M. Balen, B.Sc.(Pharm), Pharm.D.
Associate Editor, Journal of Informed Pharmacotherapy
J Inform Pharmacother 2002;11:500.
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This is the third and final installment of a multipart series aimed at helping healthcare professionals keep current with the professional literature. Effective use of technology is needed to selectively sort through the thousands of new literature citations that become available on a weekly basis. Part I of the series outlined how an electronic table of contents (eTOC) can be delivered by email directly from the journal publisher. (1) Part II reviewed two additional technology-based publication surveillance strategies. These strategies included the use of the PubMed database Cubby feature and a free online literature alerting service called Allied Journal Club (AJC).(2) This installment will outline 3 strategies (Amedeo®, Medscape® and theheart.org ) for staying current from a "therapeutic topic" perspective rather than from a journal-based perspective. I will also outline a corporate strategy for helping a large number staff members stay current with the literature.
Amedeo® is a free industry-sponsored web-based service aimed at disseminating information concerning the healthcare literature. The service offers a variety of features with a principal component that includes a weekly email containing a bibliographic list of new publications in a particular therapeutic area. Subscribers can select from 24 available therapeutic categories. Examples of these categories are infectious diseases, disorders of the respiratory system, disorders of the kidney, immunology, intensive care and women's health. Many of the disease categories have more specific subcategories. For example, the disorders of the kidney group contains "chronic renal failure" and "kidney transplantation" as more specific subcategories. A complete list of categories and subcategories is available on the Amedeo® home page at www.amedeo.com.
Amedeo® subscribers have the option to select from any of the clinical topics presented and then delineate the journals that they wish to monitor for content relevant to the selected clinical area. For example, clicking on the Critical and Intensive Care link presents users with a recommended set of journals to be monitored. Users can add to the list by checking the appropriate box. (Figure 1) Subscribing to the Amedeo® service requires submitting an email address and providing demographic information on a form at the bottom of any therapeutic category and journal selection page.
The Amedeo® service differs from the previously described electronic table of contents (eTOC) strategy. (1) While the eTOC strategy delivers the entire eTOC from selected journals to the subscriber by email, Amedeo® delivers an email containing a link to the subscribers "personal Amedeo® web page." (Figure 2) The "personal Amedeo® web page" contains a link to a web page that can display relevant articles from a therapeutic categories and journals chosen by the subscriber. An option to display or save all available or selected abstracts is provided. (Figure 3) Selecting the "All available abstracts" option presents the abstracts from the PubMed database. (Figure 4) Amedeo® is an effective way to automate scanning a large selection of journals for citations relevant to one or several therapeutic topic areas defined by the subscriber.
Figure 1. Amedeo Journal List for Critical and Intensive Care. Subscribers Can Select Journals To Be Monitored.
Last update: 04.10.2002
Crit Care Clin (20)
Figure 2. Amedeo® Email Alert
Figure 3. Personal Amedeo® Web Page
Figure 4. Example Amedeo Abstracts PubMed Link From The Amedeo Personal Web Page
Medscape® is a free Internet medical information hub that provides access to a variety of information resources. The website offers a MedPulse® service which is an index of news and features from the Medscape® specialty pages. These specialty pages are organized by clinical areas such as cardiology, critical care, pharmacotherapy and internal medicine. A complete list of Medscape® specialty sites are available at http://www.medscape.com/pages/homepages/index-homepages . Subscribers can opt to receive a weekly email newsletter outlining news, clinical advances, and some literature citations relevant to chosen clinical areas. (Figure 5) An example of a Critical Care Specialty MedPulse® is provided in Appendix 1.
Figure 5. Medscape® Email Newsletter Management Options.
For cardiology specific news, literature citations and clinical topic commentaries, healthcare professionals can subscribe to theheart.org. Upon registering for access to the website features users are provided with an option to receive theheart.org weekly newsletter by email. The email typically summarizes key findings and provides commentary on the results of recent clinical trials in cardiology. An example segment of a theheart.org weekly newsletter is provided in Appendix 2.
A variety of strategies that are available for using email and the Internet to keep up with professional literature were outlined above and in the first two parts of this series. (1,2) Differing computer and Internet skill levels are required to take advantage of one or a combination of these strategies. The pharmacy department at my institution has taken another approach to helping staff stay current with the literature.
We have a team of 106 full and part-time pharmacists across three sites. All staff members are email enabled. Although, the computer and Internet skill sets vary widely in our department, email use is prevalent and is not noted to be a barrier. In order to help ensure that all staff members are alerted to new literature we have adopted a strategy where one designated person (currently a clinical secretary) collates all of the new literature citations from 8 core journals. The journals were selected based on their likelihood of containing content that would be of interest to pharmacists practicing in a variety of clinical areas and would not be limited to specialty interests. The journal contents are collected using the eTOC feature where available (6 journals) and the AJC alerting service for the 2 remaining journals.
A department-wide email is distributed twice monthly to all pharmacists. The email contains the table of contents from 8 journals, web addresses to an additional 3 journals and hyperlinks to any available online content. In addition, a short preamble highlighting the content sources, recommended featured articles and instructions for full text online access are provided where applicable. (Appendix 3) The email can be browsed or key word searched using the searching features within the email software. A multi-journal collated eTOC distributed on a department-wide basis is an efficient way to ensure that all pharmacist staff members have an equal and timely opportunity to keep up with new literature citations.
Staying current with the health sciences literature can be challenging. Advances in information technology can make the surveillance of health science publications convenient and manageable. Journal-based strategies to keep current include subscribing to the eTOC service that some journal publishers provide; using web-based literature notification services such as AJC and the advanced searching features of the PubMed database. Strategies to keep up to date with clinical topics are also available. These include subscribing to the Amedeo® medical literature guide and or the MedPulse® newsletter from Medscape®. Additionally, theheart.org newsletter can aid in keeping readers current with cardiology specific content. One or more of these strategies can be combined to either meet individual clinician information needs or contribute to a departmental strategy for helping a large number of staff members keep up to date with new literature.
1 - Example MedPulse® Critical Care Email From Medscape® (click to view)
Appendix 2 - Example Weekly Newsletter From theheart.org (click to view)
Appendix 3 - Example Corporate Multi-Journal Cummulative eTOC (click to view)
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