Oct 31

Image Database: Pathology of Infectious Diseases

From the same author (Dr. Darren Wheeler) who brought us Google as a Pathology Portal comes Pathology of Infectious Diseases (Adv Anat Pathol 2006;13:330–331), an article featuring an online pathology atlas based at Japan’s Fujita Health University School of Medicine created by Dr. Yutaka Tsutsumi. Due to its “focus on nonneoplastic disease,” Dr. Wheeler calls it a “rare and welcome addition to a growing body of pathology image databases.”

Dr Tsutsumi’s web site is a comprehensive and user-friendly reference focusing on the histopathologic diagnosis of infectious disease. For the pathologist faced with identifying an infectious microorganism on hematoxylin and eosin or special stain, the database offers an excellent set of control imagesor comparison. The database is also a great resource for presentations and/or board study.

Here’s a screen shot:

(Click on the image to see the page this appears on)

You can try it out yourself here:

Note: Dr. Wheeler points out that “[t]he translation of certain Japanese text within the web pages results in scattered misplaced text symbols; however, all of the key text is well-preserved.”

[Thanks to Hope Leman for the heads-up!]

Oct 31

Rothman is all wrong (about IE)

No, no- not me. Wilson Rothman of Time Magazine (no relation I’m aware of). I try to avoid behaviors like speaking of myself in the third person…or being wrong. Anyway.

Wilson Rothman wrote an article for Time:

Why Two Browsers are Better than One
The just released Mozilla Firefox 2 may be better than Microsoft’s new Internet Explorer 7, but you’ll probably want to use both

Wilson writes:

There’s still an advantage to having IE7 handy, mainly because, as the dominant browser, programmers occasionally build sites that work better or exclusively with IE. The best example is Kodak EasyShare Gallery (kodakgallery.com). You can do everything you want to do on the site with any browser you want to use, but if you have 120 pictures from your 5-megapixel camera, the easiest way to upload photos is with the blatantly named “Easy Upload for Internet Explorer.” I doubt it’s a case of collusion—there are other examples of this kind of bias around the Web—but it is a valid reason to keep IE7 handy, even if you plan on using Firefox 2 most of the time.

Wilson is wrong. Except to write a post about IE7 yesterday, I haven’t used it at home (and haven’t NEEDED to use it) in over year.

Sure, there’s the occassional site built by a doofus to work only in Internet Explorer, but there’s a good work-around Firefox users can take advantage of to solve the problem without ever opening Internet Explorer. It’s a Firefox extension called IE Tab. IE Tab will let you open a page in a Firefox tab using the IE rendering engine. You can set it to always open certain pages with IE’s engione, or you can switch back and forth on the fly with a single click as needed.

Here are a few screen shots of IE Tab in action.

The only valid reason I have to keep IE around is so I can help others use it effectively.

Oct 30

Consumer Healthcare Information items

Several bloggers have already posted today about the new study from the Pew Internet and American Life project, Online Health Search 2006, but Steve Rubel at Micro Persuasion includes an interview with Susannah Fox, Associate Director at Pew, who says of the study:

The biggest surprise for me was the decreasing percentage of health seekers (internet users who look for health information online) to check the source and date of the medical advice – health information they find. Expert organizations like the Medical Library Association, URAC, Consumer WebWatch, and the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services have been trying to publicize the importance of checking these quality indicators, but it seems clear that most internet users are not getting the message.

Just another indication of the growing need for information literacy education generally and health information literacy education specifically.

Direct link to report (PDF)

Two other articles about searching online for consumer health information caught my eye today:

Rocky Mountain News

Internet can’t cure all ills: Millions go to online sites for health news, advice, but experts urge caution

I’m alarmed and annoyed that the article lists the most heavily used health information web sites BEFORE listing web sites that are recommended by the MLA. Worse, the Rocky Mountain Times descibes the most heavily visited sites as “the “Top five health Web sites,” which could mislead the reader into thinking that these are the best when, in reality, they’re just the most frequently visited. This strikes me as irresponsible behavior by the newspaper.

The Greensboro News-Record

Patients seek health info on Web, but it isn’t always fresh

This article has a different take on the Pew study. Instead of focusing on the way that health information seekers fail to consider the source, it focuses on the way they fail to check how up-to-date the information is. It does this in the headline, it seems, because of the one paraphrase in the story from a medical librarian:

That’s fine as long as information is reliable and up-to-date, said medical librarian Julie Myrick at Moses Cone Health System in Greensboro.

So it sort of looks like this reporter missed the major points of the Pew study.

The author also spoke with a primary care physician, Dr. Gail Terrell.

…if patients research issues carefully and discuss them in detail with their physicians, the patient’s care will almost certainly be better and might also be cheaper, Terrell said.

Dr. Terrell relates a story about a patient who came into Terrell’s office witha preliminary diagnosis based on internet research:

“…she came in (for her annual physical) and said, ‘I’ve been looking on the Internet and I think I’ve got Klippel-Trenaunay-Weber syndrome,’ ” Terrell said. “I’d never heard of it, and I’m board-certified and not a dummy. But I read her description, and she was right on the mark.”


The down side, she [Terrell] said, is that patients who have a lot of questions or suggestions stemming from online research can take longer to treat. That’s a problem in an era in which the health care industry is trying to keep costs down by becoming more efficient.

I appreciate that primary care physicians try to see a lot of patients in a short amount of time, but I find this a little exasperating. One’s primary care physician should welcome the patient’s questions and answer each of them patiently.

Just a little personal advice from someone who has met a lot of doctors: if your primary care physician doesn’t have time for your questions when you’re at an office visit, find another primary care physician.

Oct 30

How to: Set up “one-click” feed subscription from IE7 to Bloglines

Yep, you can set up one-click feed subscription from IE7 to BlogLines, too, but you have to install an add-on first. Also, it takes two clicks and doesn’t work for me as advertised by BlogLines.

  1. Go here: Download page for IE7 BlogLines Add-on
  2. Click the Download link:
  3. Click Run:
  4. Click Run again:
  5. Click Next:
  6. Click I Agree (after, of course, carefully reading the license agreement):
  7. Click Install:
  8. After installation completes, click Finish:
  9. Restart Internet Explorer 7.

How to use the add-on

Go to a page with a feed, like Tame The Web. Note that the orange feed button on the IE7 toolbar lights up to indicate a feed has been detected:

Now, according to BlogLines, all you have to do is “…look for the big orange RSS button that appears in your IE 7 toolbar. Click on it and you’re done – you’ve just subscribed to that feed in your Bloglines account.”

It isn’t true. Two clicks are required.

If we click on the orange feed button from Tame The Web, we see TTW’s feed, neatly displayed for in-browser viewing, with this included:

We can subscribe to TTW’s feed in BlogLines by clicking on either of the spots indicated by the red arrows above.

A few thoughts:
Firefox’s one-click subscription in BlogLines actually is one click. IE7 requires two.

Firefox natively supports one-click subscription without any need to install add-ons.

There are other web feed add-ons for IE7 here, and more will likely appear soon.

The large developer community of Firefox enthusiasts will whip up extensions to make Firefox 2.0 support their favorite aggregators (and other online services/tools) pretty quickly. I’m less confident that these will be quickly available for IE7.

Oct 30

Amnesty International API for Censored Web Content

Amnesty International’s Irrepressible.info is great, and they’re offering an API lets a blogger (or other sort of site owner/administrator) add a snippet of javascript that’ll pull banned content from Amnesty’s database and display it in your choice of formats.

Adj. 1) Impossible to repress or control.
Chat rooms monitored. Blogs deleted. Websites blocked. Search engines restricted. People imprisoned for simply posting and sharing information.

The Internet is a new frontier in the struggle for human rights. Governments – with the help of some of the biggest IT companies in the world – are cracking down on freedom of expression.

Amnesty International, with the support of The Observer UK newspaper, is launching a campaign to show that online or offline the human voice and human rights are impossible to repress.

More about the campaign

API specifics

Can’t wait to see how this is mashed up. Hey, how about a mapping mashup where you can hover over a map of the world and click to see what has been censored there?

You can also turn any query into an RSS feed:

Advanced RSS feeds
Choosing the format “rss” you can reformat any possible query into a valid RSS 2.0 feed. Use it to build a custom feed to use with RSS compatible applications – for example a China and Iran RSS feed.

Oct 30

How to: Set up one-click feed subscription in Firefox 2.0

Walt Crawford noted in a comment at davidrothman.net:

When I upgraded to FF2, it struck me as trivial to configure it so that a click on the new location-bar orange goodie brings up the Bloglines subscription page.

I felt the same way, but Walt and I are both fairly computer-savvy. Many users (and libraryfolk) don’t have this advantage. Hope Leman wrote:

I use both browsers but don’t know how to use the RSS features and need help. And I am deeply into RSS–imagine how puzzled are the millions of people who don’t know diddly about RSS.

Hope’s not alone, either. Over on Randy Morin’s RSS Blog, a commenter calling himself “Bull” writes:

What a pity that IE7 and FF2.0 developpers do not explain how to make RSS readers compatible with one click subscriptions. I am still looking for any documentation on this topic…

So this post will try to address some of these concerns.

How to configure one-click feed subscription in Firefox 2.0

In Firefox, click on the Tools menu, then Options

In the Options window, click on Feeds, select the radio button for Subscribe to the feed using:, select BlogLines, Google Reader, or My Yahoo (I chose BlogLines), and click the OK button.

How to USE the one-click feed subscription

As an example, we’ll visit the Librarian in Black. Notice that in the address bar next her site’s URL is the square, orange Feed icon.

All we have to do is click this icon, and I’m at a BlogLines subscription page for the feed at Librarian in Black.

Easy and convenient. 🙂

How to add support for another web-based aggregator in FireFox 2.0

Bull’s concern was on how to make aggregators compliant with one-click subscription. It seems that a Firefox extension might need to be built for each in order to make this work properly:

This can also be done programmatically by an extension, which is done by setting the value of the browser.feeds.handlers.application option to the pathname of the application to use for reading feeds.

Got that? Great.

Much more here on how to add support for an aggregator in Firefox 2.0.

So it looks like providers (or savvy users) of online feed services need to build and offer extensions for Firefox. Here’s hoping they all do it soon.

On behalf of Hope Leman, a huge fan of R-mail, a note to Randy Morin: You gotta’ build a Firefox extension that users can quickly and easily install to make these changes to make one-click subscription via R-mail a convenient reality. It would make Hope’s day. Please?

Oct 30

Will an information literacy exam become the next SAT?

Article from ars technica:

ETS [Educational Testing Service] has developed an ICT Literacy Assessment (test a demo version) that gives students short tasks (3-5 minutes, testing one particular skill) and long tasks (15 minutes, testing skills in combination) to complete on a computer. These include things like sifting through e-mail and developing accurate search queries for academic databases, along with other, more business-related projects.

Another group, the National Forum on Information Literacy, has just announced the creation of an “ICT Literary Policy Council” that will review the ETS exam and issue recommendations for “cut points.” These will be used to map exam scores to achievement levels, so that educators can determine “which students are proficient and which may need additional ICT literacy instruction or remediation.”

Read the article

Oct 27

Happy 35th Birthday, MEDLINE®!

I usually try to avoid posting on topics that other bloggers on medical librarianship have covered, but it seems wrong not to mention this.

Today is MEDLINE’s 35th anniversary, and this item from the NLM Technical Bulletin compares “MEDLINE and what was happening in 1971 with events today.”

When people kvetch about federal income taxes, I (after griping along with them) sometimes mention MEDLINE, PubMed, and the NLM as wonderful uses for my tax dollars.

When the new version of Dr. Who came out a couple years ago (perhaps only Michael Sauers will appreciate the comparison), I joined a discussion board about the new series that was populated mostly with citizens of Great Britain. Halfway through the season and loving it, I decided to take a moment to thank the people of Great Britain for maintaining the BBC with their tax dollars to the benefit of anglophones worldwide. Many received this thank-you with surprised (and gracious) responses- most hadn’t ever considered that the taxes they paid benefited the entire English-speaking world.

Along the same lines, the existence of MEDLINE, its maintenance, and its free availability of through PubMed are paid for by citizens of the United States, and benefit the entire world. In these politically difficult times, it is great to have the NLM making me so very proud of something my government does with my tax dollars.

Oct 27

Uses of Google Custom Search Engine (including Librarianship Feed Finder)

Update: THIS rocks. Garrett Hungerford used Google’s CSE to make LISZEN, a Library & Information Science Search Engine.

(My “Librarianship Feed Finder” CSE is at the bottom of this post if you want to skip down to it.)

So when Google announced its new custom search engine tool, I pretty much ignored it. After all, Rollyo has been offering a similar service for a good long while now. Eurekster’s Swicki does something similar, and Google’s direct competitor, Yahoo, has had the Yahoo! Search Builder since August.

However, recent readings suggest this may have been a hasty judgement, as creative uses of googles new tool pop up all around.

Last week, I posted about Give Me Back My Google, a tool that executes your google search and excludes link-spam sites. Well, the Google Customized Search Engine tool can also exclude domains and accept wildcard characters, so someone has used it to create Putch Search, which has some advantages over Give Me Back My Google. The most important advantage is that anyone can join the collobrative and add spammy sites to be excluded.

Putch Search

Another interesting use is being explored by librarian Bill Drew (of blogs Baby Boomer Librarian and Wireless Libraries). Bill has put together a custom search engine for information WLANs and Libraries.

Of course, the application most interesting to me so far is the Google Medicine portal tha Dean Giustini made. Dean has offered a list of most of the sites searched by his engine (20 of 27), and shows us the results of the same search (“common cold” AND “vitamin C”) in Google, Google Scholar, and his new Google Medicine.

For other interesting applications of Google CSE, check out eWeek’s slide show of Google Custom Search Engines.

But I think consideration of the bigger picture is called for here. Google has more to gain from this than just more places for adsense advertisements. Note that the service is branded as “Google Co-op”. What makes it different from the previous version of Google Co-op? It seems to me that with Google Marker for the co-op CSEs, Google has provided an incentive for users to annotate the web for them.

I don’t think I have a problem with this, but it is something that users should keep in mind.

Anyway. This morning I decided to try making my own. I’ve been collecting feeds for information libraryfolk care about for a few months (I’ll explain why in a future post), so I uploaded about 1000 of them and created a CSE to be a “Librarianship Feed Finder.”

Give it a try:

Here’s a test search to see which LIS feeds have recently mentioned Meredith Farkas.

Here’s a test search to find feeds that mention Library 2.0.

Its neat and sort of interesting, but really not extremely useful.

Oct 26


Wanna’ test your web page and see how it looks in multiple OS/browser combinations?

Browsershots logo
BrowserShots provides a screen capture of your page in multiple browsers running in multiple operating systems.

You can click here to see a larger image of davidrothman.net in five different browser/OS’s, or you can check out its report on davidrothman.net yourself here.

Oct 26

True: Firefox 2.0 and IE7 are horrid aggregators

I stand by my assertion that the landscape is changed by having the two most popular browsers (internet Explorer and Firefox) release versions that natively auto-detect and handle feeds, but Randy Morin is right when he says:

Of course, Firefox and IE are absolutely horrid RSS readers, which don’t compare to best of bread.

Not only is it true, but it is a little odd that I haven’t seen anyone else saying this obviously and importantly true thing.

Oct 26

InformationWeek review of web-based aggregators

InformationWeek logo
This article at InformationWeek by David DeJean reviews and compares BlogLines, Google Reader, and Newsgator Online as web-based aggregators. It’s not a bad review of features, but I’m interested in DeJean’s view that “…there are three things that a good RSS reader must do well…”

First, it must make it easy to find RSS feeds and subscribe to, manage, and display feed entries in ways that make sense to you. Each of these three readers handles read and unread items differently, for example. There isn’t any right way or wrong way, but one of them may work better for you, and it’s easy to try them all out.

Second, an RSS reader must provide knowledge management tools to help you prioritize and categorize entries so that information can be put away and found again. This can be as simple as marking an entry “Keep New” so it doesn’t disappear from the feed, as Bloglines does it, or the much more complex and useful tagging features of Google Reader.

And finally, an RSS reader should support collaboration by giving you a variety of ways to communicate both the information in the entries and the metadata: the blogroll (the list of subscribed feeds), the original URLs of the source entries, any categories and tags you apply, and comments.

I have utterly no complaints about his second crtierion, but the first and third deserve comment.

His “first,” needs to be split into two separate criteria. “must make it easy to find RSS feeds” is one, and “display feed entries in ways that make sense to you” is …well…one-point-five. These two criteria are very, very separate in all three aggregators reviewed, and it makes no sense at all to roll them together.

Regarding the first (“must make it easy to find RSS feeds”), I don’t necessarily want an aggregator to aid me in discovery of new feeds. I have nothing against these features, but I would never rely on them, any more than I rely on a single search engine. Besides, I think that in the not-so-distant future, pretty much all web-based content (and lots of content that doesn’t have a display-in-your-browser component) having feeds. Because of this, I think the time of specialized portals designed for feed discovery may be limited. It might be handy to have such a service rolled into an aggregator, but it is far from essential for me.

Regarding DeJean’s third criterion (“an RSS reader should support collaboration by giving you a variety of ways to communicate both the information in the entries and the metadata”): I think this is true, but that it doesn’t go nearly far enough. I want an aggregator that provides limitless flexibility in reparsing any data from feeds or metadata that I apply to any output format I want.

Also, I’m still waiting for a web-based aggregator that can be used by an enterprise and centrally administrated so that users can receive assistance troubleshooting aggregator problems and receive immediate updates of new feeds available through the enterprise (See paragraphs under “What I’d like” in this post).

I’d also like to see aggregators that can combine and/or filter feeds for the user instead of forcing the user to use 3rd party solutions.

Oct 25

Is RSS “Social Software?”

So, reading all the posts from biblioblogs about Internet Librarian 2006 makes me sad that I’m not there. Ah well, maybe next year.

Anyway, Steven Cohen’s talk on What’s New in Social Software (in ABC format) is getting a lot of blogging coverage from, among others, Travelin’ Librarian and David Lee King.

The ‘R’ of Steven’s talk is ‘RSS’, and a few bloggers have noted that he said it wasn’t really a social technology:

Library Web Chic: “R – RSS (not really social software)”

Librarian in Black: “R: RSS – is it social software? not really, as it’s a more solitary endeavor–no giving or sharing”

I wasn’t there and didn’t get to hear Steven’s comments for myself (dangit), and I hate to potentially disagree with Steven- but the assertion that RSS isn’t social needs discussion.

RSS frees content from the constraints of a web page and allows it to be re-parsed, mashed-up, recontextualized, resyndicated, aggregated, searched, and tagged. These are all social acivities.

Adding RSS to your content is in itself a social act; it invites others to make use of your content in whatever context, tool, or project works best for them. Offering full feeds says that you’re more interested in sharing your ideas with than driving up the page-view counts in whatever analytics software you use. Offering your content via a feed is sharing, is giving, and is social.

There are a great number of reasons why it would be inaccurate to call RSS “social software,” (it isn’t really software, for one- it is an XML document format) but it enables all kinds of social interaction, and I think it (or its successor technologies) will do a lot more of that in years to come- so it might be equally inaccurate to propose that it isn’t social.

Someone please leave a comment and confirm that I’m not alone in this view? After all, Steven DID include it in his A-to-Z list on social software, even if he did so with a disclaimer.

Meh. I wish I could’ve gone to IL2006. 🙁

Oct 25

Dan the Librarian Comedian

Dan the Librarian talking about being a librarian at Piccolo’s in Westfield, MA


I’m a big fan of George Carlin, Bill Hicks, Eddie Izzard, and Patton Oswalt– so suffice it to say that Dan’s work isn’t really my taste. Still, it is interesting to see a stand-up whose schtick is the fact that he has an MLIS.


Oct 25


VIPatients Logo

From GIDEON Labs:

Have you ever wondered about how famous people died or what diseases they have? VIPatients (Very Important Patients) is an interactive database for famous people with fatal and non-fatal diseases. It lists the patients by profession, diseases, cause of death and dates of birth and death.

You’ve probably seen the work of Dr. Stephen Berger before. He’s one of the founders of GIDEON (Global Infectious Disease and Epidemiology Network). Today, though, I’m thoroughly entertained by another tool he’s created, VIPatients.com, a neat tool that lets you look up medical conditions to see what well-known people have suffered from them.

First, you choose the profession, disease, and date range of person’s death, as well as choosing whether or not the condition should have been fatal- then click Search.

VIPatients returns a list of people in its database that meet this criteria:

Select one of the people listed, and get the details on that individual:

The lovely person who made me aware of VIPatients says that Dr. Berger’s efforts on this tool began in 1980:

…he was lecturing some students and happened to mention that Eleanor Roosevelt died of TB. He says he noticed that the students suddenly ‘woke up’ and became interested in this otherwise boring subject. So he went home and looked up others who died of the disease [Vivian Leigh, George Orwell] and started keeping a file on index cards. His initial research consisted of going through the entire Biography section of the Brooklyn Public Library – every book, then the Encyclopedia Britannica, the Bible, Books about Popes, Plagues, the Wild West, Famous Animals and all issues of Time and Newsweek.

So I’m just tickled with VIPatients, and have added it to my collection of reference bookmarks, but I’d like it even more if it included some indication of from whence came the information about a particular person/illness.

For more about Dr. Stephen A. Berger, see his ZoomInfo bio.

For more on GIDEON, see this description from EBSCO.

10/26/2006: Better link for more information on GIDEON.

Oct 25

Dr. Seuss and Other Masters Of Public Health

Cartoon Medicine Show
The Washington Post has a great article on the “Cartoon Medicine Show,” which features cartoons from the collection of the NLM (previously mentioned here).

“The Inside Story,” a short film that includes this animated segment on the unconscious, gives the government’s view of the Freudian mind and psychosomatic pain. Produced by Paramount Pictures in 1944, it was one of many government-funded health cartoons created to educate military personnel and the public between the 1920s and the 1960s.

And the similarities to Popeye and the Dr. Seuss characters? That, says National Library of Medicine medical historian Michael Sappol, is likely because Dr. Seuss — Ted Geisel — headed up the animation unit of the U.S. military during World War II, and because Paramount had taken over the production company and the animators who were responsible for Popeye.

I really wish I could go see this. 🙁

More info here.

Posted in Fun
Oct 24

RSS Tutorials for Law Librarians

Great set of three flash-based tutorials with audio on RSS from the perspective of law librarianship by Jason Eiseman, Computer Automation Librarian at Schwabe Williamson & Wyatt.

Part 1: Introduction (approx. 6 min.)
Part 1 introduces RSS as a concept. This tutorial discusses why RSS is important, and looks at an RSS feed.

Part 2: Using an aggregator (approx. 13 min.)
Part 2 deals with how to set up an RSS aggregator and subscribe to RSS feeds.

Part 3: Advanced RSS (approx. 15 min.)
Part 3 goes over specific tools that law librarians can use to set up RSS feeds which might benefit their libraries.

[via lo-fi librarian]
(addded to my aggregator today)

Oct 24


MetaGlossary Logo
MetaGlossary is pretty impressive. It appears to be a metasearch tool for online dictionaries, glossaries, and lexicons.

I decided to try looking up some specialized and/or ambiguous terms, like SDI (strategic dissemination of information), and it found the right definition at the bottom of this results page.

Next, I tried some slang by looking up the word “shizzle.” No problems with that, either.

Next, I tried a word from pop culture, “transmetropolitan.” It found that, too.

Next, I tried a clinical term, “ulcerative colitis,” and it returned a number of decent definitions.

Lastly, I thought I’d see how it handled a typo or mispelling, by searching for “ulcerutive culitis.” Lo and behold, it figured out that I meant “ulcerative colitis.”

From MetaGlossary’s About Us page, here’s why they believe this is better than using a define:”Ulcerative Colitis” query in Google.

…unlike other search engines, MetaGlossary is able to precisely extract the meanings of terms and phrases from the often frustratingly unmanageable mass of information on the web. It provides you with concise, direct explanations for terms and phrases, not just endless links to sift through in search of a comprehensive definition.

What’s more, MetaGlossary organizes these meanings based on topic and usage, so you’ll find the one you’re looking for quickly and easily. Since MetaGlossary spans the expanse of the web, even your most field-specific requests for terms, phrases, acronyms, technical jargon, and slang, will be successfully met.

Neat. If they come out with a plugin for the IE Google Toolbar and for Firefox, this might be my new default online dictionary.

Oct 24


SearchMedica Logo
UK-based SearchMedica, an advertising-supported search portal run by CMPMedica (part of United Business Media) bills itself as “The GP’s search engine.”

SearchMedica’s editorial policy explains from whence search results are drawn:

Our list of ‘medical sites chosen by GPs’ is exactly that. It contains around 1,200 websites – all of which have been selected by GPs for their usefulness. The list currently contains the sites of all the pre-eminent medical organisations in the UK, US, Australasia and Europe, some 600 checked and vetted patient information websites – most of them based in the UK, all of the medical journals of relevance to UK GPs and a wealth of other authoritative medical websites our users have suggested to be of value in their work. GPs are constantly suggesting new sites to us via our ‘Suggest a site’ link. Every new site is tested against the following criteria by our editorial team before inclusion in SearchMedica:

  • Relevance: We bring all of Pulse’s editorial experience to bear on this question. To be ‘relevant’ in this context sites must be useful to GPs in one or other aspects of their day-to-day work.
  • Authority: Sites must be professional in their aims and execution. Accreditation or endorsement by a recognised medical body is a good indicator of authority in this context. Independence is also an important factor
  • Reliability: Sites must be stable and consistent.

Extra care is taken with sites run by commercial organisations. These can hold useful content for GPs but they must meet the criteria above in order to be included.

Interesting that they confirm the view that commercial sites must be held up to extra scrtuiny … even though SearchMedica is itself advertising-supported.

A few interesting features:

  • Filters allow users to restrict search to UK content only or NHS sites only. This reminds me of the need Dean Giustini has expressed for medical search services that are particular to the needs of Canadian clinicians.
    SearchMedica Filters
  • Development of the site has a social aspect to it, as it invites users to join their Super User Group, and encourages users to submit new sites to be included in SearchMedica’s indexing and search resullts.
  • SearchMedica’s interface does include some faceted (or ‘clustered’) searching. When I searched for “Ulcerative Colitis”, SearchMedica returned along the left side of the screen categorized links for Evidence, Patient Information, Patient Support, and Guidelines.
  • There is an interesting function called “Broader Searches.” When I clicked this after searching for “Ulcerative Colitis, it recommended a search for “inflammatory bowel condition.”
  • SearchMedica also provides a set of “Related Concepts” search links. Here’s a screen capture of the Related Concepts displayed following my search for “Ulcerative Colitis”
    Related Concepts
  • I couldn’t help but notice at the bottom of the About page a disclaimer: “This site is intended for healthcare professionals only“.

More aboutSearchMedica on their Help page.