Posts Tagged ‘NHS Evidence’


Top alerting services for monitoring drug developments and other things

In Eresources,How to work better,Information industry on October 5, 2010 by Hanna Tagged: , , , ,

We had a discussion at work recently about how we should keep up to date with drug topics we monitor. We do this to see what is happening with licensing in this country and/or in the US/Europe and then we might also be tracking disease areas also for other types of work. So what to use? We previously gave the drug topic monitoring job to one person in the team who would scan choice journals and send photocopies of the results but these were often out of date and this is an onerous job for one person remembering perhaps 10s or 100s of topic indications. We narrowed down the following to some essentials and others as optional but I would be interested to know what sources other people use.

  1. NeLM or National Electronic Library of Medicine. A “‘one stop’ platform from which users can easily find medicines information that matters in a simple and coherent manner”. Daily email alert delivered as headlines and often includes commentary and links to original sources. Pretty much our gold standard. Takes info from a range of sources: UK medicines information (UKMi), National Prescribing Centre and Medicines Compendium online to name but a few.
  2. PharmaTimes. This is on our core list as well although I have to admit I don’t use it, I think there was something weird about their sign up and it didn’t want to sign me up argh. We purchase some similar titles and this is all about e-TOCs.
  3. New drugs online. Produced by UKMi and ingested by NHS Evidence as well, NHS registered people can access more info than publically accessible too. Excellent for news and reporting of trials/regulatory stuff for new drugs. Example for lorcaserin for obesity.
  4. Medical News Today. US based although however news is captured it is truely worldwide. Sources include “JAMA, BMJ, Lancet, BMA, plus articles written by our own team”. Categorised into sections covering major disease areas these daily alerts are very comprehensive.
  5. US again but good for FDA alerts that may influence European/National decisions. Probably more generalist/consumer level information
  6. Pharmalot. Blog from which you can receive alerts along the lines of investigative journalism and debate about pharmaceutical companies and drug development in general. Or “commentary on the pharmaceutical industry and related litigation.” The backstory of what makes the news later e.g. rosiglitazone.
  7. And other things: NHS Institute alerts (mainly implementation and while we’re on that see Implementation Science journal), the CASH database which aimed to be the national current awareness service although is reportedly biased towards whoever is updating it weekly and more traditional alerts from saved searches and e-TOCs galore.

How you manage these is up to you. I can’t help but scan them almost daily but do searches of the folder I bung them in in my inbox on a monthly basis…


HLG Conference 2010 – take 2 day 1

In HLG 2010,Uncategorized on July 27, 2010 by africker Tagged: , , , ,

Keeping information centre stage amid changing scenery was the overarching theme for HLG conference last week (see also this from my tHI colleague).  As ever it was a packed couple of days so I am trying to record a few thoughts now before it all gets lost in the day job.  I did tweet at the time but found it very challenging to convey much while also giving concentration to the speaker.  Would have been easier on a laptop rather than on my only moderately smartish phone I suspect. 

Please note I am going to link the presentations where I can – files may be large!  You can find nearly all of them here.

Having been in Suffolk till late the evening before the trip to Salford was challenging.  I arrived just before the opening key Note by Dr Gillian Leng, (COO for NHS Evidence and NICE Deputy CEO).  Her presentation focussed on the wider remit of NICE with relatively little on NHS Evidence.  It was pretty clear that NICE have some significant challenges to deliver the Standards documents that they have been tasked to produced by the White Paper.  Work around Information Pathways looked worth following but raised questions for me over how it would link with Map of Medicine (the technology from which appeared to support it – at least from my distant vision of the slide).  I am sure I was not alone in being disappointed about the absence of reference to how NHS Evidence might better work with the wider NHS knowledge structures.

After a gulped cup of coffee and under a barrage of high volume tannoy announcements (that made an interesting chat with Athens some what difficult)  I headed for the first parallel session.

First up was Kath Wright on the new CRD interface .  It was interesting to get a better picture of their work.  I do not tend to use the native interface for CRD so it is hard to comment on the revised functionality.

Andrew Regan & Emma Shaw told us about how Imperial support online access for NHS staff .   A good example of how options in terms of IT enabled support can be opened up for those bridging the NHS and HE.  A recurring theme at the conference was the workarounds libraries are setting in place due to IT constraints.  In this case you got a feeling of real progress in tackling issues to improve the user experience.

Last up in this session was Richard Parker on implementing RFID .  This was a really valuable talk in terms of covering some of the pitfalls.  It is all too easy to get caught up in the possibilities of such technologies. 

Lunch was good (though sadly sans pudding!) and filled with a quick round of catchups.  A rapid dash through the slightly confusing Lowry building saw me end up back in Parallel Session A around IT rather than one I had planned to attend on IT Literacy. 

In the event I was very glad of my mistake as I caught a great talk from Caroline Storer and colleagues on Collaborative approaches being taken in the Bradford area .  I was particularly interested in the toolkit for Evidence Based Practice.  My heart sank when I saw it was a paper folder (online available though I couldn’t find it in time available today!) but it turns out this was a cunning plan to meet the users and set up what amounts to Hill Report style Team Knowledge Officers.  I also liked there Special Interest Group model – a new way to think about journal clubs (see also the great talk on IMPACTe elsewhere at conference).

After an update on CASH we heard from Katherine Dumenil and Linda Jump about their Knowledge Updating Service .  This is a very slick take on the current awareness portal – ingesting and tagging large numbers of feeds and sites and then presenting it in a flexible form via web, rss and email.  It looked a nice bit of development.  Questions on technical matters where somewhat deflected by the speakers which was a shame.  

A brief break for exhibitors, posters and a donut was much appreciated before the final round of parallel sessions for day 1.  I followed the Collaboration strand.

Gwen Giles and David Law spoke about how they are working together in the Midlands as BASE .  Of particular interest to listeners was how they used external support to make them a more effective network.  Linking together around a shared LMS project was also clearly useful in providing a real must do set of tasks.

Carolyn Smith updated on progress in Scotland .  They are somewhat ahead on implementing the Fast Search technology that underpins the google style NHS Evidence search.  Items of note – support from librarians is integrated into the interface presentation, tools for collaboration are offered, it is Athens integrated.  Question marks for me about the effectiveness of offering access to the bibliographic databases via the Fast Search interface (native interface also available).

The day closed with three plenary talks.  I missed the start of the first one and admit to not getting to grips with it.  Sara Clarke and Zoe Thomas then spoke on what they called the Legitimate Peripheral Participation model for developing professional competence.  It sounded an awful lot like induction to me.  In question was whether an academic qualification prepares people or not for their first role in health.  Peoples experience of “Library School” vary enormously and I think it will always work better for some than others depending on choices made and options offered.  Last in this session was a fascinating talk by Andrew Booth on whether there is evidence for the value of an experienced librarian over a novice.  We need to focus on the things we do beyond just technical search skills as our advantage in these areas is eroding and limited when not looking at the esoteric interfaces we create for ourselves and then inflict on innocent users.

The HLG AGM followed (do read the annual report).  It would be great if we could find a way to make better use of this opportunity rather than just working through the formalities required of HLG as a body.  The accounts show a chance to invest in things members want and some research is taking place to examine the CPD needs of HLG members.  Something I would like to have seen is systematic recording of the talks at conference.  These could then be made available alongside the slides.  This would be a benefit to those who attended but want to refresh their memories and to those who could not attend to give them a flavour of things.  It could be free to members and available for a small cost (or nothing) to others.

The day closed with an excellent dinner, a comic, dancing, extensive discussion and the traditional Manchester summer – torrential rain.


NICE’s plans for the specialist collections

In Health industry,Information industry,Professional Organisations on July 8, 2010 by Alan Lovell Tagged: , , , , , ,

I noticed today a tender notice from NICE outlining their broad plans for the specialist collections. Here is an abridged version:

“Today, NHS Evidence provides access to 30 collections of specialist evidence content, the ‘Specialist Collections’. In April 2011, NHS Evidence will launch a redesigned and improved specialist evidence service. As well as the technical developments, topic coverage will be extended and greater emphasis will be placed on quality assurance and standardisation of processes and products across topic areas. The current Specialist Collection service is contracted out to 21 distinct organisations (with an overall headcount of approx. 80 staff). The contracts for these services are due to end on 31.3.2011. In order to achieve the quality, consistency and standardisation objectives listed above, NHS Evidence are aiming to rationalise the provision of the core service to three Clinical Hub Centres. One of these will be in-house and Manchester based. The other two will be contracted out. The purpose of this tender is the provision of the service of these two Clinical Hub Centres from 1.4.2011. Each contracted out hub will cover 8 to 10 speciality areas. Key activities of each centre will include hand-picking content from sources routinely ingested by NHS Evidence, searching and identifying content from specialist sources, tagging resources / allocating to an agreed taxonomy, identifying entries for UK DUETs (UK Database of Uncertainties about the Effects of Treatment), preparing and programme managing Evidence Updates on selected key topics within the hub’s remit (there are currently over 60 Evidence Updates in total across all specialist collections, but this number is likely to increase). Managing and quality assuring the activities of each hub will be part of the service.”

There you are then. Make of that what you will. Nervous times for all involved, no doubt. Presumably the Kings Fund will go for one, given that they already manage three of the current specialist collections. Maybe a consortium up in Oxford (Oxford Radcliffe/CEBM)? They have their hands on a few. The University of Surrey currently manage three. The universities of Southampton, Sheffield and Warwick all have experience, as do a few London teaching hospitals (e.g. Royal Free). Any thoughts or inside information from anyone out there?

**Update 9th July**

It has been suggested that idle speculation about who might go for these Hubs is unhelpful, and that given people are stressed because some might lose their jobs etc. that it should best not be discussed. It is also noticeable that, apart from co-blogger Danni (thanks Danni!), there have been no comments made on the post, even though our stats suggest it has been viewed quite a number of times. I suppose I have four things to say:

  1. I’m just delighted when people other than my Mum read my posts
  2. We rarely get too many comments anyway *sigh*
  3. I’m a chatty blogger who likes to idly speculate. I also find it difficult to finish off blog posts. Ending after “… (e.g. Royal Free)” seemed a bit abrupt. I therefore lazily tapped out “Any thoughts or inside information from anyone out there?” just to round off the post in classic blogging style with a meaningless “what do you think” kind of way. I certainly never thought that I would get much response, let alone “Yes, I am a representative of organisation X, and we’re going for it”!
  4. I am aware that jobs will go, but also that new jobs will be created. I would never make light of the nervousness that we all feel during this time of uncertainty – for better or for worse, none of us have a job for life any more, and we all suffer from job anxiety. I apologise if it seemed to be in bad taste to speculate. However I do maintain that it is a topic of interest to a wide range of people, both inside and outside the NICE/specialist libraries axis, and that it’s right and proper that it is a point of discussion. Of course people on the inside will already have been speculating for a while, and will be much much better informed than I – they also would not start tapping out their inner thoughts on a forum such as this! But there are also people on the outside who are nevertheless interested in what’s going on, and some would be interested in speculation as to what’s going to happen next; and, I would suggest, why wouldn’t they be?

Basically, good luck to anyone who’s going for it, and double good luck for anyone whose job might be affected by it.


The curse of IE6

In search engines on November 3, 2009 by africker Tagged: , ,

So NHS Evidence has been upgraded?  Lets have a look.

The first thing that leaps to the eye (ahem) is that the site is broken in IE6.  Navigation menus are not aligned, the search box has drifted off to the right and the results display is variously squashed or overflowing into the wrong section of the page.  This is something of an issue given that most of the NHS still lives in a retro world of IE6 (Copyright Microsoft 1995-2004).  I am sure it will be resolved soon (and it works fine with Chrome) but testing against IE6 must be an essential for any site deployment aimed at NHS users. 

What about the changes that were actually desired?

The accreditated sources of guidance have started to come on stream and have a slightly stretched mini eye to advertise themselves in the results.  This is visually clear but practically confusing (see the widely distributed quote from the Minister which only adds to the potential confusion).  A search for diabetes reveals lots of accredited source hits – but down at number 25 is Sign Publication No55 Management of Diabetes.  This does not carry the logo even though SIGN is one of the three bodies currently authorised to use it.  Why?  It might be the age of the item (2001) or some other factor.  Certainly it will be confusing to the end user.

A facility to rate results has been added with a Likert scale followed by a free text box for opinions.   You do not have to be logged in with the new My Evidence section to use this so there is no mechanism for feeding back to those who contribute comments in this way.  I wonder how much use this will receive?  It is definitely worth a try as developers and may garner some useful feedback.

The final obvious major change (there may be some subtle ones I have missed) is My Evidence. 

It will be interesting to see the level of take up of this facility (and to consider the levels of usage that the old MyLibrary facility on NLH attracted).  James Robertson in his excellent book “What every Intranet team should know” advances that experience shows only 5-10% of users will make use of personalisation features. 

My Evidence offers a means to save NHS Evidence searches and  set up alerts from those searches.  This seems to work OK.  My test search generated an enormous and unrealistic number of hits for the first week but I guess this might be expected.  My Evidence also offers the ability to save a result which is a welcome addition.  This currently lacks the means to subsequently manage these results (folders, tags etc?) which will be necessary for this function to remain useful as more documents are added.

Less convincing is the My News Feeds feature.  This is a fairly locked down RSS reader.  You can only add feeds from a very limited directory (most categories were empty when I had a look).  When you do add them you have no control over how many entries are displayed or how much content you see initially.  You also cannot save any of the results that are particularly interesting for later reference.  In  many ways it is a more limited version of the similarly unconvincing offer included in MyLibrary on NLH.

You can also add an optional profile.  There is however no justification given at present as to why you would want to.  Perhaps social tools will follow that will make this a more worthwhile feature?

My Evidence use a widget model so it is to be hoped that more options and control will be progressively given to the user.  If the iGoogle model is followed you could create a useful alternative starting point for people.  Hopefully the next iteration of NHS Evidence will see the addition of a HLISD widget that would allow end users to find their closest library or information service. 

The final thing of note is the authentication route.  NHS Evidence have chosen to require a new registration from users.  It is to be hoped that Athens will also be enabled in a future version.  Across the NHS the push is to reduce the number of logins required.  By linking to Athens the route to paid for content could be smoothed.  Athens also links people to organisations and roles which would be a useful way to potentially segment and tailor features on the site.  Not using Athens does have the advantage of allowing anyone to register and is no doubt administratively less burdensome.  One way forward might be the model adopted by BMJLearning where you can link your site login to your Athens login.


Adding NHS Evidence Search to Google Toolbar

In search engines on September 24, 2009 by africker Tagged: , , ,

For some reason I have held out till now against installing Google Toolbar – more fool me.  It really is very handy.

On starting to play with it I immediately thought – I wish I could use this to launch a search on resource of the moment – NHS Evidence.  And what do you know – you can add new search targets.

Once you have Google Toolbar installed you just go to the search engine you want to add – right click in the search box and select “Generate Custom Search”. 

Well – that is the theory.  In practice my first run at it added a button to my toolbar but all it did was send me to NHS Evidence and add my search terms in the box ready to hit search.  I wasn’t satisfied with that so I bodged about with the code a bit and got this.

<?xml version=”1.0″ encoding=”utf-8″?>
<custombuttons xmlns=”“>
    <search method=”post” charset=”utf-8″>{query}</search>
    <title>NHS Evidence</title>
    <description>NHS Evidence</description>

So once you have added your initial (not quite right) search button – right click on it – select NHS Evidence Button Options – click on advanced – and replace the code with the above and save to the toolbar.

Bingo.  It still isn’t perfect by any means – if you try and do a subsequent search from the box at the top of your results you get sent back to the NHS Evidence home page.  And the icon is just a blob – though as a blue blob it looks a little like the Liquorice Allsort of doom that is the NHS Evidence logo.

I know NHSE are planning to create a smart Google style tool bar but in the mean time this does the job fine.  If they like they could set up a button that works properly (I am sure this would actually be pretty easy) and host an “add this to my Google Toolbar” link.

If anyone can fix my bodge to work better (or hosts an “add this to my Toolbar link” – let me know and I will update this post accordingly.


NHS Evidence; Google without the good bits

In Evidence-Based Medicine,search engines,Web 2.0 & all that,Website reviews on September 24, 2009 by Alan Lovell Tagged: , , , , , , , , ,

Our other Alan wrote a piece a couple of posts ago on, amongst other things, this article in the Nursing Times. Basically it’s a press release for NICE, written by an implementation advisor for said large, powerful organisation. It describes how NHS Evidence will be so very useful for nurses, and I suppose it could be argued that it’s useful because the odd nurse (not literally you understand) may be flicking through the magazine, scan the article, and go and try out a bit of evidence hunting themselves. Surely a happy outcome.

But I fear that our odd nurse will only try out NHS Evidence once, maybe even twice, but probably not a third time. Why? Well, according to an issue of the Eyes on Evidence Newsletter (more PR from NICE) the top five most frequently used search terms were 1) asthma; 2) prostate AND cancer; 3) evidence; 4) flu OR influenza; 5) breastfeeding, so we get an idea of the level of sophistication behind most searches. Let’s try the top one, asthma. 5026 hits, including 516 guidelines and 1627 drug information pieces. You get the general idea. The first ‘guideline’ is  “Guidelines for the prevention, identification and management of occupational asthma: evidence review and recommendations”, a pretty hardcore 88 page PDF of an evidence review, complete with evidence tables, from the British Occupational Health Research Foundation. Not at all helpful, I would’ve thought, to our odd yet eager nurse. If s/he wanted a good review of what to with someone with asthma surely they’d just go to an evidence synthesis product, such as Clinical Evidence, CKS, Dynamed or the Map of Medicine.

The problem is that NHS Evidence’s obsession with Google means that their search engine suffers exactly the same problem as Google (too many hits) but does not have the same saving grace (that the one you really want is at the top). Plus, and this is still really the crux of my problem, I still don’t have a clue who NHS Evidence is meant to be for – neither, I think, do the people behind NHS Evidence. “All things to all people” often ends up as nothing to no-one.


NHS Evidence promotion – what is missing?

In search engines on September 18, 2009 by africker Tagged: ,

As part of a pattern of missed opportunity comes the latest article promoting NHS Evidence.

The notes from the NHS Evidence update to the latest NICE Board show we can expect lots more of this kind of thing over the coming months with articles to be placed in publications and a wide presence at conferences (including the three major UK political party conferences). 

The article itself is positive about NHS Evidence as you might expect.  Some would suggest that it reads a little too like a press release to be entirely comfortably presented as “Double-blind peer reviewed”.    It is interesting to put the satisfaction of the author in contrast to the recent post here.  It is a little strange to read trailers for features that are not yet present on the site.

An earlier article in E-health-insider provoked several frank comments and, ultimately, a reply from Dr Leng (NHS Evidence COO).  The Nursing Times article is certainly a step forward on that one in the accuracy stakes.

So what is missing from NHS Evidence promotion (and this latest article)?  The answer is of course recognition that NHS Evidence users are not alone in facing the challenge of finding the information they need.  No mention of the network of skilled professionals who help those NHS staff on a daily basis.   The L word is not to be uttered. 

There is some progress – the latest issue of Eyes on Evidence (NHS Newsletter number 5) does recognise that a librarian might be a good person to ask for help (in response to a request for someone to do a search for them).  But fails to make the link to any of the ways people might find that librarian.  This is a step forward on a previous issue which answered the FAQ – How do I search for journal articles?  Answer – this is how to sign up for Athens.  Not really what they asked and a question crying out for the L word answer. 

I hope NHS Evidence will soon overcome this seeming aversion to placing itself in the context of the wider NHS knowledge environment.  It is to the disadvantage of the people it seeks to help if it does not.