A conversation with Kristine Russell on the ongoing history of MLO

Feb. 25, 2019
Kristine Russell. Publisher/Executive Editor, MLO

Congratulations on MLO reaching its 50th anniversary! How long have you been publisher/executive editor? Thank you! I’ve been involved as the publisher of MLO for the past 20 years. I had a short two- to three-year break where I was not directly involved but returned to MLO as its new owner in 2010. It’s been an exciting experience to watch and report on the increasing depth of laboratory capabilities and the professionals that accomplish the tasks that help with patient care.

Please share with us how you became publisher of MLO. Nelson Publishing was in expansion mode in the 90s. This was the company I worked for before I started my own two companies, NP Communications and KSR Publishing. The Nelson publications focused on manufacturing and electronic engineering. In my role as VP of Operations and Acquisitions, I was tasked with growing the company, which included looking at publications that would expand our focus in other technology areas.

I first identified Health Management Technology, recently rebranded as Healthcare Innovation—which focused on bringing technology to healthcare-based solutions.

Then I discovered Medical Laboratory Observer and its sister publication, Healthcare Purchasing News. HPN covers supply chain, surgical services, sterilization, and infection control—everything bought and supplied in a hospital and a lab. Both were purchased at the same time and became part of our expanded healthcare publishing group.

My family was involved in publishing so I’ve been around it since I was a kid. I wasn’t planning on staying involved but it was a great opportunity to apply my programming and operational skills. I helped develop the IT platform that allowed us to manage not only content, but our audience development, sales, and distribution across 13 unique print publications.

How has MLO evolved since you’ve been in the driver’s seat? I saw the opportunity to share information across all three of our healthcare publications (MLO, HPN, and HI), and focused on educating practitioners in topics like infection prevention in hospitals. And we cover how informatics solutions can bring better processes to the clinical lab. We also include a continuing education feature in MLO every month, working with Northern Illinois University (NIU), School of Nursing, to certify the continuing education credits. NIU is my undergrad alma mater.

I’ve always wanted MLO to elevate the value of laboratory professionals in the healthcare community. One of those ways is with our annual MLO Lab of the Year. The submissions tell the stories of overcoming challenges and ultimate successes that offer inspiration to the lab community.

You’re very committed to the blood bank. Why is donating blood so important to you? I was asked to be on the board of directors of the local blood bank in Sarasota—Suncoast Blood Bank. Blood is the gift of life. Its collection and processing are difficult and time-consuming processes that give life and health back to patients who need it. We strive to make blood donors comfortable and to show how important they are when they donate.

How do you measure success? When I hear from someone that a story we published enhanced the quality of healthcare they were delivering or solved a problem.

The laboratory is challenged attracting youth into the profession. How do you think this problem can be solved? This is a universal problem in healthcare that includes laboratorians, physicians, nurses, and other important support professionals. Healthcare is a tough profession. It’s rewarding and necessary, but it’s full of a lot of regulations and documentation that are time consuming and not necessarily part of the discipline they were educated for—the actual care delivery. If a magic wand tool could be developed that would connect all the disparate information systems and make information capture and reporting easier, that would help!

Tell us about MLO’s new relationship with Endeavor Business Media (EBM). I met Chris Ferrell (EBM CEO), three years ago. I respected his enthusiasm surrounding publishing and particularly his interest in business-to-business publications. We kept in touch and he offered to purchase my publishing companies. We joined Endeavor in May 2018.

I recognized the capabilities and opportunities of joining a larger organization to grow our technology products on our websites, events, and custom projects like webinars and whitepapers. I continue to serve as VP and Group Publisher of the Healthcare Group and as an EVP with the core Endeavor Business Media management team.

What’s the most important achievement you hope to accomplish in your current role? To provide accurate and cutting-edge information to enable our healthcare professional subscribers to excel at their jobs—and to enhance quality patient care—at the best possible cost.

What’s the biggest change you’ve seen in the laboratory over the course of your career with MLO? Information transfer and the evolution of tools now available for laboratorians to enable them to do testing faster, more accurately, and with much more in-depth results.

Any advice for those looking to enter healthcare publishing? It’s a passion of mine to watch developments in healthcare—I truly enjoy it. If you have the interest and the desire to spend 42 weeks a year on the road—immersed in all kinds of conferences—trying in your head to connect the pieces—you’ll be perfect!

You’re a self-proclaimed workaholic. What do you like to do to relax? I read books at 3 a.m. when I can’t sleep in random hotel rooms. I’m particularly fond of Liane Moriarty novels.