Update on NHS Evidence plus a Scottish prequel?

In Evidence-Based Medicine, Information industry, Web 2.0 & all that on February 4, 2009 by Alan Lovell Tagged: , , , ,

I was just catching up with comments on our blog (thanks to everyone who has!) and I see that Alan Fricker (who has his own KM blog here) has helpfully pointed out that:

“In terms of NHS Evidence it is now known that they will be building their search tool on a Fast Search enterprise engine. You can see what this can do up in Scotland where they are in the process of using one. ( is one of a number of portals they have already created.”

Fast Search is an enterprise search technology bought by MS a while back for $1.2 billion, so they obviously think it’s going somewhere (though blog reports suggest that its CEO may be a fraud!!). Anyway, I tried to use the Clinical Decisions tool but didn’t seem to be able to, presumably because I’m not an NHS/Athens user. But anyway, you can see what ‘reliable’ sources it searches here. If you’re able to, give it a whirl, it may be a ‘Scottish NHS Evidence’ (but hopefully not quite so expensive…)

And while I’m here, three new things I learnt about the NHS from a slideshow I’ve just stumbled across by Prof Peter Hill at the Kings Fund are:

1) NHS Evidence will sort, sift and prioritise information according to user needs (it’s intelligent)

2) NHS Evidence will be built around a powerful search engine which will access content from across the different sources – the ability of this search engine to identify the most relevant content will improve over time as the search algorithm improves (i.e. as the system ‘learns’) and as the taxonomy used by the various sources becomes more consistent (it learns)

3) It is envisaged that NHS Evidence will provide the ‘driving force’ to implement a standard taxonomy across information providers (it’s the future!)

Aren’t we all looking forward to it? (actually, to be honest, I am – though with a certain amount of scepticism!)


One Response to “Update on NHS Evidence plus a Scottish prequel?”

  1. Ah – this explains how Danielle came to be wandering the KM blog. I must say that it was really a reading exercise that leaked into the wild rather than a concerted effort to set up a KM blog.

    I am surprised you couldn’t get into the Scottish system. I did not log in at all and it still gave me some results. Maybe it picked up my NHS Net IP address?

    In terms of your points

    1) NHS Evidence is of course not just a machine – human librarian type people will be telling it what to index. The model in Scotland seems to be portals tailored to particular user groups so a selection of resources from a wider collection could be made accordingly.

    2) “The NHS Evidence Funding Bill is passed. The system goes on-line 30 April 2009. Human decisions are removed from information retrieval. NHS Evidence begins to learn at a geometric rate. It becomes self-aware at 2:14 a.m. GMT 5 May 2009. In a panic, the librarians try to pull the plug.” (With apologies to T2 Judgement Day). I think it will learn to the extent that those human librarian type people spot the worst of the results and act to correct them. Perhaps the publishers also will move to work with it. I wonder if could end up with NHS Evidence Search Optimisers gaming the system to promote results about certain drugs?

    3) Ambitious!

    I am looking forward to it.

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