Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Health Sciences Online

A colleague today asked my opinion of the new Health Sciences Online resource. As I'd never heard of it I took a look.

It claims to be "the first website to deliver authoritative, comprehensive, free, and ad-free health sciences knowledge", however I've worked on several projects making that claim over the last few years...

HSO launched in September 2008 as a virtual learning center with browse and search functions covering top-quality courses and references (over 50,000 at present) in medicine, public health, pharmacy, dentistry, nursing, basic sciences, and other health sciences disciplines. It is supported by the Canadian and British Columbian governments, the World Health Organization, NATO’s Science for Peace Program, the Annenberg Physician Training Program, and the Ulrich and Ruth Frank Foundation for International Health. The founding collaborators include CDC, World Bank, the American College of Preventive Medicine, and the University of British Columbia.

Although it is more international in scope (and probably has more money), the approach of making high quality relevant resources easy to find on a browsable and searchable web site was the one we used in the OMNI and NMAP projects for UK higher education nearly ten years ago. OMNI and NMAP now form part of the Intute service and similar functionality and resources can be found in parts of the UK NHS's National Library for Health.

What I can't see in HSO, and were important aspects of NMAP and OMNI, was a clear public statement about the selection criteria being used for the inclusion of resources - I have asked HSO about this, but have not received a response yet. I've also asked about the way in which the resources are displayed and whether there are particular biases eg towards US materials - it will be interesting to see what they say.

It will be interesting to see how the HSO service develops and whether we will see increasing synergy or competition between the various sites providing these sorts of services. I also wonder, as the World Health Organisation is one of the supporters, whether this is seen as being a step along the road to a controlled .health top level domain on the world wide web.

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Monday, January 28, 2008


The latest issues ( Volume 61, Number 1, February 2008) of Health Information on the Internet (HIOTI) has just been published. It includes:

TI: Personal health records
AU: Childs, Sue

TI: Building an accreditation scheme for health and social care information
AU: Reid, Graham

TI: The Information Accreditation Scheme Standard
AU: Reid, Graham

TI: Pharmacy
AU: Blenkinsopp, John

TI: View from the frontline: Blogging
AU: Brown, Harry

TI: Current literature
AU: Waddington, Marina

TI: What's new?
AU: Williamson, Laurian

Some of the papers look quite interesting.

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Saturday, June 30, 2007

Google advisory group on health

Google's official blog carried an announcement a few days ago New advisory group on health. It is unclear exactly what the role of this group will be , although there is speculation they will be developing an application for patients to store their medical information online. However the mission of the "Google Health Advisory Council" is stated to be "to help us better understand the problems consumers and providers face every day and offer feedback on product ideas and development".

The selection of individuals to participate has caused some concern by omitting certain types of professionals, such as nurses and medical librarians, and I can only see one patient representative (although I don't know all the individuals or the organisations they are affiliated to.

I am also worried the the "Council" appears to be dominated bu those from North America - when Google's reach is global.

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Tuesday, April 24, 2007

He@lth Information on the Internet 56(1), April 2007

The latest edition of He@lth Information on the Internet 56(1), April 2007 has just been published and includes some interesting artciles:

Social networking in the health context
Childs, Sue

Online communities for healthcare professionals: when hype meets reality
Sandars, John

Medical Journals Back-files Project
Kiley, Robert

Bookmarks: Infection control
Blenkinsopp, John

Getting Web developers to wear sensible shoes: working with developers to create online user services
Robalino, Shannon

View from the front line: Beyond the PDA
Brown, Harry

Current literature
Waddington, Marina

What's new?
Williamson, Laurian

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Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Health websites need personal testimonies

The BBC News is today reporting an ESRC funded study by Northumbria University under the heading 'Personal' health websites sought, which found "People searching online for health advice often reject sites giving high quality information in favour of those with a human touch".

The findings showed users did not like adverts & didn't trust drug company web sites, but looked for those with personal stories to which the reader could relate.