Sep 11

EBSCO’s Free Influenza Portal

New to me.

EBSCO has a portal for free information on the ‘flu from

Due to Pandemic H1N1 Influenza and concerns about the 2009/2010 flu season, the EBSCO Publishing Medical and Nursing editors of DynaMed™, Nursing Reference Center™ (NRC) and Patient Education Reference Center™ (PERC) have made key influenza information from these resources freely available to health care providers worldwide.

The editorial teams will monitor the research and update these resources continuously throughout the upcoming flu season.

Sep 07

Lin On PubGet and 3rd Party PubMed Tools

Since I don’t have the option of implementing PubGet (previously mentioned) at my place of work, getting to read about the experiences that others have had with it is a treat.

Over at Up to the Waves, Lin shares her observations.

Lin also writes, however:

Pubget is only one of the 3rd party life science search engines that tries to create shortcut to search PubMed. If you are a serious researcher, my advise is using the 3rd party search engines with caution or as a pre-search. Getting comfortable and familiar using PubMed itself is your goal. If you need assistance using PubMed, contact your medical librarians.

I can’t wholly agree with this. Not all 3rd-Party PubMed/Medline tools are meant to replace PubMed, and some can simply do things that PubMed itself cannot. If you are a serious researcher, my advice is to make yourself aware of all the tools at your disposal, and use the best ones for the purpose at hand.

Sep 03

Physician Rating Sites: Pew-pew-pew!

Bleah. Yet another article about Web sites for rating doctors.

Is anyone else really tired of seeing these articles and pretending these sites matter? They might one day, but they don’t now.

pew-pew-pew-small Anyway, the Pew Internet and American Life Project (Please tell me I’m not the only one who quietly thinks “pew-pew-pew!” to himself every time Pew is mentioned?) says:

Nearly half (47%) of internet users, or 35% of adults, have turned to the internet for information about doctors or other health professionals.”

Nothing surprising there.

“These health information seekers, however, are not likely to post their own reviews of doctors: just 7% of those who looked for information about doctors online (and 4% of all internet users) report posting a review of a doctor online.”

Well, nothing surprising there, either. The vast majority of Wikipedia’s users (or Digg’s) are there to read, not to contribute. Isn’t this the overwhelming trend in most “social media”? (And wouldn’t noting this context be important? What does this item from Pew mean without such context?)

I’ll state again that I think every physician rating site I’ve seen is useless. When patrons (or friends) ask me how to find a good specialist, I recommend avoiding these sites. The advice I gave one family member was to get in touch with local, regional, and national patient support groups for the diagnosed (or suspected) condition necessitating a visit to a specialist. If you want the opinion of informed patients, that’s where you’ll find it.

Just for good measure:

I like lolcats. Sue me.

Sep 02

All Your HealthBase Are Belong to Us (Updated 9/3/2009)

[Update]

The folks at Netbase have issued an apology:

Our first release of healthBase yesterday surfaced a few embarrassing and offensive bugs. These were far in the minority of results but enough to keep us up late improving the site. We sincerely regret and apologize in particular for any offense caused.

…I wasn’t offended. I just thought the tool was awful.

[/Update]

TechCrunch called healthBase “The Ultimate Medical Content Search Engine.”

I beg to differ. Rather than getting into what it is supposed to do, lets just try a few queries and see how its semantic technologies perform.

First, a search for causes of AIDS.

As a Red Sea Pedestrian myself, I’m fascinated to learn that Jews cause AIDS. Huh. What if I was a Jewish Physiotherapist? How would I live with myself?

Next, we’ll look at the “Pros & Cons of lithotripsy”:

Take a look at the “Pros” list. These are just partial phrases describing what lithotripsy is. This list of pros and cons make no sense at all.

Among the sources it searches:
– Wikipedia
– NaturalNews.com (Check out the embedded video in the right sidebar and listen to the lyrics- there’s some idiotic stuff there)

I’d recommend to healthBase that they dump these and instead search sites like MedlinePlus.

HealthBase isn’t even a good medical content search engine, much less the “ultimate”.

Sep 02

Pharma Linkdump

Pharma items that caught my attention over the last couple of months:

http://itp.pharmacy.dal.ca/Scenarios/Pumed_searching_for_.php
Great tutorial from the Dalhousie University College of Pharmacy on searching for drug information in PubMed.

http://therapeuticseducation.org/
Produced by UBC Faculty

The main goal of the Therapeutics Education Collaboration (TEC) is to provide physicians, pharmacists, nurses, nurse practitioners, physician assistants, other health professionals, and the public with current, evidence-based, practical and relevant information on rational drug therapy. The overall philosophy of the TEC is to encourage clinicians to engage in shared informed decision-making, critical thinking, and exercise some degree of healthy skepticism when it comes to the use of new and old medications.

Be sure to to check out the podcast

http://womenshealthnews.wordpress.com/2009/07/02/where-is-medlineplus-in-google-drug-search-results/
Medical Librarian and blogger Rachel Walden notes that Google searches for drug information no longer seem to return results from MedlinePlus. I agree with one commenter that this is mostly likely the result of SEO, and Rachel asks just the right follow-up questions: “Should NLM be spending time/money on SEO? Should Google find better ways to block SEO efforts on quality-sensitive topics like health information?”

http://wikis.ala.org/acrl/index.php/Information_Literacy_in_Pharmacy
From the ACRL Wiki comes this list of resources on Information Literacy in Pharmacy.

http://sideeffects.embl.de/
SIDER (Side Effects Resource) is new to me.

SIDER contains information on marketed medicines and their recorded adverse drug reactions. The information is extracted from public documents and package inserts. The available information include side effect frequency, drug and side effect classifications as well as links to further information, for example drug–target relations.

Sep 01

Web Geekery in Recent Literature, 9/1/2009

Welcome to another installment of Web Geekery in Recent Literature, where we point out recent articles in the indexed literature of potential interest to the Geeky and Web-obsessed.

Plagiarism of online material may be proven using the Internet Archive Wayback Machine (archive.org).
PMID: 19716663

Many writers and researchers are reluctant to publish online for fear that their work will be plagiarized and used without attribution elsewhere. For example, junior or freelance researchers may worry that their ideas will be ‘stolen’ and published under the name of professional or senior researchers; and that then it could be hard to convince people that in fact the idea had originated elsewhere. However, if this happens, plagiarism may be objectively proven by a service called the Internet Archive Wayback Machine (archive.org). Archive.org permits clarification of the issue of dates – and allows the reader to draw their own conclusions about authorship, whether charitable or otherwise. In sum, archive.org is a little known, freely available and potentially very useful mechanism for defending intellectual property rights.

I’d be willing to be that there’s not a single librarian reader of this blog who wasn’t already quite aware of the Wayback Machine.

Medical professionalism in the age of online social networking.
PMID: 19717700

The rapid emergence and exploding usage of online social networking forums, which are frequented by millions, present clinicians with new ethical and professional challenges. Particularly among a younger generation of physicians and patients, the use of online social networking forums has become widespread. In this article, we discuss ethical challenges facing the patient-doctor relationship as a result of the growing use of online social networking forums. We draw upon one heavily used and highly trafficked forum, Facebook, to illustrate the elements of these online environments and the ethical challenges peculiar to their novel form of exchange. Finally, we present guidelines for clinicians to negotiate responsibly and professionally their possible uses of these social forums.

Huh. This seems somehow familiar…

Informed patients are not a threat.
PMID: 19717986

We’ve all been there; the embarrassing realisation that, despite being a so-called health-care professional and the supposed fount of all knowledge, a patient or relative knows more about a condition than we do. Some of us can take it on the chin and defer, after all, the internet and modern media has made access to information that much easier – anyone with a PC and a spare half an hour can find out exactly how Dengue fever is transmitted (by the Aedes aegypti mosquito, in case you are interested). Not everyone can be that magnanimous though – as a student, I remember being intensely annoyed by a woman who told me that I was being impatient with her husband, a man with Alzheimer’s, and that I needed to adopt a calmer approach when I took him to the toilet. She was right, of course – but I was simply furious.

Say it with me, clinicians: “Informed patients are not a threat.” Make it your mantra.

(This comment dedicated to e-patient Dave.)

Sep 01

Understanding Medical Tests with Wolfram|Alpha

I thought Wolfram|Alpha was pretty neat when I first heard about it and looked over the examples of its potential use in Health and Medicine, but I didn’t really give it another look until I stumbled across this post from the Wolfram|Alpha blog, “Understanding Medical Tests with Wolfram|Alpha”.

Bookmarked for later potential use.

Aug 27

Radiopaedia for the iPhone

Radiopaedia (previously mentioned here) has made available (at no charge via the iPhone App Store) a Radiopaedia Radiology Teaching File of “50 CNS cases comprising 170 images, questions and detailed text.”

Neat. Still, I’d like to know how many health infomation wikis are set up to deliver a mobile version for a variety of mobile browsers.

This reminds me: I’m going to need to do an update on my list of medical wikis in the near future. If you know of any that I don’t have listed, please leave a comment or drop me an email?

Aug 18

Awesome MedLib Blog: PubMed Search Strategies

This kind of blog is sooooo useful to searchers like me who are clearly less experienced and expert than the author of PubMed Search Strategies, Cindy Schmidt, M.D., M.L.S.

“This blog has been created to share PubMed search strategies. Search strategies posted here are not perfect. They are posted in the hope that others will benefit from the work already put into their creation and/or will offer suggestions for improvements. Librarians who wish to post comments on this blog or who wish to become authors are invited to e-mail me.”

Example post shown below:

pmss

[via: Melissa Rethlefsen and Mark Rabnett]

Aug 13

Trial-X

This blog has looked at Clinical Trial search tools previously. Some highlights included:

Also useful for non-clinician is the MedlinePlus page on clinical trials.

Trial-X does a couple of things differently.

First is that it seems Trial-X can gather your demographic information and diagnosis from your Google Health account or your Microsoft HealthVault account and apply it to your clinical trial search.

Second is that the search criteria one can apply is far more detailed than in any of the other search tools I’ve seen.

Then it maps your information on a grid to see if you’re a good match for the trials known to the system:

And if there’s no good match? Trial-X will email you if it finds one.

I’ve only given it a quick once-over, but it looks pretty neat. Anyone else tried it? Any insights?

Aug 10

PubMed-EX

PubMed-EX is a really interesting Firefox Add-on or Greasemonkey Script.

PubMed-EX is a browser extension that marks up PubMed search results with additional information retrieved from IISR & IASL text-mining services. PubMed-EX’s page mark-up includes section categorization, gene/disease name, and relation.

The mark-ups of PubMed-EX can help researchers quickly focus on key information in retrieved abstracts and can provide additional background information on key terms. Furthermore, our text-mining server carries out all text-mining processing, freeing up users’ resources.

pubmedexexample

Try this- it’s way cool.

[PubMed-EX]

Aug 05

Quertle®: More Semantic MEDLINE Search

quertle

What New Users Should Know
(How is Quertle® different?)

1. Find true relationships, not simple co-occurrences
On Quertle, if you search for two or more terms, you will find documents in which those terms occur in a conceptual relationship, not simply scattered within the same document. You won’t always find as many, but you weren’t really going to read 14,578 documents, were you?

2. Quertle understands biology and chemistry
Quertle understands the difference between “TWIST”, the helix-loop-helix transcription factor, and “twist”, the verb. So, use proper capitalization in your query, and you won’t be lost in a sea of irrelevant results.

3. Power Terms™ enable you to query for categories of objects
Use Power Terms™ to query for categories of objects, such as any protein or chemical (not simply the occurrence of the terms). See the Power Terms™ link under the query box for further instructions and the list of currently-supported Power Terms™. Use them; we’ll know what they mean. Want other Power Terms™? Let us know.

4. Useful help
Throughout the site, mouse over the (?) to see helpful hints. To answer many of your other questions, such as why there appear to be duplicate results, please read the Help and FAQ documents (links at the bottom of the page).

Things to look for on the Results page (check the (?) hints on that page):
a. More relevant results
b. Easy filtering and breadcrumb tracking
c. Key concepts automatically identified for you, including members of any Power Term™ categories used in your query

I definitely like the highlighting of search terms and the terms Quertle sees as synonymous:

I like the refinement tools to the right of search results:

It bothers me a bit that Quertle doesn’t actually identify who created or maintains it:

Who is behind Quertle?
Quertle has been created by biomedical scientists, chemists, and linguistic experts, who have many decades of experience with research and finding relevant information to support that research.

Since Quertle is essentially doing keyword searches, its power would be significantly improved if it supported Boolean operators.

Librarians, be sure to check out the Power Terms™. Currently-supported terms are listed here– what others would you like to see?

For more, see Quertle’s Help page.

Aug 04

Facebook and the Green-Eyed Monster of Jealousy (WGiRL – 8/4/2009)

Heh.

Cyberpsychol Behav. 2009 Aug;12(4):441-4.
More information than you ever wanted: does Facebook bring out the green-eyed monster of jealousy?
Muise A, Christofides E, Desmarais S.

Department of Psychology, University of Guelph, Ontario, Canada. amuise@uoguelph.ca

The social network site Facebook is a rapidly expanding phenomenon that is changing the nature of social relationships. Anecdotal evidence, including information described in the popular media, suggests that Facebook may be responsible for creating jealousy and suspicion in romantic relationships. The objectives of the present study were to explore the role of Facebook in the experience of jealousy and to determine if increased Facebook exposure predicts jealousy above and beyond personal and relationship factors. Three hundred eight undergraduate students completed an online survey that assessed demographic and personality factors and explored respondents’ Facebook use. A hierarchical multiple regression analysis, controlling for individual, personality, and relationship factors, revealed that increased Facebook use significantly predicts Facebook-related jealousy. We argue that this effect may be the result of a feedback loop whereby using Facebook exposes people to often ambiguous information about their partner that they may not otherwise have access to and that this new information incites further Facebook use. Our study provides evidence of Facebook’s unique contributions to the experience of jealousy in romantic relationships.

PMID: 19366318

Aug 03

MedlineRanker

Learned about MedlineRanker through this recent article:

The biomedical literature is represented by millions of abstracts available in the Medline database. These abstracts can be queried with the PubMed interface, which provides a keyword-based Boolean search engine. This approach shows limitations in the retrieval of abstracts related to very specific topics, as it is difficult for a non-expert user to find all of the most relevant keywords related to a biomedical topic. Additionally, when searching for more general topics, the same approach may return hundreds of unranked references. To address these issues, text mining tools have been developed to help scientists focus on relevant abstracts. We have implemented the MedlineRanker webserver, which allows a flexible ranking of Medline for a topic of interest without expert knowledge. Given some abstracts related to a topic, the program deduces automatically the most discriminative words in comparison to a random selection. These words are used to score other abstracts, including those from not yet annotated recent publications, which can be then ranked by relevance. We show that our tool can be highly accurate and that it is able to process millions of abstracts in a practical amount of time. MedlineRanker is free for use and is available at http://cbdm.mdc-berlin.de/tools/medlineranker.

[PubMed]
Free Full Text: [HTML] [PDF]
Nucleic Acids Res. 2009 July 1; 37: W141–W146.
Published online 2009 July 1. doi: 10.1093/nar/gkp353.
PMCID: PMC2703945

Jul 31

Health Media CSE from Hunter College

Shawn McGinniss at Hunter College let me know that Hunter’s Health Professions Education Center created a Google Custom Search Engine for searching out “health-related videos and other interactive media.”

You can try it here.

According to the CSE’s main page:

Since many educational organizations and media outlets now host full-length content online, this custom search engine aims to make it easier to find quality educational content for students, faculty, and service providers in the health professions. Our goal is to quickly and efficiently locate videos, documentaries, podcasts, lectures, interactive flash content, and other educational media. Targeted topics include nursing, public health, medicine, physical therapy, nutrition, HIV/AIDS, epidemiology, medical lab sciences, communication sciences, psychology, etc.

Shawn also allowed me to post this list of the sites the CSE searches [XML] so you can see what sites his CSE searches. This allows you to not only build on or refine his work for your own purposes, but to suggest additional resources to Shawn (having checked that his CSE isn’t already searching ’em).

If you like, you can add this CSE to your iGoogle.

Jul 30

Family Practice POC Web Geekery

University of Wisconsin Department of Family Medicine physician Derek Hubbard, MD instructs family doctors on how to find clinical information [on the Web] at the point of care.

There are definitely some good tips for clinicians here, but a couple that make me a little uneasy (like using info from About.com as a patient handout).

Dr. Hubbard might also be interested in using the Consumer Health and Patient Education Search Engine.

[Hattip: Ratcatcher]

Jul 29

“Article of the Future”

Cell Press and Elsevier have launched a project called Article of the Future [link] that is an ongoing collaboration with the scientific community to redefine how the scientific article is presented online. The project’s goal is to take full advantage of online capabilities, allowing readers individualized entry points and routes through the content, while using the latest advances in visualization techniques. We have developed prototypes for two articles from Cell to demonstrate initial concepts and get feedback from the scientific community.

Craig Stoltz may be more impressed with these than I am, but he asks an interesting question:

WHY IN HOT SCREAMING HELL HAVE MAINSTREAM NEWS PUBLISHERS NOT DEVELOPED AN “ARTICLE OF THE FUTURE” BASED ON USE WEB CASES LIKE THIS OVER, OH, I DON’T KNOW, THE LAST 15 YEARS OR SO?

Anyone? Bueller?