Sep 28

BMJ on Physician Bloggers

Who are the doctor bloggers and what do they want?
Coombes BMJ.2007; 335: 644-645

[Abstract] [Full Text]

Medical blogs are sometimes seen as just rants about the state of health care, but they have also been credited with spreading public understanding of science and rooting out modern day quacks. Rebecca Coombes checks out the medical blogosphere

Lacking full-text access to this journal, I haven’t read the article. I would welcome the chance to read it if someone would like to send it my way. 😉


Sep 27

NEJM’s “Perspective Forum”

Having already had some success with it’s “Clinical Decisions” experiment (see this post and this post), NEJM has launched another interactive feature called “Perspective Forum.”

The feature establishes a topic of discussion and provides a form in which readers can post their comments.

My initial reaction is a resounding “Meh.” Wouldn’t it be preferable to have a threaded record of the discussion so that readers can interact with each other?

Sep 26


What’s — developed by Enhanced Medical Decisions, Inc. — is a powerful, first-ever, online medical solution that uses “natural language” search technology, empowering users to quickly and easily find accurate information on drug interactions and reactions. covers all over-the-counter and many herbal remedies as well as prescription drugs.

Check out the demonstration video

I tried the beta and thought it was neat…but I would prefer if I could just enter a list of drugs (without entering a symptom) and get a list of potential symptoms and side effects.

Sep 25

PeerClip: Social Bookmarking for Physicians

From ConnectivHealth comes PeerClip, a social bookmarking tool for physicians.

From the press release:

PeerClip, a free service exclusively for physicians, physician assistants and nurse practitioners, allows members to add information from anywhere on the Web directly into PeerClip through a “research assistant” tool that subtly integrates in to the physician’s Web browser. As physicians add medical information to their PeerClip home page, they are provided at-a-glance information on any peer comments, ratings and keyword tags. Physicians also can add peers who have valuable perspectives into their network and track future comments and bookmarks from these members.

PeerClip’s other key feature is its ability to recommend other relevant content to each member. Essentially, PeerClip observes each member’s bookmarks and profile so that it can then recommend similar content from within the PeerClip community.

So, this sounds a lot like another “Digg for Medical Literature,” doesn’t it? Maybe it would be better to call it a “Digg/ for Medical Literature.”

Can’t wait to try it.

Sep 24

Recommended Recent Blog Reading

Even after recent pruning, my feed aggregator has 550 subscriptions- so when I get behind on my reading, it takes a while to catch up. The following are items from MedLib bloggers that have caught my attention while trying to catch up:

  • In a short, good post, Susan Mayer (at Learn to Live) asks, “Who does this- or why blog?
  • At Circ and Serve, NCSU’s Mary Carmen Chimato (formerly a medical librarian) explains a very simple and powerful first step towards improving staff morale and organizational culture.
  • T. Scott again proves himself the best sort of dissenting voice with a wonderful discussion of why patrons need the library less than before, but need librarians more than ever.
  • Alexia Estabrook (the Medical Librarian Maven) had a great post the other day that I read three or four times.

Is there a common theme in these? I think so. They all display that most rare sort of intelligence: common sense.

Sep 22


Should’ve mentioned:

After what I’m told was a very successful surgery with managable complications and a few more days in the hospital, I was discharged home a couple of days ago and will spend the next two weeks pretty much on the couch, recovering.

When I’m feeling reasonably coherent (I’m on a lot of pain meds), I’ll do some blogging to help keep boredom at bay. I’m WAY behind and not reading quickly (again, pain meds), so I may be catching up for a while. Thanks in advance for your patience.

Thanks also again for all the kind wishes. It has been a very unpleasant couple of weeks, and the encouraging notes really did make me less miserable. You people rock. Thank you. 🙂

Sep 21

Web 2.0 consumer health sites in the San Jose Mercury News

Healthy growth in Web 2.0 medical sites
San Jose Mercury News, 9/21/2007

Chatting on, LuvNHope was giving migraine-prone EyeLoveDawn an e-hug while KansasGal posted a video-journal entry about her fibromyalgia.

At the same time Thursday – but in the real world – health care blogger Matthew Holt was talking about the promise of and other so-called “Health 2.0” Web sites during a one-day conference bringing together 500 of the growing field’s key players.

At the conference, words like data liquidity, transparency and empowerment were tossed about with abandon, but to translate: Health 2.0 is a buzzword for online ventures that propose to improve people’s health by expanding their access to next-generation Web tools like customized search engines (think Google) and social networks (think MySpace).

Read the whole thing.

Some day, I’ll work out how I feel about patient community sites and write about them.

Sep 14

This blog is on ‘pause’

I have a new policy: Any time I’m put under general anesthesia, I’ll stop blogging for a bit.

I’m having surgery later this afternoon and expect I won’t feel much like blogging for at least a few days after- or I may take a few weeks off from blogging. Don’t really know. I’ll start blogging again…when I start blogging again.

Thanks very much for all the kind wishes and suggestions sent via comments and email- I really, really appreciate them.

Until next time,


Sep 12

David becomes an inpatient

Regular readers know that I don’t generally post about personal matters on this blog, but this touches on my professional life enough, I think, to mention.

I’ve never been admitted to a hospital as an inpatient before a couple of days ago. I’ve never had oxygen tubes in my nostrils. I’ve never had to press a call button to ask for help going to the toilet. I’m trying to see it as a learning opportunity and as an important professional experience instead of just a very unpleasant one.

I’ve been walking around for days with an increasingly uncomfortable tightness in my chest that started to move from discomfort to pain on Monday. A visit to an urgent care center near my home revealed a diagnosis that I hadn’t expected. My right lung had completely collapsed.

I don’t recommend it. It is very unpleasant.

It seems I’ll be here with a chest tube for at least a couple more days, perhaps longer.

My supervisor is discouraging me from doing any work, so I may continue to blog when I feel clear-headed because I find it a pleasant way to make time pass a little faster.

In the meanwhile: Any suggestions on how to make an inpatient stay more pleasant?

Sep 11

Business 2.0: “Medicine goes 2.0”

“Can camera-equipped mobile phones make families healthier? One Canadian company says yes. Quebec-based Myca already has a hit with a service called MyFoodPhone [], which lets users snap photos of their daily meals and send them to the company’s nutritional analysts.”

Read the rest of this short article.

Sep 10

A Medical Publisher’s Unusual Prescription: Online Ads

New York Times article:

“…Reed Elsevier, which publishes more than 400 medical and scientific journals, is trying an experiment that stands this model on its head. Over the weekend it introduced a Web portal,, that gives doctors free access to the latest articles from 100 of its own pricey medical journals and that plans to sell advertisements against the content.

The new site asks oncologists to register their personal information. In exchange, it gives them immediate access to the latest cancer-related articles from Elsevier journals like The Lancet and Surgical Oncology. Prices for journals can run from hundreds to thousands of dollars a year.”

Read the rest here.


Sep 08

Scots Send Patients to Library for Mental Health Help

Patients with prescriptions are bypassing their local pharmacy – in favour of the library.

Doctors in the Lothians are prescribing self-help books to treat conditions such as mild depression, anxiety and eating disorders.

Following a successful trial, the scheme is being launched across East Lothian on Monday to coincide with the start of National Suicide Prevention Week.

Edinburgh City Council is also considering introducing the project, and a similar one has already been successful in West Lothian.

Read the rest

Sep 07

Getting Started with RSS Feeds (JHL)

It looks like the article I wrote for the Journal of Hospital Librarianship is going to appear in print in Volume 7, Issue 3.

My hope was that this article would be a painless, step-by-step guide to help the medical librarian set up and start using an aggregator right away.

Many health sciences library staffers who might benefit tremendously from the utilization of an RSS aggregator are intimidated by the mistaken impression that setting up and using a feed aggregator is difficult or requires technical knowledge. The truth is that anyone who can use an e-mail client can quickly learn to manage an aggregator, and can begin benefiting from its use right away. This article seeks to walk the less technologically inclined health science library staffer through the necessary steps to begin reaping the benefits of utilizing RSS feeds, including setting up an aggregator, finding useful feeds, subscribing to feeds, and managing them. This is accomplished with only an absolute minimum of geekspeak or technobabble.

Sep 06

More Medical Custom Search Engines

I’ve previously mentioned my Google Custom Search Engines for Consumer Health (or Patient Education) Information and for the History of Medicine, but a couple of comments left by readers have pointed me towards more interesting CSEs:

Jere Odell points out the five interesting custom search engines at the Central Indiana Bioethics Portal, including search engines for End of life issues, Eugenics, Pandemic influenza, Stem cell research, and Transgenic agriculture.

Ed Bennett points out five CSE’s of interest to hospitalfolk that he’s created and placed at, incesluding CSEs for searching Maryland Hospitals, Washington D.C Hospitals, U.S. Medical Schools, Top National Hospitals, and Major US Hospitals.

Thanks so much to Jere and Ed for letting me know about these!

Sep 06

MedLib Blog Badge at OrgMonkey

According to her blog, OrgMonkey, “Marie Kennedy is the Head, Metadata & Content Management at the Norris Medical Library of the University of Southern California. This blog is about organization, medical librarianship, and sometimes monkeys and/or bananas.”

In my book, any MedLib Geek who likes monkeys is the cat’s pajamas. (Note to self: Ask Marie if she likes Jonathan Coulton or Invader Zim)

Marie has added the MedLib Blog badge to her sidebar:

Why is David always on about this badgey stuff?

Previously, I’ve noted the following blogs that display the MedLib Blog badge in their sidebars:

These blogs are:

  1. about medical / health / health sciences / biomedical librarianship;
  2. written by (a) medical librarian(s) or medical library paraprofessional(s);
  3. maintained by a medical library; or
  4. maintained by professional association of medical librarians and/or medical library paraprofessionals.

Hey! My blog has the MedLib Blog badge and you haven’t featured it here!

Sorry! I do TRY for omniscience, but frequently fall short of this goal. If I’ve missed the badge on your blog or if you’ve just added it, please let me know so I can link to it from here.

Why would I want to add the badge to my blog?

The badge links back to the masterlist of MedLib blogs to indicate the blog’s membership in the growing community (and sense of community) of MedLib blogs(/bloggers). (This should serve also as a reminder to add your blog to this masterlist, if appropriate.)

To add this badge to your own blog, just copy and paste this code:

<a href="">
<img src=""></a>

Not sure how to do this with your particular blogging software? Email me at david[DOT]rothman[AT]gmail[DOT]com and we’ll figure it out together. :)

Sep 05

Two Medical Library RSS Services

I think it was a little over a year ago that I gave up on the idea of building my own portal for medical information RSS feeds because I had started chatting with Frankie Dolan (of MedWorm and LibWorm fame) and suggesting ideas to her instead. I still get most of my medical RSS feeds from MedWorm, but I’m enjoying seeing how others are building medical RSS portals.

Today I’m looking at the University of Wisconsin-Madison Ebling Library for Health Sciences RSS E-Journal Feeds by Subject and at the Harvey-Semester JournalBot.

I learned that UW-M libraries were up to good RSS-ish things from Ratcatcher’s post the other day that contained an abstract of an upcoming paper:

Developing and Marketing an RSS Journal Service for your Library
Authors: Erika L. Sevetson, MS, Christopher Hooper-Lane, MA, AHIP, Allan R. Barclay, MLIS, AHIP, Ebling Library, University of Wisconsin – Madison; Deborah Copperud, MA, School of Library and Information Science, University of Wisconsin – Madison
Abstract: More and more journals are making their tables of contents available via RSS feed; however, barriers still exist between the user and the content. A working group at a large, Midwestern academic health sciences library set out in Fall 2006 to “explore possibilities for developing an RSS current awareness service that would categorize health sciences RSS feeds and integrate them with SFX, document delivery, and RefWorks.” We developed a 4-phase plan, including overhauling our existing RSS journal feeds pages, developing bundled OPML packages for quick subscription to several journals, developing a shopping cart-like application for users to easily create customized collections, and developing instructional and promotional plans for staff and patrons. This panel will provide an overview of the project, focusing on work process, technology, marketing, and instruction and education. The panel discussion will include 15 minutes for audience discussion.

(Since I won’t be able to make it to this event, could someone please send me lots of detailed notes? Transcripts? Video recordings? Holograms?)

A little digging turned up this page at Ebling which lets the user select a subject, then see available RSS feeds for journals covering that subject (without reloading the page- a nice AJAXy touch). For example: Say we’ve got a hypothetical cardiologist: she could click “Cardiology” and get a nice list of TOC feeds for journals (through EZproxy) of interest to cardiologists.


Since the feed is retrieved through EZproxy, I’m guessing that these feeds will allow the user to click on an item in an aggregator and log in through EZproxy to get the full text. I also like that it offers an OPML file for ALL the feeds in the subject. Awesome. (Next, maybe they could add filtering functions to let our example hypothetical cardiologist user filter the journal feeds she selects for keywords she cares most about.)

The Harvey Semester JournalBot takes a sort of a “wizard” approach, guiding our hypothetical cardiologist through a process of creating a personalized feed (via PubMed API?) tailored for her specific needs and preferences.

First, the JournalBot asks the user to select a subject from a drop-down menu:

(The JournalBot can also let the user enter a MeSH term, but if the user had mastery of MeSH, she wouldn’t need the “wizard.”)

Next the JournalBot prompts the user to select a specific cardiovascular disorder:

Now JournalBot prompts the user to select from which journals she wants articles on this specific cardiovascular disorder…

…and asks the user to choose how many articles from each journal she wants and how old the articles can be:

Lastly, JournalBot offers the user a vanilla feed and a link to add the feed to Google Reader or iGoogle:

I love to see that academic medical libraries are developing services like these, and can’t wait to see what else is coming.