Notes & Links: August15, 2013

Retrieving Clinical Evidence: A Comparison of PubMed and Google Scholar for Quick Clinical Searches

Shariff, Math, et. al. publishing in JMIR compares the performance of PubMed vs. Google Scholar. It was a well designed study and the data was interesting to the point that Google Scholar may be my go to search, well quick search. To bad it has the word Google in it with all the associated tracking and saving of your personal data. It’s good know another search tool works well in healthcare. 

Compared with PubMed, the average search in Google Scholar retrieved twice as many relevant articles (PubMed: 11%; Google Scholar: 22%;P<.001). Precision was similar in both databases (PubMed: 6%; Google Scholar: 8%; P=.07). Google Scholar provided significantly greater access to free full-text publications (PubMed: 5%; Google Scholar: 14%; P<.001).

Our findings are consistent with those of previous studies [12,14,15,20,21]. In preliminary testing within targeted areas of respiratory care, sarcoma, pharmacotherapy, and family medicine, Google Scholar provided better comprehensiveness (recall) but worse efficiency (precision) compared with PubMed. Similar results were seen in our study when we considered all records that were retrieved and not just the first 40. However, previous studies tested only a small number of searches (range: 1-22), compared with the 100 searches in the current study. In addition, the search queries used in previous studies were created and tested by researchers in idealized settings, which may not generalize as well to searches generated by physicians in busy clinical settings

Practicing Medicine and Practicing Social Media

Mark Senak writing on Eye on FDA revisits and interview a physician Ph.D. he met in 2010 Bertaln Mesko, MD, PhD who is a medical futurist. The links from the post above to the various sites of Dr. Bertain are nothing short of a rich rich vein of knowledge that we can all use as references or just link to now and then for newbies to learn from. Take a look at Eye on FDA page and just to all the links provided. 

Here is an section from that interview:

While social media use among those in medical practice is growing, there are a lot of concerns on the part of practitioners that range from potential lapses of privacy to concerns about the return on investment.  How would you characterize the “risk-benefit” ratio of social media use by physicians?

I think there aren’t many essential differences between real-life and online communication.  I teach my students they should behave online just like they do in the offline world.  Therefore, social media can only make processes faster and more interactive, although if your offline communication as a doctor is bad, it’s going to be the same on any social media platforms as well.

There are risks, obviously, but if you know the limitations and potential problems related to the active use of social media, you know what you can do and what you should never do online.  That was the basic concept behind writing this handbook so then medical professionals worldwide would get a clear picture about the online channels and ways of communication.

Teaching tricks and rules about the Internet should get a huge emphasis in medical school, but it doesn’t get that kind of attention.  This is why I thought there is a niche for such a handbook which includes step-by-step instructions and tutorials focusing on all the major social media channels.

Lack of Information Synthesis: One of the Most Important Causes of Medical Errors

Val Jones, MD writing on Health Policy and picked up by Better Health makes a great case on ways to reduce errors slow down and listen. Here are his three recommendations: 

The solution to the healthcare cost crisis is not to increase the speed of the assembly line belt when our physicians and nurses are already dropping items on the floor. First, stop asking them to step away from the belt to do other things. Second, put a cap on belt speed. Third, insure that you have sufficient staff to handle the volume of “product” on the belt, and support them with post-belt packaging and procedures that will prevent back up. 

Now can we use this idea and help patients improve their ability to uptake, understand, and use data/information and turn it into healthcare knowledge? Perhaps if we slow the belt down and allow the HCP to engage and pay for engagement we can drive improved outcomes. 

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