A few posts back I just discussed that Personalized Genetics has not fulfilled its promise yet. But what about PeRSSonalized Medicine, just launched by Bertalan Mesko?
Bertalan Meskó is a medical student from Hungary, who runs the award-winning medical blog Scienceroll. According to the web 2.0 model of Hugh Carpenter, mentioned in a previous post, Bertalan (Berci) just finished his journey as a Web 2.0 jedi: he started a web 2.0 company: Webicina. Webicina offers a personalized set of web 2.0 tools to help medical professionals and patients enter the web 2.0 world.
To be honest I was a bit skeptical at first. When I think of web 2.0, I think of it as *open, *collaborative, *creative commons, *networking, ****collective intelligence (Elizabeth Koch). Web 2.0 exists by the mere fact that people want to share information for free. Later I realized that this initiative is comparable to individualized courses that you have to pay for as well. Webicina will also offer some free tools, especially for patients.
One such free tool is PeRSSonalized Medicine. The RSS in PeRSSonalized Medicine stands for Real Simple Syndication, which is a format for delivering regularly changing web content, i.e. from Journals. PeRSSonalized Medicine is a free tool meant to help those users who cannot spend much time online (e.g. medical professionals). It helps them track medical journals, blogs, news and web 2.0 services really easily and creates one personalized place where they can follow international medical content without having a clue what RSS is about (see post at Scienceroll)”
PeRSSonalized Medicine has a beautiful and straightforward interface. There are 5 separate sources you can follow: (1) Medical Journals, (2) Blogs, (3) News and (4) Media (including Youtube channels, Friendfeed rooms or Del.icio.us tags), and (5) “articles” in PubMed (to setup this you have to perform a search in a separate toolbar).
The items included are partly of general interest -i.e. the Medical Journals includes 13 titles, including the BMJ, the JAMA and the Lancet-, partly it is very specialized, i.e. on the field of genetics. A lot of Journals are not included and Web 2.0 sources tend to be more represented than the official media/journals.Thus this tool seems most suited for the generalist and people wanting to follow web 2.0 tools. On the other hand – and this is a clear advantage- the content develops as wishes and suggestions are taken into account.
Each Tab can be personalized by simply hiding the titles you don’t want to include (under the button personalize it), but settings are only saved after registration.
The view of the personalized page is pleasant and neat. You see short titles of the 10 latest articles of the sources you have subscribed to. Moving your mouse over the titles will reveal more information and once you clicked the link it turns grey instead of blue. What I miss is the button: more, so you can catch up if you have missed older articles. Especially with media and journals that often have more than 10 new articles per issue, even more so if the first 10 titles consist of “obituaries” (BMJ).
The latest addition to PeRSSonalized Medicine (5) is the possibility to subscribe to a Pubmed search so “you can also follow the latest articles in your field of interest without going back to PubMed again and again and doing a search for your favourite term. Make this process automatic with PeRSSonalized Medicine.”
However, as most of you may know, you don’t have to go back to Pubmed over and over again to “do” your search, but you can easily subscribe to a search in PubMed either by email (My NCBI) or by RSS (see for instance this post in Dutch). Although the process of subscribing is not as intuitive as it is in PeRSSonalized medicine, PubMed is better suited to design a good search strategy. To keep abreast of the latest information in your field a good search forms the basis. It hurts my heart as a librarian that most web 2.0 people are more fixed on the technique of how to subscribe to a feed (RSS) than on good search results. Remember, it still is: garbage in, garbage out. RSS is just the drain.
As an example I show two RSS feeds below, one with more appropriate terms (pulmonary embolism and d-dimer) than the other (lung embolism and d-dimer). Pulmonary embolism is a MeSH. It is evident that with lung embolism articles will be missed just by choosing wrong/less optimal terms.
Again the presentation of results is pleasant. Apart from the search restrictions I don’t find it very handy to look up each paper in HubMed (for that is where the link takes you).
Personally I prefer regular e-mail-alerts at specific intervals (via MyNCBI). I would like to look up citations either individually (if there is just 1 interesting hit) or all at once (10-50 hits). In PubMed, results can be selected, PDF’s directly downloaded from the library website and citations can be kept in My NCBI Collections or imported into a reference manager system. A RSS-feed of Pubmed searches is also handy (see below).
The idea presented on Webicina, although fancy, is not new. Consider the following alternative web tools, also build on data collected from RSS feeds.
Amedeo is dedicated to the free dissemination of medical knowledge. It is an international free service that will send you weekly literature updates in medical subjects of your choosing. At the same time a personalized website is made, with subscriptions to the journals you selected. You can retrieve the articles in text or in HTML-format. The HTML format brings you to the latest results for that Journal in PubMed. This service seems most suitable for specific medical disciplines. General topics (family physician) are not available, although it is possible to subscribe to for instance the American Journal of Family Physicians. As with all these free literature services, you will have to subscribe. It is easy to select or deselect journals in a category (tick boxes).
Amedeo also has Free Books For Doctors, but no podcasts or blogs. You can search the site, but you cannot easily look up individual journals.
MedWorm (and LibWorm)
MedWorm is a free medical RSS feed provider as well a a search engine. It is meant both for doctor and patient. There are many medical categories that you can subscribe to, via the free MedWorm online service, or another RSS reader of your choice, such as Google Reader. The number of RSS-feeds is enormous: >6000. There are a publications directory, a blog directory, a blog tag cloud, consumer health news, discussion and several specific topics, like cancers, drugs, vaccines and education. Within the publications directory there is a further subdivision in: Consumer – Info – Journals – News – Organizations – Podcasts.
Many specialties are represented, including primary care and veterinary science. I tried it out and subscribed to some Addison’s disease related topics, Reuter’s Health and my own blog, which has recently been included. When you subcribe via the Medworm-RSS all news can be read in “My River of News”. It shows the titles and part of the abstracts (see Fig. below).
You can subscribe to single items or categories, but it is not possible to in- and exclude individual feeds within a topic or category by a single action. So within Endocrinology I cannot selectively exclude all diabetes journals, but (as far as I can see) I have to subscribe to each individual journal, if I don’t want the whole package. The loading of the River of News takes long, sometimes.
DO IT YOURSELF (or let the library do it for you)
Sometimes the library will set up a personalized start page. See for instance the Dermatology page created with Netvibes at the Central Medical Library, University Medical Center Groningen (UMCG). Doesn’t it look beautiful?
And isn’t the tool below superb looking? Well, I constructed it myself on basis of what Ves Dimov wrote in the post “Make Your Own “Medical Journal” with iGoogle Personalized Page”, he submitted to the first MedLib”s round. And I had a little “life” help from Ves via Twitter, because things have changed a bit. All you need is a free Google mail (G-mail) account, just go to Google.com/IG (or search the web for I-Google) and subscribe. First you can create your start page with all kind of gadgets (like clock, G-mail inbox and weather forecast, see Figure below) and then you can add other tabs (encircled below). The Medical Journal and Journals Tabs I just took from Ves by clicking on the links he gave in his post: RSS feeds of the “Big Five” medical journals (NEJM, JAMA, BMJ, Lancet and Annals) plus 2-3 subpecialty journals and the podcasts of 4 major medical journals in iGoogle.
Once you have these tabs you can edit them (add, delete, move) as you like.
All the above tools are based on RSS, which means Real Simple Syndication. It isn’t called Simple for nothing. You can easily do it yourself, which means that you have more freedom in what you subscribe to. Because I-Google doesn’t scale well beyond 50 or so RSS feeds, other RSS-readers are advisable once you subscribe to many different feeds (see Wikipedia for list and comparison) . I use Google-Reader, shown below, for this purpose.
Generally, adding Feeds is easy. In Firefox you often see the orange RSS-logo in the web browser (just click on it to add the feed) and most Journals and blogs have a RSS-button on their page, that enables subscription to their feed.
As detailed in another (Dutch) Post, numerous Pubmed searches can be easily added to your RSS-reader. You build up a good search in Pubmed, for instance: (pulmonary embolism[mh] OR pulmonary embolism* OR lung embolism*) AND (“Fibrin Fibrinogen Degradation Products”[Mesh] OR d-dimer). In “the Results” you click on “Send To” and choose RSS-Feed and add it to your reader. That’s all.
PeRSSonalized Medicine is a free tool which lets you subscribe to a small and rather skewed selection of journals, news, media and blogs and (straightforward) PubMed searches. The strong points of this tool are: the beautiful design, the ease of use for people not used to web 2.0 tools including RSS, and its continuous development, seeking active input from its users. To speak with dr Shock’s: It is meant for a physician who is not web savvy, never heard of RSS and never wants to, not a geek, nerd, and still wants to stay up to date with health 2.0 or medicine 2.0.”
But there are other free tools around with more (subscription) possibilities and with a little more investment of time you can do it yourself and make subscriptions really perssonalized. Once you know it is simple, believe me.
You may also want to read:
http://laikaspoetnik.wordpress.com/2008/02/15/rss-feed-en-pubmed/ (about RSS and Pubmed – Dutch)