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Archive for the ‘Technology’ Category

Research data lost to the sands of time

Friday, December 20th, 2013

A study published online yesterday in Current Biology found that the availability of research study data diminishes with each passing year following study publication.  The authors, from the University of British Columbia, looked at 516 articles published between 1991 and 2011 and first attempted to locate the e-mail addresses of study authors and contact them.  For the e-mail addresses that led to successful contact with an author, they then asked for the study data.  When making their requests, they said that the data was needed for a reproducibility study.  In the discussion section, the authors noted that they may have had a higher success rate in receiving data if they had instead indicated the purpose was for an important medical or conservation project and offered co-auothorship in the resultant paper.

The researchers found that for every year that had passed since the paper’s publication date, the odds of finding an email address that led to contact with a study author decreased by 7% and that the odds of turning up the data reduced by 17% per year.  The authors report that while some of the data sets were truly lost others fell more into the category of “unavailable,” since they existed, but solely on inaccessible media (think Jaz disk).  These findings will not come as a shock to those who have worked in a research lab.  This publication does put some tangible numbers behind the underlying message of NYU Health Sciences Library’s excellent dramatic portrayal of an instance of inaccessible data.  The authors conclude by suggesting that a solution to this problem moving forward can be found in more journals requiring the deposit of data into a public archive upon publication.  I would also suggest that academic institutions can take a role by establishing policies supporting research data preservation alongside providing a data repository.

It is worth noting that the authors of this paper published their study data on Dryad.

An app to be aware of – Bugs & Drugs

Friday, November 22nd, 2013

An important mobile app review was posted on the site iMedicalApps yesterday.  The review of Epocrates’ new app “Bugs & Drugs,” though a bit longer than most of iMedicalApps review pieces is worth a read (here).   In this review, author Timothy Aungst, PharmD, judiciously points out the potential utility of this app billed as a “antimicrobial susceptibility reference” intended to aid clinicians in selecting antibiotics by identifying localized bacterial resistance patterns. (more…)

Why Use MedlinePlus Connect? What Key Informants Say

Tuesday, November 19th, 2013

The National Network of Libraries of Medicine (NN/LM) is assisting the NLM with promoting MedlinePlus Connect. An NN/LM task force conducted interviews with 17 key informants representing the broad spectrum of organizations that are involved with EHR implementation.  Following on last week’s post about NLM’s recent MedlinePlus Connect enhancement, I thought some might be interested in the advantages of this service as identified by the informants.  The interviews included discussion with some innovative hospital librarians who are taking advantage of the dynamic EHR environment and finding ways to be involved with meaningful use at their organizations.

Key informants provided insight into the aspects of MedlinePlus Connect that are the major advantages of the service from their perspective:

• The material is evidence-based and updated regularly.

• MedlinePlus links to primary literature, which is becoming increasingly popular among patients as they become more sophisticated in locating health information.

• Patient information is provided in varying reading levels, multi-media formats, and different languages, with an extensive database of Spanish-language materials.

• Health IT professionals will find easy instructions for integrating MedlinePlus Connect into EHRs.

• MedlinePlus Connect allows health organizations to maintain their identifying information when MedlinePlus information is sought.

The fact that MedlinePlus Connect can be added to EHRs at no cost to users was a definite advantage, but key informants cautioned against calling it a “free resource,” a term that has a negative connotation among health professionals. It would be more effective to call it a “non-commercial service paid for by the National Library of Medicine with no cost to users.”

The Meaningful Use measure for providing patient-specific education materials was optional for Stage 1 and becomes a core requirement in Stage 2.  Key informants said that patient portals were the emerging issue of the year as organizations focus on Stage 2 criteria.  The time to promote MedlinePlus Connect is now as we move towards 2014 when Stage 2 implementation begins.

Have you tried implementing MedlinePlus Connect?  Do these advantages ring true to you?

MedlinePlus Connect service update

Thursday, November 14th, 2013

MedlinePlus Connect is a free service from the National Library of Medicine that can link the health information resource MedlinePlus.gov to EHRs and patient portals.  Connect can be set up as a web service or web application and delivers relevant consumer level information on conditions, medications and labs from MedlinePlus after receiving a request  from the EHR via a coding system (ICD-9, SNOMED CT, RXCUI, LOINC).  For eligible providers and hospitals, using MedlinePlus Connect may help meet the Meaningful Use measure of providing patient-specific education materials.

Beginning this month MedlinePlus Connect will respond to some SNOMED CT codes with information from both MedlinePlus and NLM’s Genetics Home Reference (GHR) web site.  GHR is the NLM’s resource for consumer information on diseases and conditions with known or suspected genetic factors.  This feature is only available for  English SNOMED CT requests. To test it out, go to either the MedlinePlus Connect web application or web service, select the SNOMED CT radio button and enter the code 445243001 for ulcerative colitis.

Young Invincibles Video Contest (Raising Awareness About the New Health Care Law)

Friday, September 6th, 2013

Young Invincibles and the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services have created a competition  that will tap into the creativity and energy of young Americans while raising awareness about the new Health Care Law and encouraging young people to take advantage of the benefits of health insurance.  With a prize pool worth up to $30,000, and over 100 prizes to be won, this is your opportunity to shine!  Cash prizes will be awarded to the creators of the best videos in three distinct categories; so whether you’ve got a talent for short films, writing a great song, or designing an entertaining video infographic, you can be a winner!

Videos can be submitted during the five-week period starting on Monday, August 19th.  A public voting period will follow to help determine the finalists in each category, and a final round of voting and judging will determine who takes home the Grand Prize.

More information about the contest and how to enter is available from the Young Invincibles web site: http://health.younginvincibles.org/video-contest/

3D Printing: an Overview

Tuesday, July 16th, 2013

When I first heard about 3D printing, I assumed it was some sort of gimmick – an expensive gadget that people could use to “print” their own hokey plastic figurines.  In reality though, this is far from the truth and while expensive, these devices have the capability to create some very cool and also practical objects.  A 3D printer is a machine that prints multi-layer objects from digital models created with computer aided design (CAD) software programs.  Unlike traditional office printers, 3D printers do not print in ink.  There is a wide range of substances that objects can be printed from – depending on the desired outcome – from plastics to food stuffs.  Having trouble visualizing how this process works?  This video (http://video.seattletimes.com/1279920256001/3d-printing-at-uw/) featuring students and faculty of Mechanical Engineering labs at the University of Washington provides a great visual look at how 3D printing works.

3D printers have a multitude of uses and potential uses that are being explored across domains. (more…)