 Ausmed's CEO moved to re-focus the company around the development of online learning and rich multimedia experiences. The company began expanding its software engineering team and started building a digital media production team. In 2009, the website AusmedOnline.com was launched with great success, offering a rich multimedia learning environment for nurses and midwives. Later in 2009, the move to the National Regulation of the nursing profession was announced, bringing with it a mandatory CPD education requirement.
In July 2010, Ausmed launched the country’s first CPD Organiser for nurses. This technology, developed in-house, was released almost immediately at the start of national registration in Australia. The CPD Organiser was a free tool allowing nurses to document their education online. Over 10,000 nurses registered for the CPD Organiser in the first year. In 2011, Ausmed Publications changed its name to Ausmed Education and rolled the CPD Organiser platform and online learning into its original 1997 domain name, www.ausmed.com.au.
Today Ausmed comprises an exceptional team of fantastic people who are passionate about the company's goals and excited by its potential, both here and internationally. In the last registration year, Ausmed delivered tens of thousands of hours of CPD education to nurses and midwives, both online and face-to-face through its extensive list of CPD programs, available throughout Australia. Ausmed is now one of the countries’ largest providers of online CPD education for nurses and is planning around 300 nursing conferences and seminars in 2014.
As we continue to develop new education and technologies in to the future, Ausmed's past experiences from the publishing world will help ensure our actions are always ethical, evidence-based and in line with our vision that education and technology can improve patient care.