Aug 29

KQED’s Forum: The Future of Libraries

Just stumbled across this episode of KQED’s Forum (a call-in talk show):

Tue, Aug 26, 2008 — 10:00 AM
The Future of Libraries
Traditional libraries have been caught between declining budgets and the explosive growth of online research. We talk with experts in the field about how the institutions are evolving to meet the changing needs of patrons.
Host: Michael Krasny
Guests:
• Al Escoffier, city librarian for the Burlingame Public Library
• Jane Light, director of the San Jose Library
• Jim Rettig, president of the American Library Association
• Martin Gomez, president of the Urban Libraries Council

Embedded player:

[Direct link to mp3 file]

(Yes, I remember what T. Scott said about discussing the future of libraries.)

Aug 28

EveryZing: Search the Transcript of a (Medical/LIS) Podcast/Video

I frequently like to listen to Uncontrolled Vocabulary, an LIS call-in talk show podcast run by Greg Schwartz.

When he posts each episode, Greg also posts a list of the show’s participants and summary of what was discussed- and that makes the podcast somewhat searchable. If one wants to know when gaming has been discussed, one can use the search field in the right sidebar and get results like these which show three episodes Greg noted as having discussed gaming.

The Problem:
Greg puts a lot of time and effort into Uncontrolled Vocabulary, but itd be much more searchable if Greg transcribed every episode and made that that transcription available for searching. It’d be even cooler if Greg indexed the transcription against timestamps in the audio files so we could jump to the point in the audio where a particular search term is spoken. However, Greg has a job, a family, and a life- so that’s just not a reasonable thing to suggest he do.

EveryZing as the Solution:
Fortunately, EveryZing is already doing it for him.

EveryZing machine-transcribes each episode of Uncontrolled Vocabulary and lets you search that transcript. When it finds your search terms, it links you to the moment in the audio where the search term is spoken.

This link will take you to EveryZing’s index of Uncontrolled Vocabulary episodes. From here you can search not just Greg’s notes on each show, but transcripts. If we use EveryZing to search for “gaming,” we can see that it is mentioned in seven episodes

Say I want to hear the moment in Episode 50 where the phrase “gaming initiatives” appears.

All we have to do is click the hyperlinked timestamp and EverZing will load that episode in a flash player and queue it up to that moment in time. Even cooler, I can embed that player at that timestamp on a Web page…like this:

gaming Uncontrolled Vocabulary – Episode 50! – How we can get good things done

Machine transcription is far from perfect and it is entertaining to see “ALA” transcribed as “Malay,” but I’m pretty impressed by the potential of this technology.

Almost two years ago, I wrote:

Eventually, the metadata of an audio file (any audio file) should contain not just a text transcript of the audio content, but searchable transcript, indexed to minutes and seconds of the audio. Lets say you want to download the latest Library 2.0 Gang podcast specifcally because you want to hear the first thing Michael Stephens has to say on the topic du jour. You should be able to search the Podcast for the word “Stephens”, select the first first hit in the returned search results, and be taken instantly to the first moment in the audio when the word “Stephens” is spoken.

Imagine the usefulness of such a feature for a clinician attempting to find specific details in a podcast he/she has downloaded.

We’re not quite there yet. The transcription is not included in the audio file itself and the portable audio players don’t yet have the software to search it- but EveryZing shows we’re definitely closer. You can search the transcription of NEJM Interviews, JAMA Audio Commentaries, Johns Hopkins PodMed, MedlinePlus: NLM Director’s Comments and others.

Other neat features of EveryZing:

Aug 28

T. Scott on ‘Libraries or Librarians’

My favorite parts of T. Scott’s post:

“As I’ve been saying for years the library is becoming less relevant, and no amount of hand-wringing over what we can do to get people to use the library more is going to change that. But librarians are more relevant than ever, if only we can disengage ourselves from privileging our buildings and collections the way that we do and utilizing our individual skills in more effective and relevant ways.”

“The way I see it, the mission of librarians hasn’t changed at all. But we’re not going to fulfill it if we keep worrying about the future of libraries. There’s way too much interesting and fun work to do to waste time on that.”

Go read the whole thing.

Aug 27

The Health Blogosphere: What It Means for Policy Debates and Journalism

Interesting item via Patricia Anderson: A Kaiser Family Foundation panel on the health blogosphere.

Interesting to note that the only bloggers on the panel are from the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services and the Wall Street Journal. Where are the physician bloggers, patient bloggers, nursing bloggers, etc.?

Aug 27

Eagle Dawg on Pew’s “The Engaged E-Patient Population”

Nikki (at Eagle Dawg Blog) nails down exactly why I didn’t bother posting about the latest from Pew.

(Typical of my cynicism- the report wasn’t worth blogging about, but criticism of the report *is*.)

If you’re not reading Nikki’s blog yet, subscribe now:
[Eagle Dawg Blog – Feed].

Aug 24

WordPress Fun

Oy. Finally performed a long-overdue upgrade of WordPress, so this blog is finally running the latest version. I’m slowly working on a redesign- so if you’re reading this post via RSS, stop by the site and let me know what you think so far.

One thing I’m pleased about is that I’ve finally set up this blog’s mobile version. Those visiting via mobile device (Hi Melissa Rethlefsen and J. Dale Prince!) will see a version more suitable for a small screen.

In case your mobile browser isn’t recognized and automatically shown the mobile version, I’ve put a link at the top left of the header that’ll turn it on:

Please let me know what you think. :)

Aug 20

MedLib Blog Badge at I’m Feeling Lucky

I’m Feeling Lucky is written by Brandi Tuttle, an Information and Education Services Librarian at the Duke University Medical Center Library. Brandi writes:

I’m Feeling Lucky grew out of a discussion with my husband (who’s also a librarian). We were talking about the services and databases offered by libraries. My husband laughingly commented on the usefulness of Google’s “I’m Feeling Lucky” button. That option has value!! Sometimes people just don’t want to go through the work of looking through a library’s list of helpful links (even if all the links rock). One pretty good link will suffice.

I was fortunate to meet Brandi at MLA 2008 and enjoyed her unique style of saying outrageous (and frequently hilarious) things in a sweet, cheerful voice.

Why is David always on about this badgey stuff? Badges? We don’t need no stinkin’ badges!

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:


&#60a href="http://liswiki.org/wiki/Medlib_Blogs"&#62
&#60img src="http://tinyurl.com/y32hh8/"&#62&#60/a&#62

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. :)

Aug 19

A (really good) Idea for a 3rd Party PubMed/MEDLINE Tool

Rachel Walden writes:

What I’d like to do is to be able to enter the PMIDs of several citations and have the tool search MEDLINE via PubMed for the assigned MeSH terms, and return a single list of the terms used by any of the entered citations with a measurement of frequency. For example, if I input PMIDs 16234728, 15674923, and 17443536, the tool would return results telling me that 100% or 3 of 3 use the term “Catheters, Indwelling”, 2 of 3 use “Time Factors,” 1 of the 3 uses “Urination Disorders,” and so on. Although this example uses 3 PMIDs, I’d like to be able to input at least 10, just based on personal experience.

This would be useful in situations where a single “gold standard” search strategy is needed for the purposes of a systematic review or other process – for example, we may find a number of great articles on a topic by using multiple approaches to the search, but have difficulty developing a single strategy that captures them all due to differences in indexing. In effect, it would inform reverse-engineering a search strategy from a pool of relevant citations. It might also be helpful as a teaching tool for medical librarianship students and those new to the profession.

No, it wouldn’t change my medical librarian life, but it would make it easier from time to time!

This is a really great idea and I don’t think it’d be too difficult to implement for a Web applications developer who knows how to work with NCBI’s API tools. Any takers? – David

Aug 18

MEDLINE now indexes JoVE

The Journal of Visualized Experiments (JoVE) is now indexed in MEDLINE/PubMed.

They say on the Jove Blog that “JoVE is the first video-journal to be accepted in PubMed.”

Verrrry interesting. Does anyone know if the NLM has published the standards that might’ve been applied here? Are they the same standards as for text resources? I’m curious to know what other Web-based non-text resources will be indexed in the future.

Aug 15

Pam Dolan on Medpedia in American Medical News

Amidst all the coverage of Medpedia that has generally seemed to be derived from a press release is this more informative article from Pam Dolan at American Medical News.

I’m quoted in the article:

Medical librarian and blogger David Rothman, who regularly writes at DavidRothman.net about medical wikis, expressed concerns about the regular monitoring of Medpedia’s content. “If the academic institutions … wish to avoid embarrassment, I’d recommend that they dedicate some time of their health care experts to regular review of articles,” Rothman wrote.

He estimates about 65 medical wikis exist. He’s not sure what the involvement of prominent medical institutions will mean to the project, noting that comparisons won’t be possible until the site is up and running.

As I usually do when I’m interviewed or quoted, I thought I’d post the entirety of my comments here. Pam got my views partially from this post I wrote about Medpedia and partially from an email. Pam’s questions are bolded:

My question for you is whether or not medpedia will be the largest collaboration of its kind for a medical wiki…

That depends on what you mean by “largest” and what we learn about Medpedia when it comes out of Beta. We haven’t yet seen how many contributors/editors it has or how many articles/words it contains. We won’t know for months after it begins how active a community it has. What other metrics could be used to measure “largeness”? The names of affiliated institutions? Medpedia doesn’t really say exactly what contributions those institutions are making (aside from, apparently, allowing the use of their names and logos).

…and if it will raise the bar for those wanting to develop medical wikis in the future.

I think that remains to be seen. So far, Medpedia looks to the public like a press release and a mock-up. When it is up and running, we can begin to compare it to other efforts. Until then, such comparisons aren’t possible.

Aug 14

How not to pitch David on a post topic

I get email all the time from people who would like me to post about a site. I know that these get sent to a lot of bloggers in health care because I frequently see these sites mentioned on other blogs with 24 hours of receiving the email. I ignore 90% of these either because I think they won’t be of interest to those who read this blog or because I think they’re just lousy sites. I thought it might be fun to look at a recent example of an email I received and how I made the decision to not post about the site (except to write this post).

I’ve removed the sender’s email address (as a courtesy to protect him from spambots) and the hyperlink (to refrain from lending the site any Google Juice).

from: Dixon, Bill < [xxxxxxx]@cohnwolfe.com>
to: David Rothman
date: Wed, Aug 13, 2008 at 10:53 AM
subject: A new interactive healthcare site

Hi David,

I’m writing on behalf of Cephalon, the manufacturer of PROVIGIL.

Just one sentence in and I know this doesn’t look good. It is never a good sign when I get an email from a PR firm instead of from a site’s owner/developer. It is also immediately clear that this email is going to be about a site sponsored by a phamaceutical company that exists solely for the purpose of promoting their drug. Still, I’ll happily promote a commercial site that is really useful (MerckMedicus is a good example of that), so I keep reading to see if this might fall into that category.

I thought you might be interested in letting readers of your blog know about www.StillSleepy.com [hyperlink removed- David] – a site recently launched for people who continue to experience excessive sleepiness even after being treated for obstructive sleep apnea (OSA).

Note: The hyperlink to the site he’s plugging was bungled and directed me to his company’s OWA login. Clumsy.

The sites’ two key components are:

Still Sleepy Tracker – an interactive tool that allows patients to track their sleepiness and print the results to share with their health care provider; this tool can be downloaded to a personal homepage such as iGoogle or Netvibes for users to continually track their sleepiness.

I’m not an expert in sleep medicine, but this seems nowhere near as complete as the diary formats (1 and 2) created by the National Sleep Foundation or this one from the American Academy of Sleep Medicine. A site that allowed the patient to keep a useful diary to share with a doctor (like SugarStats or FertilityFriend do) might be cool- but this is nowhere near as detailed or useful as those sites.

Video diaries – a patient (who is also a physician) shares his experiences living with the disorder and what it’s like to be still sleepy even after treating his OSA.

A new video diary episode has just been posted and new diary entries will continue to be posted over the next several months, so the site will continue to be updated with fresh content.

Let me get this straight: I can come to your site and watch someone else (an internist who does not specialize in sleep medicine) talk on video about how sleepy he has been and how unpleasant it is to have a sleep disorder…and watch him plug Provigil? (Okay, I admit I didn’t even bother watching past the first 30 seconds of the first video, but what a dreadfully dull concept!)

Given your blog’s coverage of healthcare 2.0 sites, I think www.StillSleepy.com would be a great resource for your readers. Feel free to post a link to the site on your blog. I will follow up with you to provide more insight, in the mean time, please do not hesitate to contact me with any questions.

I dunno’. I think (hope) most of this blog’s readers would see through pharma marketing schtick and would notice pretty quickly that it isn’t at all useful.

Aug 12

Synapse

The Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center Library has come up with a neat tool for tracking publications by authors affiliated with the organization.

What is Synapse?

Synapse is a self-service web interface and database supported and maintained by the Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center Library, providing access to an inventory of the published output of our researchers and clinicians. As the name implies, Synapse is the user’s point of “connection” to publications authored by Memorial Sloan-Kettering staff. You can search for specific author names or by journal title, keyword and other fields. The search will return a listing (bibliography) of publications that you can browse, print, export or connect to the fulltext of specific articles.

The term “synapse” was coined in 1897 by the English physiologist Charles Sherrington with help from some of his colleagues. They derived the term from the Greek word “synaptein” meaning to fasten together.

The interface for Synapse allows users to submit, search, and retrieve relevant information about MSKCC published literature that can be used for research, creating bibliographies, completing core grant applications and updates, journal club sessions, and future publications and presentations.

Aug 11

PubMed Quiz

The Saab Memorial Medical Library (at the American University of Beirut) has quizzes to test your PubMed knowledge in both Basic and Advanced flavors.

Just curious: If you teach (or have taught) a class on using PubMed, are these the sorts of questions you’d use to determine how well your students absorbed the material?

Aug 08

MedLib Blog Badge at MGAS nieuws

Jens De Groot’s MGAS nieuws is normally in Flemmish/Dutch, but an English-language version (which seems NOT to be machine-translated) is also available.

MGAS News is the weblog of the Campus Library Biomedical Sciences (MGAS) of the Katholieke Universiteit Leuven (Belgium). Here we offer information from and about our library (services) and biomedical information of interest for researchers, physicians and students.

Why is David always on about this badgey stuff? Badges? We don’t need no stinkin’ badges!

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:


&#60a href="http://liswiki.org/wiki/Medlib_Blogs"&#62
&#60img src="http://tinyurl.com/y32hh8/"&#62&#60/a&#62

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. :)

Aug 07

More Health Information Wikis

I’ve added a few new sites to the list of medical wikis.

No, I’m not going to add Medpedia to it because Medpedia is still in beta. I’m flabbergasted how much press it is getting while not even visible to the public. They must have hired the right PR firm.

Wikis recently added to the list are noted below (details are in the list itself):

Aug 05

MEDLINE Cognition (SemanticMEDLINE.com)

[EDIT: Sandy Swanson notes that “It appears that foreign-language articles are not included in Semantic Medline.” I guess that isn’t surprising. After all, its NLP has to be language-specific and there are more articles in English than any other language.]

I knew that an interface for MEDLINE using Natural Language Processing was being developed at Lister Hill, and PubFocus has been called “semantic MEDLINE” too, but I heard a couple of days ago about a tool from Cognition Technologies called (appropriately enough) SemanticMEDLINE.

I’m going to need to play with it a bit more before having any idea if it’ll be useful to me, but it is interesting.

I searched for “Are probiotics an effective therapy for Crohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis?” and got the following results:

The most interesting part of this is how the panel on the right has drop-down menus for the terms it recognizes, allowing the user to make sure the search is using the correct terms/definitions.

What I don’t understand yet is how these definitions are utilized in performing the PubMed/MEDLINE search.

Be sure to check out the HELP page for notes on the way it uses AND, OR, WITH, and WITHIN operators, the way it uses quotation marks, and how to work with capitalization.

[via]

[Other posts about 3rd Party PubMed Tools]

Aug 04

“Dr. Web Makes Many Americans Question Trusted Health Providers”

Interesting item.

Excerpts:

Thirty-eight percent of U.S. adults (or 85.6 million people) say they have doubted a medical professional’s opinion or diagnosis because it conflicted with information they found online. However, despite the growing power of the Internet, the majority of Americans still view health providers as their most trusted source of medical information.

Previous research indicates that trust in Internet resources is not widespread. However, this study suggests credibility may be influenced by who is authoring the content. Thirteen percent of Americans say they would consult medical professional-developed information posted on blogs, online forums or other Websites first if they believed they had a health condition or disease.

This study reveals that most adult Americans instinctually trust health providers. However, increasingly, they are using online information to critically evaluate medical advice. It also suggests that trust in government and non-profits has significantly eroded. Finally, health communicators and marketers should resist overestimating the impact of patient-generated online content on medical decision-making.

Aug 01

Notes on Medpedia’s changes

I first wrote about Medpedia in January.

I noted in my post that Medpedia did not seem to specify what would qualify an applicant to become a contributor. Medpedia’s Angela Simmons addressed this in the comments:

Anyone with medical and health knowledge is encouraged to apply to become a Contributor. It is not a requirement that you have medical credentials; however, it is important that you are passionate and knowledgeable about at least one topic related to medicine, health and the body.

My concern here is that clinicians should not use an information resource built by people who are not qualified health professionals. Passion is not, in my view, a sufficient qualification.

I also asked Angela if Medpedia was intended to be a resource for professionals (like UpToDate) or a resource for healthcare consumers (like MedlinePlus). Angela replied:

Initially, Medpedia will be a resource for the general public. Over time, with 1000’s of clinicians and researchers on the site, discussing what should be on the main pages, Medpedia will also become a resource for medical professionals, health educators, and medical schools.

This did not seem promising to me. I don’t believe that a single article on a topic can appropriately serve both healthcare professionals and healthcare consumers- their needs are usually quite different.

Medpedia seems to have addressed some of these concerns since that time. Their index page now only invites “Medical Professionals” to “Apply to be a Member, ” and the FAQ says:

There are multiple ways of contributing. If you are an MD or PhD in the biomedical field, you can apply to become an Editor and make changes directly to Medpedia articles (See more below). If you are anyone else, you can use the “Make a suggestion” link at the top of any page to make a suggestion for that page. An approved Editor will review and potentially add your suggestion.

Also interesting to note that Medpedia will be advertising-supported (neither Ganfyd nor AskDrWiki are ad-supported. AskDrWiki is a non-profit). Again from the FAQ:

To support the costs of operation in the future, non-invasive, text-based advertising will be shown on the Medpedia website through third-party ad networks such as Google’s AdSense or Healthline’s third party ad service. Next to these ads on the page will be a link “Flag inappropriate ads” so that the community can keep the ads on the site clean and useful.

Then there’s the question of how reliable the content will be. The FAQ says:

The seed content available on Medpedia at launch is up to date, accurate, and provided by reputable sources. After launch at the end of 2008, once Editors start making edits and adding new pages to the seed content, it is possible, and even likely that there will be mistakes and language that is unclear. This is the nature of a collaborative wiki.

If the site is meant to be used by healthcare professionals, I’d strongly recommend a routine (Monthy? Quarterly?) review of each article by an admin to make sure the content is accurate and up-to-date. To say “it can’t be kept reliable because it is a wiki” is, in my thinking, a cop-out. After all, Medpedia’s own FAQ says the site is meant to be “…a platform to share the most up-to-date medical knowledge.” If the academic institutions listed on the front page of Medpedia wish to avoid embarrassment, I’d reccommend that they dedicate some time of their healthcare experts to regular review of articles.

Prediction:
(Just a guess, but) I think Medpedia’s content will end up focusing mostly on the information needs of healthcare consumers. In that sense, I think it’ll resemble MayoClinic.com

Criticism aside, here are some things about Medpedia that I DO like:

  • Editors/contributors must be qualified health professionals
  • Editors/contributors cannot be anonymous
  • Content is freely usable under a GNU Free Documentation License

What do you think? Do you anticipate other problems I may have missed? Maybe you think I’m being too critical? Share your thoughts in the comments.