Pharmacotherapy on the Web

The Journal of Informed Pharmacotherapy 2000;2:500. 

TheHeart.org, National Guidelines Clearinghouse, Dictionary of Pharmaceutical Medicine, DISCERN Online, Free Medical Journals.com, Therapeutics Initiative, MedErrors.com


JIP Site Evaluation Process
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TheHeart.org, National Guidelines Clearinghouse, Dictionary of Pharmaceutical Medicine, DISCERN Online, Free Medical Journals.com, Therapeutics Initiative, MedErrors.com

Name of site:

TheHeart.org: Cardiology Online

Type of site: Cardiology database
Authoring organization: Eric Topol, MD
Sponsors: Conceptis Technologies Inc & corporate sponsors (banner ads indicate pharmaceutical industry is a source of revene).
Of particular interest to: Cardiologists, interventionalists & clinicians caring for people with disorders of the heart and circulation, and on preventing such disorders.
Completeness Score (/5) 4
Credibility Score (/5) 4.5
Usability Score (/5) 5
Why is it useful? (what will it help me DO?): Allows clinicians to keep up-to-date with daily updates on all aspects of cardiology (newly published trials, conference proceedings, new drug launches etc.)
Commentary: 1. A user-friendly, searchable database to discover what others are thinking regarding recently published trials.
2. Timely debates, insights, commentaries and reviews on controversial trial results from renowned clinicians.
3. Good multi-media education features on topics of current interest.
4. The Forum is useful for viewing, posting or responding to questions (although the possibility for misinformation exists).
All disease states should have a website designed as well as this one!
URL of site: http://www.theheart.org
Reviewed by: Anne Nguyen, Pharm.D.

Name of site:

National Guidelines Clearinghouse

Type of site: Clinical practice guidelines databank
Authoring organization: Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, American Medical Association, American Association of Health Plans
Sponsors: As above.
Of particular interest to: Any clinical practitioner or health policymaker
Completeness Score (/5) 3.5
Credibility Score (/5) 4
Usability Score (/5) 4
Why is it useful? (what will it help me DO?): This site allows users to locate and view clinical guidelines more rapidly than by traditional methods such as literature searching.
Commentary: The National Guideline Clearinghouse is a specialized index of the medical literature pertaining only to clinical practice guidelines. Most of the guidelines on the site have been published in mainstream peer-reviewed journals and have been excerpted by the NGC staff. Fortunately, most of the guidelines are available in their original full-text form (or even PDF form) with graphics and diagrams as well. Guidelines can be browsed in a number of ways, but the most powerful feature is the SEARCH engine which locates keywords and topics across all the guidelines on the site. The database is extensive.

One limitation is that there is a significant delay between publication and indexing by NGC, so users should beware of missing guidelines published within the last year or so and use old-fashioned MEDLINE or PUBMED searching for recent guidelines. Also, I was unable to find a couple of guidelines I know were published in major journals more than a year ago, so it would appear that this site is not completely authoritative in its guideline listings.  Finally, the pitfalls of reliance on guidelines, mainly due to their typical lack of adherence to evidence-based principles (Lancet, Jan. 8, 2000) have been well documented.

URL of site: http://www.guideline.gov
Reviewed by: Peter Loewen, Pharm.D.

Name of site:

Dictionary of Pharmaceutical Medicine

Type of site: Online dictionary of pharmaceutical acronyms and abbreviations.
Authoring organization: Christian Nordqvist (Webmaster), Pharma-Lexicon International, United Kingdom
Sponsors: As above.
Of particular interest to: Any healthcare worker who needs a handy online reference source for this type of information.
Completeness Score (/5) 4.5
Credibility Score (/5) 4
Usability Score (/5) 4.5
Why is it useful? (what will it help me DO?): This is a repository of unique information that is not easily found elsewhere. Where else can you find out what the acronym "NASS" stands for?
Commentary: In addition to functioning as an online acronym/abbreviation reference (the database currently contains 16,000 acronyms), this site also has a good selection of links to sites regarding clinical trials, generic names, companies, hospitals (world and US), wholesalers, colleges, associations, directories, regulatory data, jobs, country profiles, news, health ministries, and journals. The site also has a discussion group and appears to be updated regularly. Check it out.
URL of site: http://www.pharma-lexicon.com/
Reviewed by: Peter Jewesson, Ph.D.

Name of site:

DISCERN Online

Type of site: Evaluation tool for consumer health information
Authoring organization: Deborah Charnock, Sasha Shepperd
Sponsors: NHS Executive Research & Development Programme
Of particular interest to: Patients, Health care providers who make decisions about treatments.
Completeness Score (/5) 5
Credibility Score (/5) 4
Usability Score (/5) 4
Why is it useful? (what will it help me DO?): It is a unique tool to help consumers and clinicians evaluate the quality of information they are presented with.
Commentary: In light of the recent NEJM article (June 1, 2000) which demonstrated that the major media by which consumers learn about treatments generally provide incomplete descriptions of the risks  and benefits of therapy, this online tool seems particularly timely. The final numerical score produced is only partly helpful in enabling consumers and clinicians to decide whether or not to use a treatment. Its usefulness stems mainly from its ability to challenge readers of health information to ask specific questions and gives hints about what constitutes "good" information versus "bad" information and then to quantify their analysis.
URL of site: http://www.discern.org.uk
Reviewed by: Peter Loewen, Pharm.D.

  

Name of site:

Free Medical Journals.com

Type of site: Index of online medical journals
Authoring organization: Bernd Sebastian Kamps, M.D., Ph.D.
Sponsors: Flying Publisher
Of particular interest to: All clinical practitioners and researchers.
Completeness Score (/5) 4.5
Credibility Score (/5) 5
Usability Score (/5) 4
Why is it useful? (what will it help me DO?): It enables rapid access to medical journals which provide free full-text online.
Commentary: Have you ever found an article citation and wondered whether you can get it free online rather than go to the library to photocopy it, or worse, to pay a document delivery service charge? Well, this site is the most up-to-date index of journals which provide free full-text access to their contents online. Several sites attempt to provide such indexes, but none are updated as frequently, index non-English language journals, or log journals which have recently discontinued free online access (e.g. JAMA) as thoroughly as this one. Before you go to the library to photocopy something, check this site to see whether your target journal is listed. Of course, this site is only a directory of journals. What you actually find at the journal's site will vary widely.
URL of site: http://www.freemedicaljournals.com
Reviewed by: Peter Loewen, Pharm.D.

Name of site:

Therapeutics Initiative

Type of site: Evidence-based drug therapy information
Authoring organization: Therapeutics Initiative
Sponsors: University of British Columbia
Of particular interest to: Pharmacotherapy practitioners in all disciplines
Completeness Score (/5) 4
Credibility Score (/5) 4
Usability Score (/5) 3
Why is it useful? (what will it help me DO?): It provides well-written evidence-based reviews of individual drugs or therapy for specific disease states.
Commentary: This site's primary feature is the "Therapeutics Letter" which is available in full-text online. The "Letter" provides concise, evidence-based reviews of specific drugs or diseases which are topical, up-to-date and written by practitioners. The target audience for the Letter is general practitioners and pharmacists. The TI prides itself on it's lack of affiliation with the pharmaceutical industry and this generally translates into a high degree of objectivity about new drugs in the Therapeutics Letter.

The design of the site is not pretty (lots of blinking animated gif's and wallpaper), but links to the information of interest are large and easy to find.

URL of site: http://www.ti.ubc.ca
Reviewed by: Peter Loewen, Pharm.D.

Name of site:

MedErrors.com

Type of site: Specialized site cataloging medication error information
Authoring organization: Bridge Medical, Inc.
Sponsors: Bridge Medical, Inc.
Of particular interest to: Pharmacists and hospital administrators
Completeness Score (/5) 3
Credibility Score (/5) 3
Usability Score (/5) 4
Why is it useful? (what will it help me DO?): Provides a forum for discussion about medication errors within health systems.
Commentary: The sponsor of this site is a consulting company which specializes in helping hospitals reduce medication errors. As such, the credibility of some of the information must be scrutinized. Fortunately, most of the information is directly verifiable from the peer-reviewed literature. Users may find the "Digest" section is particularly useful as is documents experiences of health care providers and the problems and solutions they have encountered in reducing medication errors. The "Library" section is also potentially useful as a database of published literature on medication errors. Overall, this highly specialized site is unique and may be useful for someone trying to characterize and tackle medication error issues within their organization.
URL of site: http://www.mederrors.com
Reviewed by: Peter Loewen, Pharm.D.

Copyright � 2000 by the Journal of Informed Pharmacotherapy. All rights reserved.