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Archive for the ‘Communications Tools’ Category

NLM Mourns William G. Harless, PhD, Creator of the First Natural Language Computer Patient Simulation Model

William G. Harless, President and CEO of Interactive Drama Inc. and former National Library of Medicine employee and contractor, passed away this past May. Dr. Harless’ contributions to the NLM were many, including the creation of the first voice-activated interactive video patient simulation model in the mid-1980s. As Director of NLM’s Technological Innovations in Medical Education (TIME) Project, he received the 1986 NLM Regents Award for Scholarship or Technical Achievement and an award in the category of Best Educational Achievement at the University of Nebraska, both for the development of his model which combined voice recognition, interactive video, and computer technologies.

Bill Harless held a PhD degree in psychology and learning theory. He also had held faculty positions at five major universities and the Union for Experimenting Colleges and Universities, where accredited doctorate degrees are awarded from a multidisciplinary, experientially based curriculum. He developed the first natural language computer patient simulation model at the University of Illinois School of Medicine in Chicago in the early 1960s. Dr. Harless published over 50 articles on natural language interactive simulation as a learning strategy and was a recognized expert in the field. In 1991, he was awarded a patent for his voice-controlled video simulation model. He was awarded a second patent in 1996 for his dynamic prompting system. In 2005, a third patent was awarded on a method of distributing his model over a computer network, and in 2010 he was awarded a patent for his method for analyzing natural language text to yield a meaningful response to a free-speech inquiry.

How to Use Hashtags to Increase Social Media Presence

If you have determined that the use of social media channels is appropriate for your organization, you will quickly encounter hashtags, which are user-controlled categories prefaced with a pound sign. Hashtags were once limited to Twitter but are now used on most social media sites, including Facebook and Google+. Conversational, concise, and consistent use of up to two hashtags per social media message can result in double the amount of user engagement compared to messages without them. For more statistics specific to Twitter and user engagement, Buffer’s blog provides an excellent overview.

What are some of the ways to show that hashtags increase user engagement with your organization’s message? Look for performance indicators of reposts (the use of ‘Share’ on Facebook or retweets on Twitter), replies (comments under the message from Facebook followers, replies to the tweet from Twitter users), the number of clicks to any links included in your message (ideally to your organization’s website and resources), and hashtag usage frequency. For tips on how to track these performance indicators and additional statistics regarding hashtag creation and use, check out this helpful infographic.

Evaluating Social Media Activities

For public sector and nonprofit organizations, social media can be a cost effective way to engage with users and supporters. However, social media is not without its cost, particularly in terms of staff time. So organizations have an interest in assessing the value of their social media activities.

One great resource for social media evaluation is Paine’s book, Measure What Matters. The book contains detailed guidance for evaluating social media use by different types of organizations. A great supplement to Paine’s book is The Nonprofit Social Media Decision Guide, by Idealware, which has worksheets that will help plan social media strategies and implement recommendations in Measure What Matters.

Below are the key elements of Paine’s evaluation framework:

  • Begin with a solid social media plan that identifies specific goals and objectives. As with any project, you need a plan for social media that links strategies to the organizational mission and includes objectives with targets and key performance indicators. Objectives for social media in the public sector often belong in one of two categories: helping users find information they need; or building user awareness, engagement, or loyalty. (The Nonprofit Social Media Decision Guide provides a list of potential objectives on page 52.)
  • Define your target audience: Organizations often have many stakeholder groups, so it’s important to identify the groups most attuned to social media. On page 54 of The Nonprofit Social Media Decision Guide, there is a worksheet for narrowing down stakeholder audiences to those most receptive to social media activities.
  • Pick your metrics: Metrics such as views, followers, and measures of engagement with online content will help monitor your reach. Conversions, defined as the actions you want your social media followers to complete, might include becoming members of your organization or actively recommending your organization to colleagues or friends.
  • Identify a source for benchmarks. Benchmarks provide a basis for comparison to assess progress. Organizations often use their own histories as benchmarks, comparing progress against baseline measures. You also may have access to data from a competing or peer organization that you can use for comparison.
  • Pick a measurement tool: Paine’s book describes different measurement methods for evaluating social media, such as content analysis, web analytics, or surveys.

For more information, check out the resources mentioned in this blog post:

  • Katie Delahaye Paine, Measure What Matters: Online Tools For Understanding Customers, Social Media, Engagement, and Key Relationships. Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley & Sons, Inc, 2011.
  • Idealware. The Nonprofit Social Media Decision Guide, 2013.

New SurveyMonkey Mobile App Available!

SurveyMonkey recently launched a mobile app for the iPad and iPhone, providing the ability to create, send, and monitor surveys from a phone or tablet device. The app is free, although you need a SurveyMonkey account to use it. With the new app, there’s no longer a need to rely on a computer to design and manage surveys. The app also allows convenient viewing of data from any location with Internet access. Another notable benefit is that the analytic reports are optimized for mobile devices and are easy to read on small screens. Although there is not yet an Android app, all SurveyMonkey pages and surveys are optimized for any mobile device, so surveys are easy to take regardless of the operating system used.

Maximizing Questionnaire Response Rates

The American Medical Association has specific recommendations for its authors about questionnaire response rates included in the JAMA Instructions for Authors. One of the guidelines is that survey studies should have sufficient response rates (generally at least 60%) and appropriate characterization of nonresponders to ensure that nonresponse bias does not threaten the validity of the findings. However, response rates to questionnaires have been declining over the past 20 years, as reported by the Pew Research Center in The Problem of Declining Response Rates. Fortunately, suggestions about increasing questionnaire response rates are available in two recent AEA365 blog posts that are open access:

Additional useful advice, such as making questionnaires short, personalizing your mailings, and sending full reminder packs to nonrespondents, is included in this open access article: Sahlqvist S, et al., “Effect of questionnaire length, personalisation and reminder type on response rate to a complex postal survey: randomised controlled trial.” BMC Medical Research Methodology 2011, 11:62.

Free Images for Evaluation Reports!

The current trend in evaluation reporting is toward fewer words and more images. There are a number of companies that offer high-quality, royalty free photographs at minimal cost. Stockfresh, for example, charges as little as $1 per image. However, no-cost is even better than low-cost. Freelancers Union, a nonprofit organization dedicated to assisting freelance workers, recently published a list of the best websites for no-cost images. If you are looking for free images for your presentations or reports, check out their article, which also describes the difference between public domain, royalty-free and Creative Commons-licensed images.

PubMed Commons: A New Forum for Scientific Discourse

PubMed Commons HomepageNCBI has released PubMed Commons, currently in pilot phase, which is a system that enables researchers to share their opinions about scientific publications. Researchers can comment on any publication indexed by PubMed, and read the comments of others. PubMed Commons is a forum for open and constructive criticism and discussion of scientific issues. It will thrive with high quality interchange from the scientific community. PubMed Commons is currently in a closed pilot testing phase, which means that only invited participants can add and view comments in PubMed.

For the current pilot testing phase there is a limited facility for joining that may work for you. Several organizations have provided lists of approved author e-mail addresses. If you are included on the list, you can request an invitation to join. Additional options for joining will be provided in future releases.

For additional information, visit the NCBI Insights blog.

NLM Announces Listserv for Outreach to Special Populations!

The National Library of Medicine’s Specialized Information Services (SIS) Division has announced a listserv for Outreach to Specific Populations, NLM_OSP-L. This list provides health information professionals, librarians, advocates, health care professionals, students, and others with an opportunity to share information and discuss outreach to specific populations through quality information, capacity building and community engagement. This discussion forum will enable participants to stay informed about health information resources, services, and programs tailored to specific populations as well as connect with colleagues in the field, and benefit from discussions that address best practices, challenges, and gaps associated with health information outreach to specific populations.

Information distributed through the OSP Listserv (NLM_OSP-L) may include:

  • Health information outreach programs and services tailored to specific populations (i.e. Students/Educators, Health Professionals, Minorities, Women, Seniors, etc.)
  • Information resources addressing health topics ranging from HIV/AIDS and Environmental Health to Emergency and Disaster Preparedness
  • Announcements of funding opportunities
  • National, state and/or local meetings and conferences
  • Information and technological resources for and about specific populations
  • Training opportunities
  • Best practices, trends, and new ideas
  • Publications, articles, and research findings related to health information outreach

Feel free to let others know about the OSP listserv, and to share its messages!

NLM Theater Presentations at MLA 2013

The NLM exhibit booth at the 2013 Annual Meeting of the Medical Library Association in Boston featured theater presentations to bring users up-to-date on several NLM products and services. The presentation recordings are captioned and accessible from the NLM Distance Education Program Resources page. The presentations include:

Note: To listen to the voice recordings and view the captions you may need the latest version of Flash® Player (download for free from the Adobe Web site). To zoom in to detailed screens, use the scroll button. For more information, go to the NLM Technical Bulletin page.

SAMHSA Announces New Disaster Response Template Toolkit!

The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) Disaster Technical Assistance Center (DTAC) has just announced release of the Disaster Response Template Toolkit, a new installment in the Disaster Behavioral Health Information Series. It contains a comprehensive collection of online resources and materials, as well as editable templates that can be easily tailored to meet the needs of any disaster response program.

The Printed Materials section contains customizable public education materials for use by disaster behavioral health response programs to provide outreach, psycho-education, and recovery news for disaster survivors. These materials, geared toward the general public, provide information about common disaster reactions and ways to cope. The Messaging through Other Media section contains tips for writing television, radio, and newspaper public service announcements (PSAs), as well as samples of print and radio PSAs. There are also links and examples of disaster response program websites, social networking pages, and blogs.

Within each section of this toolkit, “do it yourself” templates are provided in various formats, with space provided for each program to incorporate its own logo or contact information. You will find templates for the following products:

  • Brochures for adults, older adults, or children, about common disaster responses and ways of coping;
  • Door hangers with common signs of disaster stress, ways to reduce stress, and common reactions to trigger events, such as the holidays;
  • Editable tip sheets with information on managing stress, coping with disaster anniversaries, and helping children cope with the disaster;
  • Newsletters, wallet cards, and postcards, with broad messaging and room to add your program’s contact information.

It is hoped that the Disaster Response Template Toolkit will be a helpful resource for the disaster response programs in your institution!