Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category


(the) health informaticist – here yesterday gone today

In Uncategorized on April 9, 2014 by Alan Lovell

We’ve been rather naughty. Today it is April 2014, and our last post was in January 2012. To the more observant of our, err, regular readers, it has been apparent for some time that we are no longer, err, regular.

It’s been fun. 352 posts, 471 comments (some of which weren’t by the authors). We’ve had about 50,000 views, 6 of which occured today from Tunisia. Our top ten posts were:

  1. Guides on how to develop integrated care pathways (6,686 views)
  2. What’s an informaticist? (1,826 views)
  3. Google Chrome (979 views)
  4. Difference between quality of life & standard of living (716 views)
  5. Rate your doctor (666 views)
  6. Boots teams up to Web MD to provide patient info (640 views)
  7. Google Street View and the threat to our privacy (490 views)
  8. Pharm line database now open access and DH stop smoking app (473 views)
  9. An example of cloud computing: Tim (448 views)
  10. NICE’s plans for the specialist collections (448 views)

But, you know, other interests and new-fangled social media get in the way and take up our time and before you know it two years have passed and you’ve not posted anything. So we have decided to say a rather belated cheerio from the four of us. You can find Alan F at his new blog Evidently & @alanfricker, while Danielle is also tweeting @danni4info. Hanna and Alan L aren’t really social media-ing these days, though, as Justin Bieber says, never say never.

And that is that. Thanks for reading.



LinkedIn and CILIP Communities et al

In Uncategorized on July 22, 2011 by africker

Thing 6 is all about professional online networks (though we have dealt with them a little already).

The main interest for me in this Thing is LinkedIn.  I signed up without ever being fully convinced of how I would use it.  My profile is fairly skeleton at present (jobs, degrees, MCLIP) and I probably should add some detail.  I have more than few groups – I’ll come back to this.

Over time I have connected with a fair few folk – this seems to go in bursts – both in terms of invitations sent and received.  I got into the habit of asking people I connected with what value they were finding in LinkedIn – not a single person ever came up with a good reason to be there.

What I have been interested in is the way that the CILIP on LinkedIn seems to have started to come to life.  This seems to be in marked contrast to CILIP Communities.  I get regular emails updating me on various discussions in the group and some of these draw many comments.  I wonder if the LinkedIn group could supercede the CILIP Communities Forum?  It has the advantage of convenience (apart from for IE6 people) and neatly links to peoples rich professional profiles.  It would be interesting to see how CILIP could build on this participation.

I wonder also if LinkedIn could support something to officially badge people that are currently Chartered / a Fellow or whatever (particularly if we made recorded CPD a requirement of ongoing Chartered status) .  In this way employers checking us out before interview would have that marker of professional commitment.  It would also knock out those who use the letters but should no longer do so.


Stylist magazine on complementary and alternative medicine

In Uncategorized on July 7, 2011 by Danielle Tagged: , ,

Thank you to a friend for pointing out this by turns arrogant and naive article (which I couldn’t find on the Stylist website), focused on how we have all given up on medicine and are seeking solace in woo. What irks me the most is the suggestion that all women are “wired to the right side of their brain” so are creative, emotional types drawn to hokum treatments. How ridiculous and clearly untrue.

According to this article, “acupuncture, osteopathy, homeopathy, chiropractice and herbal medicine” are supported by scientific evidence. Is this news to you? Because they actually aren’t supported by any real evidence, except to say in some cases there may be a placebo effect. So you could actually be doing more good by prescribing someone a sugar pill, a glass of water or cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) if, as the author says, they go to acupuncture in order to talk to someone for an hour and a half.

Why do people believe any of it? Because, as my friend said, “people are stupid.”


Alan Moore knows the score on Thing 4

In CPD23,Uncategorized on July 5, 2011 by africker Tagged: , , , , , , , ,

An excellent outing last night to the British Library for the latest talk accompanying the Out of this world exhibition.  A nice illustration of the benefits of CPD – I was looking around the BL site for upcoming events for the CILIP in London Google Calendar of interesting stuff in London (fancy contributing? get in touch) just when they were adding the events listing.  The result was myself and a mate were in a packed crowd for Alan Moore in conversation with Stewart Lee.  I suspect tickets would not have come my way if I had heard about it through slower channels.

It was a fascinating discussion ranging across scifi, science, religion, technology, genre, labels and who can remember what else.

There were demonstrations of IP red in tooth and claw – for example why some comic books are movies and others are not.  And how clashes over IP have impacted on the quality of writing in comics.  Alan Moore apparently gets no money from the sale of V for Vendetta Merchandise – but does get an enormous sense of personal well being from seeing them at demonstrations around the world (DC less so – apparently we won’t be getting any more V movies as a result).

Moore takes an interesting position on technology being extremely interested and reading widely about it but largely refusing to adopt it.  He no longer has a television since they dropped the analog signal in Northampton, refuses to have a mobile and has no email address.

There was a fab quote from Stewart Lee “what is twitter if not voluntary surveillance” that gave me a wry chuckle thinking of all the people who might be signing up for CPD23 over this week.  I originally joined Twitter as part of my involvement in the CILIP Defining our Professional Future exercise so I must be slightly past my one year of involvement.  I do find it useful (as well as entertaining) but access at work is limited which prevents me integrating it into the flow of my day in the way I might like.  I recently signed up for TweetyMail that has helped with some of the link sharing issues caused by using Twitter predominantly via Snaptu.

RSS is not a new thing for me.  I had a long love affair with Bloglines that I used for a good six years and I have commented already about my current RSS consumption.

I was surprised to find that I was able to get Pushnote installed on my work computer.  I say installed as I am struggling to decide if it is working or not.  I follow a fair few people on Twitter but there is little sign of them being involved in this and I cannot really see the point.  I do not seem to be alone in this based on peoples tweets.  Maybe a use will become apparent.

You can find some other Alan Moore & Stewart Lee footage on the web.  At the time of writing there a still tickets available for R.U.R. on the 6th of July – it has been a brilliant series of events.


Search strategy reporting and clarity

In Uncategorized on June 30, 2011 by Danielle Tagged: , ,

In a recent search of PubMed I was surprised to see a chastening letter by Nakao and colleagues published in the Archives of Internal Medicine that criticised a 2010 meta-analysis by Sciarretta et al on antihypertensive treatment and development of heart failure in hypertension published in the same journal. Althought the paper in question searched PubMed and Embase as well as checking the references of a 2009 meta-analysis, it did not publish the search strategy. Even worse, it appears to have missed significant and recent studies (e.g. the CASE-J trial, the Kyoto Heart study and the HIJ-CREATE study) that it ought to have included.

While I haven’t investigated this for myself, it is interesting to see a complaint about search strategies not being published. This is a brick wall where there should be transparency. Perhaps researchers and publishers need to overcome their reluctance to print what may look like gibberish (diab$ adj3 oedema?.ti,ab anyone?) to some.  Or perhaps many researchers still don’t even see a lack of explicit search strategy as a problem. A study selection algorithm is great, but it is no replacement for a proper foundation to this calibre of research.


CILIP Update with Gazette, April 2011

In CILIP,Uncategorized on April 19, 2011 by Danielle Tagged: , , , , ,

A crisp new copy of Cilip Update with Gazette (the two publications merged a couple months ago in case you’ve been on sabbatical) hit the newstand this week and an interesting welcome message from Elspeth Hyams.

A flip through brings us an update on ebook borrowing practices (don’t buy it unless someone wants to borrow it, according to one model), more from the front lines of Save our Libraries and, something I can agree with (but generally)- the need for more quantitative research in higher education environments. And everywhere else.

The Best Headline award goes to Matthew Mezey for ‘It’s like putting an AK47 into the hands of a moody teenager’, reporting from the front lines of a Guardian conference on sharing public data. Share by any means (lol) but please not on PDF, and keep it simple (sweetheart) were some wise words. Well, I’m glad that public opinion has finally seen the light, but what about our dependence on PDFs?

I’m glad also to see Tupe (Transfer of undertakings (Protection of employment)) regulations explained in a feature on employment law.

At the end you’ll find the job adverts previously found in Gazette (but very at home in UwG I think) and tips on how to reinvent yourself in the job market by Francis Muzzu.

Enjoy your online or paper copy (or join Cilip if you haven’t already).


Open access week and open scholarship

In Uncategorized on October 20, 2010 by Hanna

This week is Open Access Week. I successfully plugged this in a staff newsletter and my communications colleague said ‘but what is it?’ According to Jennifer McLennan on the Open Access Week ning site:

“Open Access” to information – the free, immediate, online access to the results of scholarly research, and the right to use and re-use those results as you need – has the power to transform the way research and scientific inquiry are conducted. It has direct and widespread implications for academia, medicine, science, industry, and for society as a whole. 

And from JISC who are working on an open bibliography project to unlock British Library data:

Opening the knowledge base to all means more researchers can build on it and there is less duplication of effort. Researchers can reach a greater audience and find that their work is more widely read and cited, institutions gain an enhanced reputation as their research becomes more visible, funding agencies see a greater return on their investment, and publishers find that the impact of their journals increases.

So for me it would be not buying journals but encouraging staff to put in funding bids to pay publishers to make articles open access or self publishing and/or placing articles in an institutional repository. My role would be to facilitate access to these resources but hopefully they would be a lot easier for people to find for themselves. Reading Peter Murray Rust and it becomes clear that open access journals and even data are just the tip of the ice-berg. Open Scholarship is open bibliography (opening up metadata) and the democratising of knowledge:

any kind of information – sonnets to statistics, genes to geodata – that can be freely used, reused, and redistributed (Open Knowledge Foundation)

The Open Knowledge Definition is a project that defines the principles that make knowledge open in relation to data and content and there is a separate one for software. Eleven principles to quibble…but as Peter Murray Rust says it’s asserting what should be in the public domain: facts not subjective analysis or creative opinion.

It’s good to know some libraries are engaging with this: the University of Sussex has a series of seminars for researchers and the LSE is highlighting it’s institutional repository and is awarding prizes to academics who have made a significant contribution to open access at the university.


Personalised health meets online health

In Uncategorized on October 14, 2010 by Hanna

The Nuffield Council on Bioethics report Personalised Healthcare: Medical profiling and online medicine: the ethics of ‘personalised healthcare’ in a consumer age looked at a range of issues that arise from personalised medicines from buying drugs on the internet, electronic healthcare records and accessing and sharing health information online. One of the big issues is of course the reliability or accuracy or stability of a source of information. The full report goes through the different information accreditation standards: so Honcode and the Information Standard that the DH launched in 2009 and also some I hadn’t heard of before: URAC (the Utilization Review Accreditation Committee) which is US based and seems to work on the quality of healthplans, Discern which is a questionnaire tool for assessing consumer information, MedCIRCLE (The Collaboration for Internet Rating, Certification, Labeling and Evaluation of Health Information) which is pan-European and Medieq which is funded by the European Commission.

I can’t help thinking that even ignoring the fact that lots of people are trying to do the same thing thus duplicating efforts that such schemes are bound to fail as they are voluntary and the nature of the internet is such that it would not be desirable for government to intervene. But the Nuffield Council’s website headlines with the ‘Government should do more’. Possibly other areas such as drug sales online which are indeed strictly regulated offline.

There was no mention of the potential role of information professionals even though I know some people working behind the scenes in patient information ensuring accuracy and accessibility to high quality information. Of course we go beyond the library, this quote amused: “The speed at which an enormous variety of information (well beyond what even the most lavish libraries once contained) may be accessed through targeted, consumer-initiated use of search facilities is far beyond what was previously available.” So where does that leave us? An interesting theme brought out in the document (but horrid to pronounce) is ‘responsibilism’ or “social and policy pressures for a shift in the balance of responsibility between individuals on the one hand and collective bodies and professionals on the other hand”…which I read to be people taking more responsibility for doing the critical assessment of information they find and having the knowledge and skills to do this. The report talks about the digital divide and the consumer pressure to push out healthcare services using online means so whilst some people speed ahead and adopt the internet as healthcare delivery driver others are catching up.


Google instant and search confidence

In search engines,Uncategorized on September 29, 2010 by Danielle Tagged: , ,

This post is an excuse to give props to a lovely, visual analysis of Google Instant and its early impact on how people search. The author found that nine out of the eleven sites analysed had increases in usage of 6-7+ word terms. The data bore this out- there were decreases in shorter, 2-3 word search phrases.

Does having several similar phrases flash up as soon as you enter text into Google (the purpose of Google Instant) act as a prompt or encouragement to lengthen your search phrase? I think it does, simply for the reason that I find it comforting to know that a series of word exists as a bona fide phrase and that I’m not typing in a bunch of gibberish (which does occasionally happen). I bet some people find it annoying and will plead with Google to give us an option to turn it off. Seriously- if it starts to maybe seem a bit irritating at this point (which it does to me), it will be agony after a few months. I realise it can’t be avoided by using the search bar embedded in Safari at least…

Speaking of presumed pleading- Gmail now gives us the option to not show emails as threads. Good news for some, but I’ve gotten used to it.


Personal brand. I hate to say it, but it’s important

In Continuing Education,social networking,Uncategorized,Web 2.0 & all that on September 21, 2010 by Alan Lovell Tagged: , , , , , , , , ,

I’ve always disliked the term “personal branding”; it sounds, well, very impersonal, really. Makes me think of the Prisoner: “I am not a number, I am a free man” and all that kind of nonsense.  Heavens, people have charisma, personality, charm…, not branding! No, I’d decided, nothing to do with me, thanks.

But then I read somewhere, and I really can’t remember where (isn’t that terribly rude, not to link to your sources? Oh well) that it’s useful to think of your brand not in terms of what cut of suit you like to wear, or scent you care to sport, but rather as what comes up when someone puts your name into Google (I should point out here that “other search engines are available”). Now I’m sorry to say that if you put my name into Google I don’t even make it onto the front page of results. Oh dear. I do though have a couple of entries in results 11 to 20. My Linked in profile comes up, which I’m quite chuffed about as I only put it in recently, as does my Bazian (my company) bio. If you put in me + health or me + bazian then you get more hits about me (as opposed to Alan Lovell the actor, or the CEO of Jarvis etc), and I have to admit that I’m relieved that my Twitter page rarely pops up, as that’s pretty pathetic really (I should either start tweeting properly, lock it, or delete it).

But it has made me think. If at work or indeed in my personal life I come across a new person that I might have some interest in, the first thing I do is Google them. And I think nowadays we all do this – it’s second nature. While it may be argued by some that we don’t really have much control over what comes up about us in Google (or Ask, Bing, Yahoo etc) I think that on the contrary we do – we can do search engine optimization of our own pages, e.g. on Linked In or perhaps on our institution’s site, or we can start our own blog or a static webpage with a personal/professional statement as necessary. We might not like it, but for many people in our professional life their first contact with us will be through a computer screen, and not in real life; and as we all know, first impressions count.

So I still might not like the term “personal brand”, but I do think we have to acknowledge that our “online” self is important, both personally and, particularly, professionally. My online self is not the same as me, therefore terms such as “charisma” or “personality” won’t cut the mustard. For example, next time I go for a job, the interviewers are bound to Google me. I need to take control of the information they’ll find about me. You’ll need to do the same.