The Journal of Informed Pharmacotherapy


(c) 2002 JIP

Readers in March 2002:

Readers in the past year:

Technology in Practice Section (TIPS)

(formerly "Pharmacotherapy on the Web")

The JIP Website Review / Rating System | Online Site Submission Form | Other Suggestions/Comments

“Our Age of Anxiety is, in great part, the result of trying to do today's jobs with yesterday's tools." These words of the distinguished communications theorist Marshall McLuhan were never more true. Today's health practitioners are constantly challenged by the increasing volume of health information, the changing technology skills required, and avoiding both information overload and anxiety. Pharmacotherapy practitioners require a core level of technology competence in order to keep pace with patient needs in today's health systems. A lack of technology skills might lead to anxiety, information overload and suboptimal patient care. 

We are agree with a January 2001 editorial which states that pharmacists have not been at the forefront of integrating available technologies into their practice settings and that there is a “worrisome” technology gap in our profession.(1)   A survey we conducted at our institution in May 2001 indicated that the greatest work-related technology challenge that pharmacists perceived was a lack of skills required to effectively use currently available technology and on-line resources for patient care. The vast majority of the respondents believed that their practice effectiveness would significantly increase if their computer, Internet, and information management skills could be improved.

The purpose of the TIPS is to empower readers with the knowledge required to integrate technology into their practice to improve patient care, research, education and life-long learning effectiveness. The section of the JIP will focus on technologies that are currently available, ubiquitous and can be procured “off-the-shelf” by individuals. The TIPS will expand the scope of the "Pharmacotherapy on the Web" section, which has been part of the JIP since its inception. Web site reviews will expand to include resources that provide content on information management and computer skills.  

We invite readers to guide the subject matter of the TIPS section by submitting questions and topic suggestions. We are interested in hearing about what your technology related challenges are and hope to provide a forum for addressing some of the questions you have. Also, we invite you to submit a description of the innovative solutions that you have developed to meet some of these challenges in your practice setting. 

The TIPS section of the JIP will feature topics such as: 

  • How to use the Internet to help you keep up with the literature and improve your practice
  • How to choose and use a personal digital assistant (PDA) for you practice
  • Critical evaluations of drug and disease information software
  • How to manage and organize your professional resource material
  • How to make your pertinent resources electronically available to you in your practice area
  • Methods for optimizing internet and medical database search strategies
  • Regaining control of your email in-box
  • Forums for reader-initiated information exchange
  • Knowledge management and knowledge sharing in practice

We look forward to your questions and hearing about your day-to-day technology-related challenges. 

Are you a health care professional and know of a useful site for your practice? Submit it to us for review.

The Journal of Informed Pharmacotherapy Website Review / Rating System

The purpose of JIP Web reviews is to answer the following question about the site:

How USEFUL is it to pharmacotherapy practitioners?  (i.e., is it likely to assist clinicians or researchers in making clinical decisions or advancing their skills?)

This is answered by evaluating sites according to the following criteria:

1.  Is the information COMPLETE (i.e., in-depth) enough to meet it’s claimed or perceived objectives? ( /5)

2.  Is the information CREDIBLE (i.e., accurate, unbiased)? ( /5)

a. Is it written/compiled by health care professionals?

i. Are they pharmacotherapy specialists? (i.e., pharmacists, physicians)
ii. If not, it is clear what the credentials of the people are?

  • are they acceptable? (i.e., other health care professional? Medical journalists? laypeople?)

iii. Does the site facilitate contacting the authors of the information if desired?

b. Is the SOURCE(s) of the information clear and reliable?

i. Peer-reviewed research (BEST)
ii. Non-peer-reviewed research
iii. Reports/summaries of above research
iv. Tertiary information databases (e.g.. online textbooks, drug databases, guides to other sites)
v. Expert opinion
vi. Lay-press
vii. Drug company press releases
viii. Non-expert opinion (WORST)

  • If the information is not generated by the maintainers of the site, does it provide direct HTML linkage to the original source of the information?

c. Is the information UP-TO-DATE?

i. Is it clear when all pages were last updated?
ii. Is the frequency of updates appropriate for the type of information?

d. Are the sponsors of the site clearly indicated?

i. If so, is it possible that the information may be biased?

1.evidence-based medicine organizations (BEST)
2.“independent” sites
3.clinical societies/associations
5.industry-maintained (WORST)

ii. If advertising is used on the site, can it be clearly distinguished from the other content on the site?

3. Is the site well-designed (USABILITY)? ( /5)

a. Is it esthetically pleasing?
b. Does it employ generally accepted principles of good web design?

i. Intuitive navigation structure
ii. Bandwidth requirements appropriate for most intended users of the site
iii. Clear links to webmaster/site designers for feedback

c. Does it employ advanced technologies appropriately to better fulfill its purpose? (eg. javascripts, streaming media, active server pages, DHTML)

i. If so, are they easy to use and fully functional?

4. Does the site have a particularly innovative purpose or feature that compensates for any shortcomings identified above?


Name of site:  
Type of site:  
Authoring organization:  
Of particular interest to:  
Why it useful? (what will it help me DO?):  
URL of site:  
Reviewed by:  

For links to sites previously reviewed in this section, plus many more EBM links, go to the LINKS page.

Please direct any inquiries or comments about the Journal to the Publishing Editors.  If you have any recommendations for journal content, we would be pleased to receive your ideas.

Last updated: April 19, 2002