#Medlibs Tomorrow: Using Social Media for Consumer Health

Tomorrow I will be moderating the #medlibs chat and we will discuss the use of social media for patient education and consumer health.  72% of adults seek medical information online, and between 26-34% (depending on various reports) of people use social media to find health information.  The thought is the trend will continue to grow.

I will be asking these questions (I’m giving them to you ahead of time so you can think about them):

  • How are librarians using social media to provide consumer health information or patient education?
  • How do you measure the effectiveness of a social media health information campaign?
  • What are some barriers to providing patient education/consumer health information via social media?

#medlibs is a active group with lots of ideas and opinions so I am sure we will have more questions as we discuss things, but this is these are the main ones to get us started.

See you all online Thursday July 11, 2013 at 6pm PST and 9pm EST.

*Disclosure Notice*
I am writing a book chapter on this topic and this #medlibs discussion will help me with it.  I may use some tweets or reference parts of the #medlibs chat in the chapter.  I don’t want to squelch the overall fun chattiness of the group.  If I use anything I will only refer to tweets that are specifically related to the discussion topic and I will make every effort to let you know I am using your tweet.


After Google Reader: Feedly & Digg Readers

People who have been using Google Reader have been scrambling to find an adequate solution to replace their beloved feed reader.  Back in March, I wrote post on reader options for those looking to migrate before the end of Google Reader.  I never really got into the Google Reader.  I was a Bloglines girl who threw all of her feeds to Google Reader in a panic just before Bloglines disappeared.  In months following the Bloglines blow up, I settled on Netvibes.  At the time, I liked Netvibes integration with my social media and feeds.  As I mentioned in my post in March, I haven’t been reading my Netvibes as much as I used to.  While I liked Netvibes, something was missing.  I suspected it was because it didn’t have an app, but now I think it was a combination of things.

When Google decided to pull the plug on its reader I decided to investigate different feed readers again to determine if I found one better than Netvibes or if I really even needed a reader now.  These days I get a lot of my information from Twitter and to a lesser extent Facebook.  People are tweeting their blog posts, or interesting questions, topics, issues, etc. and I wondered whether my social media feeds caused me to move beyond a feed reader.  This is kind of the same thing Marcela De Vivo at Search Engine Journal wondered with her post, “Google Reader Is Almost Gone, But Do You Really NEED An RSS Reader Replacement?

Could it be that Google is transitioning away from the RSS Reader format entirely? They’re switching over to Google Plus, and they want you to come with them.

Consuming social media as part of an RSS feed is not exactly new—that’s exactly what Digg is doing when it launches its own reader, the same day Reader shuts down. But to do away with readers entirely, relying solely on a social platform? When we’re looking at large-scale data consumption, is it a viable transition?

The answer is yes—if Google can pull it off. With the latest Google Plus redesign, this social platform is now much more social, making it easier to stream and share information. It could be possible to amass “feeds” of information… if you’re following the right people. And in order to make sure the right people are on Plus, Google got rid of it’s eminently popular Reader.

It could also be said that Google is simply following on the heels of a major trend in how we access information. RSS readers were designed for people to sit down and browse their collected feeds. But with the increasing number of those who use smartphones and tablets as their primary internet checkpoint, it’s more common to see people who are accessing information all day long, checking the latest news on a constant basis—which makes an integrated social media/reader platform much more probable option.

It is an interesting concept.  Right now I only use Google Plus for work at my institution. (The Department of Education is exploring its use for connecting and sharing within the department and increasing synergy.)  I play on it a bit for personal and library stuff, but I just haven’t gotten into it yet.  Maybe Google knows me better than I do, and Google Plus will be attached to my hip in a year’s time.  I remember saying years ago that Twitter was fun but I couldn’t think of using it professionally. Doh!

In the meantime I have not yet given up my feeds.  I decided to explore Feedly.  I don’t like the fact that Feedly doesn’t work with IE.  I know everybody talks about IE’s decline in the browser wars but the problem is that many major hospitals and larger companies use only IE.  Academia and the open natured technology industry have the flexibility to shun IE in favor of other browsers, but there is a large group of the working population that can’t.    I am not the only one who reads feeds at work, Feedly’s suggestions page has many comments on the IE issue.  Apparently the new Feedly Cloud feature might help IE users, but there are those on the suggestions page that seem to have problems with Cloud.

Now I am lucky in that I am able to use Firefox and Chrome on my work computer.  However, because there are a lot of hospital resources and other web resources that were created specifically for IE, it tends to be my browser of habit at work.  I noticed I am breaking that habit slowly.  I have Chrome up almost all the time for two reasons. 1. Our the Department of Education is exploring the use of Google Plus. 2. My life is on Google Calendar and I need to consult it often.

One of the nice things about Feedly is that it integrates very well with Chrome.  As soon as I launch Chrome the Feedly tab launches with my feeds.  This is actually is quite helpful to me and works perfectly with my morning current awareness reading habit.  When I login to my computer each morning the first thing I do is bring up Chrome for my calendar, so the Feedly tab with my feeds is right there too.  This has gotten me back into the habit of reading my feeds.

Feedly has an app and it is on my iPhone, but like Marcela mentioned, it is a bit clunky.  I don’t use Feedly on my phone as much as I thought.  I still use it more than I used Netvibes, mainly because it is an app on my phone.  I have found that on my phone Feedly has to compete for my attention among my other apps.  I tend to use apps that have the alert icons on more than the ones that don’t.  Because Feedly doesn’t have alerts showing up on the icon, it often gets ignored for other apps like Facebook, Hootsuite, mail, Words with Friends, news apps, etc. that all have alerts.  I see a little red number next to those apps and my brain says, “Ooh what’s new that I need to know about?”  I know I am easily distracted.

I have pretty much left Netvibes, it just didn’t fit into my work flow anymore.  I have moved to Feedly and while I am using it more than I used Netvibes, the jury is still out as to whether I keep it or move to only get information through Twitter.  Intellectually I am not ready for that kind of switch, but we’ll see if my daily life’s actions tell me otherwise.

For those that don’t like any of the options I mentioned in March, Digg is creating a reader that might interest you. They are certainly cutting it close, as they mentioned on their blog, their public release of version 1 will come just before Google shuts Reader down. Currently they sent out their first batch of invites to the survey participants who helped with their development process.  “Over the next few hours”, they’ll open Digg Reader to the rest of the users  signed up for early access.  If you want to try Digg you can sign up here: digg.com/reader. As they scale up over the next day or so, they’ll be adding users in increasingly larger batches. According to Digg, “this beta version is aimed first and foremost at Google Reader users looking for a new home in advance of its imminent shutdown.”  They have instructions on how to migrate from Google to Digg.

As they mentioned the beta version is very basic but they have plans to really improve it in updates.

Things Digg will be rolling out in the next few months include:

  • Search
  • Android app (before end of July)
  • Additional options like “View Only Unread” and “Mark As Unread”
  • Useful ways to rank and sort your posts and stories, such as (1) by popularity within your social networks, (2) by interestingness to you, and (3) by article length
  • Better tools for organizing feeds and folders, as well as support for tagging
  • More options for sharing and sending (e.g., to LinkedIn, Google+, WordPress, Tumblr, Squarespace, Evernote, Dropbox, Buffer), and integration of IFTTT functions
  • Browser extension and/or bookmarklet
  • Ability to import and export your data
  • Uber for cronuts

After reading more about Digg, it looks like I am going to have to check it out.  However, I am going to wait a bit.  I don’t need to jump Feedly’s ship just yet and the things I am interested in are not in the product yet.  Still it is interesting.

Meaningful Use Stage 2: Can Librarians Help?

A colleague tweeted this article, “Are Physicians Truly Engaging with their Patients? by Nancy Finn” about physicians, EMRs and meaningful use.  According to the article, “as of March, 2013, 160,890 eligible professionals had received Medicare incentive payments and 83,765 professionals had received Medicaid incentive payments” for achieving stage 1 one meaningful use. While they were able to achieve stage 1, are they ready for stage 2? How are they changing their practice patterns to achieve stage 2?

The article states stage 2 requirements are:

  • Provide patients with their health information (via a web portal) on 50% of occasions and have at least 5% of these patients actually download, view or transmit that data to a third party.
  • Provide a summary of the care record for 50% of transitions of care during referral or transfer of patient care settings.
  • Provide patient-specific education resources identified by Certified EHR technology to more than 10% of patients with an office visit.
  • Engage in secure messaging to communicate with patients on relevant health information.
  • Make available all imaging results through certified EHR technology.
  • Provide clinical summaries to more than 50% of patients within one business day.

Finn wonders if “a majority of physicians remain steadfast in dominating the physician/patient relationship, convinced that engaging patients in their care is a burden? Or are many of them beginning to realize that engaging the patient in their health care decisions will make health care more efficient and cost effective, and improve patient outcomes?”

The librarian in me wonders if there are ways we can help physicians meet stage 2 requirements.  I know with EPIC a physician can send a request for a librarian to provide patient education information to the patient through their portal.  I know specifically of one librarian who got a message in Epic to do that.  She logged in, provide links and contact information to appropriate free patient ed resources to the patient.  The patient got the information through My Chart and was so happy that she emailed the librarian thanking her for the information.  Another nice thing about this patient ed transaction, EPIC noted that patient education information was sent to the patient and included that in her chart for the doctor to see. 

I’m not trying to say that doctors shouldn’t help provide patient education information, but I also know that in a hospital environment things can be hectic, confusing, scary, etc. for the patient.  They may have gotten information from the doctor but not understood it or wanted more detailed information.  Using the librarian to provide patient education material through EPIC (and EPIC notes that it was provided) has got to help both doctors and patients.

Are there other ways that librarians can help doctors and their institutions meet stage 2 requirements? Please comment with your ideas.


Alternatives to Google Reader

I know I am a bit late with the news that Google is killing Google Reader.  I know lots of people who are upset about this.  For me the sky started falling back when Bloglines died.  Back then I migrated all of my feeds to Netvibes.  I could have gone the Google Reader route, but I just didn’t quite like Reader as much as Netvibes.  So while my feeds were both in Reader and Netvibes, I used Netvibes more.

For all of you Readers, you are probably wondering what you are going to do with your feeds.  First, let me tell you this is a really good time to evaluate and weed your feeds.  You also might want to evaluate if you still need a reader.  I have noticed that I have been using my reader less and less.  I don’t know if it is because of my personal and professional life changes and time constraints have made reading my feeds more difficult or if it is because I am getting my more of my news from Twitter.  I have noticed with my adoption of TweetDeck (and Hootsuite iPhone) for monitoring tweets, my reader use has dropped.  I have debated about dropping my feeds altogether.  But old habits die hard.

So if you still need a reader then you might want to check out a few of these sites to see if they suit you.

Netvibes – It has a free and premium version. Free is all you need and has plenty of features  Has very good social media integration.  Makes tweeting or facebooking  blog posts and other feed items very easy.  I still recommend using  TweetDeck or Hootsuite for monitoring Twitter overall.  It doesn’t have an app, but is mobile optimized but that has limited features.  Perhaps that is why I don’t use it as much.  As my husband will tell you, if it isn’t on my phone, it isn’t on my mind. 

The Old Reader – Is free.  Is designed to look and feel like old Google Reader, so if you liked that style, it  might be the perfect option for you. You can also follow other Old Reader users and share with them, similar to Google Reader.  They don’t have a mobile app but are supposedly working on one.  It is looks fine on a mobile device.

Feedly – Is free and has been around for quite a while.  Bad news for IE controlled institutions, Feedly doesn’t work with IE. It only works with Firefox and Chrome. It also requires you to install a plug in and if you have a locked down computer, it won’t work for you.  It too is a social media tool that easily lets you share things with your social network friends.  There are several layouts that are available for you to choose from.  They have the straight top to bottom feed style , full articles, or the Flipboard style.  Easy to transfer feeds from Reader, in fact I signed in using my Google ID and everything migrated seamlessly.  Feedly does have an app for iOS and Android. With demise of Reader there are quite a few upset people posting to the Feedly board about the lack of IE use.  There are many more people with companies that force IE use than just hospitals.

NewsBlur – Premium version costs $24/yr.  They have a free version but it caps the number of blogs, stories and public sharing options.  The blog and stories cap is the deal killer for me.  It caps you at 64 blogs and 10 stories at a time. Additionally they have temporarily stopped free users from signing up. Ptthhbbb.  I normally wouldn’t even mention them (I didn’t link them) but since other sites are recommending them, I felt obligated to at least mention them with their fees and stopping free user registration. Stupid considering this the time to grab users leaving Reader. Once they find a reader they won’t magically switch unless forced to.  Very short sighted of them and makes me thing even less of them.

While I wasn’t using Reader, I also dialed back my Netvibes reading considerably.  So instead of worrying about my Reader feeds from Google, I am going to take this time to investigate whether I even need a reader anymore by investigating Feedly.  I am not a big fan of the Flipboard style of things but that is no big deal because I can use the plain ol’ reader style.  While I like Netvibes, clearly I evolved beyond it for some reason.  My guess is because it doesn’t have an app.  That is why I am giving Feedly a try.  I am going to see if having my feeds synced to an app on my phone increases my use of them.  I am lucky to be able to have Firefox on my computer, but I rarely use it since much of our hospital stuff is IE.  So the whole Feedly experiment will be interesting to me.

Usage Stats: Are They a Double Edged Sword?

Back in the olden days a library bought a subscription to a journal and they paid the institutional price which was often listed on the inside cover of the printed issue.  It was always more expensive than the personal subscription, but there wasn’t tiered pricing, FTE pricing, or pricing based on inpatient admissions and number of specialists.  For the most part the price you saw on the inside cover was the price you paid.

Then came the electronic journal.  At first journals weren’t quite sure how they were going to have their articles online.  Some gave it away free, others were free with a print subscription, some charged a nominal upcharge, while some charged a specific online journal price. Ejournals grew in usage and with tightening budgets librarians began dumping the duplicate print. During that time institutional prices evolved to a Ladon of possibilities.

Additionally, the concept of eresources has moved beyond journals. It extends to books, databases, integrated EMR and patient education products, image databases, etc.  As librarians we demand to know our usage statistics for our eresources.  We need to know what our patrons are using so we can get the most bang for our buck.  However, we aren’t the only ones who see our usage statistics.  The vendors that sell us our products run the reports and it isn’t in their best interest for us to get the biggest bang out of our buck.  I am not trying to imply that all of the vendors are nefarious. I am just saying that if they see that your cost per use stats are so phenomenal that they may be looking how to get more money from you.  For example you are paying $50,000 for a product that you use so often that you have $.05 per use but the average library in your tier pays about $.10 per use,  the vendors think you are getting their product for a $50,000 discount compared to others in your tier. 

Prior to eresources, vendors knew very little about the usage of their product in the institution.  The usage of printed journals and books were often only known by the librarian through shelving studies or circulation statistics.  I remember when we had CD Plus and had to load the MEDLINE CDs on a CD tower for people to search.  Despite not having the type of usage data we have to today, librarians still looked at how their databases were used (Volkers AC. Bull Med Libr Assoc. 1995 Oct’ 83(4):436-9.) and even tried to determine journal needs through the database (Dunn, K. Medinfo. 1995;8 Pt 2: 1428-32.) The usage stats were all in house.  So while you might have known what your cost per use was for a journal, book, or database there was no way that a vendor knew, unless you published it in a journal article that they read. 

It seems that with wide scale use of eresources, usage stats have become a double edge sword.  Not only do we still need to know what is being used but vendors now also know what we are using.  They can use this information to their advantage as well.   While neither party wants to have a resource that is a dud, I’ve got to wonder if we are now also victims of our own success.  Many of us have already cut the chaff from the wheat years ago.  All of our eresources are high performers.  Yet because they are high performers are they costing us more than if they were less utilized?  If so isn’t that the exact opposite of what a librarian needs to be thinking about? 

Betsy Kelly, Claire Hamasu, and Barbara Jones wrote an interesting article, “Applying Return on Investment (ROI) Libraries. (Journal of Library Administration. 2012;52(8):656-71.)  Determining the ROI is necessary to measure the value of the library resources to the institution.  Many medical librarians use the NN/LM MCR ROI Calculator to determine the replacement value of services provide by the library.  In addition to quantifying the number of classes, room use, photocopies, and ILL’s the calculator can also factor in the cost of ejournals, databases, ebooks and their usage.  So in order to get a good ROI we want high usage for these electronic resources. 

ROI is what hospital administrators are looking at when it comes to everything.  Hospital administrators are focused on controlling costs and demanding the biggest savings possible.  According to an article from the Daily Beast about the Cleveland Clinic , CEO Dr. Cosgrove is described as something of a “fanatic” regarding controlling costs.

“Our physicians are so engaged in our supply chain that they help negotiate the price down for the things we use,” Cosgrove told me (Daily Beast), and reeled off a list of examples:

  • When I was the head of surgery, we needed a new heart-lung machine, and we decided there were three models that could work, so we did a reverse auction to get the lowest price.
  • We put price tags on things in the operating room: before you open that $250 set of new sutures, make sure you actually need it.
  • We found out that there’s a lot of redundant tests that are done, or tests that won’t be vital to the patient’s care. We know that there are some things that don’t change. For example, the reticulocyte count can’t change but week to week. So if someone’s ordered a reticulocyte count, you can’t ordered another for a week.”


I might be going out on a limb here, but I have to think that all administrators are pretty fanatical about costs and keeping them low.  So how does the idea of keeping costs low factor in with eresources?  Are we at a point with some resources that good usage is actually hurting us, costing us more come negotiation time (if we can even negotiate)? In the spirit of the $250 suture kit, do we start adding a price tag to our eresources before users click on them?  That would be kind of absurd and certainly would drive down our usage stats which in turn would drive up our cost per use. 

In this day and age where we use our usage statistics to drop resources and vendors use them to determine pricing, how are we to come to a even playing field when our budget is shrinking and our administrator wants to see increase cost savings?  We struggle to show our ROI on a smaller and smaller budget as our resources increase in price.  We explain to administration that if they didn’t have us to do what we do it would actually end up costing them a lot more in time and money to provide the same resources and services.  But as Kelly et al mention, the “problem with ROI calculations based on cost avoidance is the underlying assumption that users will look elsewhere to purchase the same services and resources they receive from the library. It is not realistic to assume that users could afford or would make the effort to personally pay for all of the services they receive.”   Hospital administrators are essentially already doing this.  By cutting the library’s budgets to the bone they are forcing librarians to not pay for all of the same services and resources.  When a hospital library closes, the budget for those electronic journals, books, and databases (as well as everything else) is gone.  Almost none of the resources are kept by the institution. When administration closes a hospital library, they are not replacing the same services and resources. 

Usage statistics help librarians determine ROI to hospital administration, but what are we to do when administration wants to see usage and ROI go up but vendors increase the price (thus decreasing our ROI) as a result of our usage stats?  It seems as if librarians are between a rock and hard place. Do we need to look at another method of valuing our services and resources?  If so, what?

Chat About Apps and Tablets Tomorrow on #Medlibs

Tomorrow (Thursday 3/7/13) at 9:00pm est, I will be hosting the #medlibs chat on apps and tablets.  What are you doing with apps? Are you creating a library specific app, catalog app, etc? Or do you have a good app guide that you want to share with others?  Is there a push for tablets within your institution, if so which one?  Can tablets access the EMR so that your docs & nurses can treat patients and do research with one device?

What other trends do you see or want discussed about apps and tablets?  Let me know?

Here are some sites you might be interested prior to the #medlibs chat.

Setting up iPad lending program
  • Nova Southeaster University Health Professions Division Library http://bit.ly/HApZqW – tips, resources
  • University of Groningen Central Medical Library http://bit.ly/15vCVqE -finding medical apps, information on adding bookmarks, (side bar has a lot of info)
  • Setting up a library iPad program: Guidelines for Success – http://crln.acrl.org/content/72/4/212.full Full text article in ACRL News by Sara Thompson at Briar Cliff University
  • Continuing the conversation: Integrating iPads and tablet computers into library services http://bit.ly/wgnMRS -ALA Tech Source article by Daniel Freeman

Policies and Procedures

App Stuff

Hope to see you on the chat tomorrow!  If you haven’t participated in a chat before, the easiest way to do it is use the cite TweetChat, login with your Twitter password and the follow #medlibs.

Emerging Technology and Hospital Libraries

Thursday #medlibs will discuss the 2013 Horizon Report- Higher Education edition, “a decade-long research project designed to identify and describe   emerging technologies likely to have an impact on learning, teaching, and creative inquiry in higher education.”

When we are talking higher education it is barely just a hop, skip, and a jump to think of how all of it will impact libraries in higher education.  While academic libraries will see the impact quicker, hospital libraries aren’t immune to the changes.  Because what is considered trending technology by medical students will be common place when they enter their residency programs in the hospitals and will be outdated when they are staff physicians.

So what kind of technology does the Horizon Report list and what will be talking about on #medlibs?

Happening in one year or less according Horizon:
(I say it is happening now)

  • Massively Open Online Courses (MOOCs)
  • Tablet Computing

Happening 2-3 years:

  • Big Data and Learning Analytics
  • Game Based Learning

Happening 4-5 years:

  • 3D Printing
  • Wearable Technology

As a hospital librarian I have to say that tablet’s have exploded and it is in our world now.  Big Data is the next “big money” thing that hospital librarians need to be aware of.  There are already academic librarian positions for data management dealing with research.  Hospital librarians might think that they don’t need to worry about data management because their institution doesn’t really do research. WRONG?!?!

If your hospital has an EMR, it has tons of data that it needs to manage and most likely that data is either just sitting there in the EMR or communicating poorly with a few of the hodge podge of other computer systems within your hospital.

Hospitals eligible for Medicare EHR Incentive Programs must demonstrate meaningful use of the EHR technology. “Eligible hospitals and CAHs that do not successfully demonstrate meaningful use of certified EHR technology will be subject to Medicare payment adjustments beginning in FY 2015.” Read that as penalized.

Personally I see data management as a natural extension for libraries that have already been involved with IT and the EMR.

Here are two examples of many where hospitals are mining the data within the EMR to improve care.

  1. The Value of Data: It’s How You Use It.
  2. Health Fidelity Receives Grant from National Science Foundation to Support Use of EHR Data to Improve Quality of Care.

Perhaps I am old and my memory is failing but weren’t librarians talking about data mining in 2000? IT was mining for data withing bibliographic databases, but aren’t the principles the same?  Data mining and the EHR are one avenue that hospital librarians who are interested in the future of librarianship need to consider.

The Horizon Report lists other technologies, how do you see them impacting hospital librarians and when?  Feel free to comment below or better yet, join us Thursday at 9pm est. for the #medlibs discussion on Twitter.  (The easiest way to follow a discussion on Twitter is go to TweetChat, login using your Twitter login, then follow the #medlibs hastag.)


Seeking Virtual Projects

The Journal of the Medical Library Association (JMLA) has a new annual column describing innovative and notable virtual projects in health sciences libraries. This column will focus on library virtual spaces. “In an increasingly digital world, the library’s virtual space can be as much of a hub as the library’s physical space. Digital content and technology-rich library services are moving the library presence outside the physical building to support users in their digital spaces wherever and whenever needed.”

JMLA is looking for submissions of recent virtual projects for the Virtual Projects column.  The column will be published in October 2013.

Examples of projects that could be submitted include:

  • projects that improve the quality of the library’s virtual presence through webpages or its catalog
  • development of technologies that facilitate information discovery and content delivery (e.g., federated searching products and portals)
  • mobile-friendly resource and service initiatives
  • development of web 2.0/Library 2.0 initiatives (e.g., social networking applications)
  • hosting and preserving digital content activities
  • projects that demonstrate the use of library resources and services through the institution’s electronic health record (EHR)
  • collaborative ventures with campus or other partners to develop new digital resources and services


To be considered for this column, please submit a 200-word abstract of your virtual project or a link to your project web page that describes the project and why it is innovative/notable. Send your submissions to Susan Lessick, AHIP, FMLA, by March 15, 2013.

The Future of ePub Browsing

Sunday I got an email from my county library, Cuyahoga County Public Library, about their new online journal platform called Zinio.  Zinio is a company that allows my public library to provide access to many of their magazine subscriptions on to my iPad (as well as other devices) in an easy to read format. 

Here is a screen shot of the magazines that I selected to have on my iPad to read, all courtsey of my Cuyahoga County Public Library card.


I was also in the process of finding apps for our medical library’s libguide.  I sent a tweet out asking for suggestions and some people including Third Iron responded.  Third Iron is a company that produces the product Browzine.  Their company which is has many executives with library degrees or significant library experience, works to make online journals available in an easy browsing experience for the online user.

Tuesday I spoke with Kendall Bartsch about Browzine, what it does and how it might work for our library.  Browzine is very similar to Zinio.  Where Zinio is magazines, Browzine is scholary publications and with its share, email, download, features, (not available in Zinio) it quite frankly blows Zinio out of the water. 

Browzine allows people to browse scholarly publications and read the table of contents to the recent issues of journals.  It works with various publishers such as Springer, Wiley, AMA, Nature, etc.  It also works with Open Access publications.  Users download the free Browzine app (currently iPad only but they are working on Android).  When they login to Browzine it asks them to select their library.  If their library has a subscription to Browzine they can login and access their library’s subscriptions via the iPad. 

Browzine is a very new company, they have quite an impressive list of libraries who are either trialing the product or have a subscription, including Welch Medical Library, Medical University of South Carolina, Northwestern, and Washington University.  If your library doesn’t have a subscription to Browzine, or if you want to try it out and play with it you can still download the free app and select Open Access titles which enables you to view the table of contents and PDFs of the open access publications and journal articles. 

There are a ton of Open Access titles and if your library subscribes to Browzine then there are a ton of publisher titles that users can access.  With that large of a number of journals it would get tedious to scroll through or search for your favorite journals that you like to keep up with.  That is why you are able to save those journals in your own personal library shelf.  So when you access Browzine you can go directly to that shelf instead of searching through a bunch of other journals.

Here is a screen shot of Open Access titles in Biomedical and Health Sciences -Medical Science. If your library has a subscription your library’s name is where Your Library Identity is and your list of journals will be more than just the OA titles.  (Note: there are MANY OA journals, the picture below is just a small slice from the OA Biomedical & Health Sciences -Medical Sciences category.)


Here is a screen shot of my “favorite” journals that I like to read.  (Pretend I am doctor or researcher who likes to read these scholarly publications.)


Here is a screen shot of the table of contents for one of my favorite journals. The yellow inbox indicates I have saved that article on my iPad.


Here is a screen shot of the PDF of an article from the TOC and the options for emailing, saving, sharing, etc.


Browzine is compatible with iAnnotate (a popular PDF annotating app) and DropBox and Box as well as other programs. 

To say I was blown away was an understatement.  Finally now after all these years, people will be able to browse the table of contents easily AND connect to the article via the library’s subscription in an extremely easy way.  The concept of my own personal bookshelf is great.  The ability to export the articles is essential and thankfully is easy to do with Browzine.  Currently Browzine does not provide notifications when a new issue is available, however that is a feature that they are adding shortly.  When that does happen, users will see a little red bubble with a number next to their journals. 

As cool as Browzine is, they don’t work with every publisher yet.  (Publisher availablity list here.)  Also Browzine won’t work with database provided journals.  So for example, journals you get full text through CINAHL aren’t going to be available through Browzine. Perhaps that may be why LWW is not on Browzine? (LWW requires institutions to access journals through Ovid.)  However, for databases like ClinicalKey, which is an Elsevier product and has all Elsevier journals, one has to wonder if that will be in Browzine or if it will be considered a CINAHL (ClinicalKey and Browzine are both so new who knows).  If it is considered a CINAHL then that would be a shame since some libraries may look at ClinicKey as their Elsevier journal provider. 

While Browzine currently only does journals, I can see where this type of easy access can be applied to ebooks.  eBooks suffer from much of the same silo content problems as ejournals.  Each publisher has their own way of displaying and providing access.  You have to bounce around from provider to provider to view the ebook on your iPad (or even your laptop).  There is no easy way to find and access ebooks for medical libraries.  Most of our users don’t know how to find ebooks.  They sometimes check the catalog, but even then that is only a brief snapshot of some of the titles available.  PMC titles and other ebook collections aren’t always in the catalog because you are either waiting for the MARC records from the provider (in the case of large aggregators like Clinical Key with hundreds of titles) or you are simply unaware of the latest title that was added to the online collection. 

If we could get our ebooks to display like Browzine displays ejournals, I will jump for joy and quite possibly stop my ranting on the inaccessibilty of ebooks in the medical library. 



Social Media Tracking Illnesses

Greetings! Happy 2013! This is the first full week after the holidays and I thought I would start off the new year right with a blog post. 

Hopefully you got your flu shot and weren’t hit with the flu bug that seems to have hit hard and early this year. We got a small stomach bug in the Krafty household.  Thankfully it was a 24 hr thing that was gone as quick as it came. 

Over the holidays while dealing with the stomach bug, I noticed a reference to a site that tracks illness via social media posts.  Sickweather.com, tracks self reported illnesses using social media.

“Just as Doppler radar scans the skies for indicators of bad weather, Sickweather scans social networks for indicators of illness, allowing you to check for the chance of sickness as easily as you can check for the chance of rain.”

Sickweather trolls the social media sites like Facebook and Twitter looking for when people post that they are sick.  Using the location based information from the social networks, they are able to map the illness. Their system supposedly is smart enough to differentiate between somebody saying, “I’m sick” and “I’m sick of the Browns losing.” (Interesting little fun fact: According to All Things D, “The company has found it must filter out messages with any mention of the word “fever” that also include the word “Bieber.”  Hee hee)  

There is one fairly BIG caveat.  The social information has to be publicly available.  Most people I know lock down their Facebook accounts which means their posts usually aren’t publicly available.  (I say usually because Facebook likes to change settings and some people like myself might find themselves posting publicly for a bit thinking they were posting privately.) 

Sickweather is an interesting concept, it isn’t the first time people have used the Internet to track illnesses.  In August of 2009 FluPortal (seems to be  no longer active) used the Internet to “collect and curate content from across public media as well as from trusted governement sources.”  They were using the reports from the news media and organizations like the CDC and WHO to build their outbreak maps.  It appears that Sickweather is the first company to use social media to track the spread of diseases.  (Others like Salathe and Christianini & Lampos for example, have studied the use of social media to track illnesses.)

Despite only having access to public social media updates, Sickweather claims to have declared the start of the flu season 6 weeks earlier than the CDC and may have dectected two whooping cough outbreaks.  Clearly there are enough people out there with public accounts (for example my Twitter feed is public but my Facebook isn’t) mentioning their illnesses to make for some interesting results. 

Several people have mentioned that you probably don’t want to rely on Sickweather if you have serious health concerns. Duh.  However, what I find interesting is the data.  There is a boat load of data out there ripe for the plucking and Sickweather is just another example of somebody finding and using the data.  There is already an overwhelming amount of medical data out there, and I’m not just talking about “I’m sick” tweets.  Data management is big right now.  Why? Because as I mentioned there is a ton of data out there.  Do a quick search on data management and librarian. The whole first page on Google retrieves pretty relevant results on data management and librarians, including information ARL’s Guide for Research Libraries: The NSF Data Sharing Policy (top result), MIT Libraries support of management & curation of the MIT community research data (second result), and a position description for a Data Management Librarian at Oregon State University Libraries (fourth result, the third result was a slide presentation). Data management has been mentioned several times during #medlibs chat sessions as an emerging role for medical librarians.   Margaret Henderson (@mehlibrarian) even stated “Data is the new book. That is where we need to go.”

So how are medical librarians positioned to deal with the onslaught of data?  How are library schools teaching librarians or information professionals to work with and manage data?  Or are we still playing around with our cataloging systems and copying the journals tables of contents and routing them?

Just seconds after this post went live I saw Kevin the Librarian’s post “A Data Management and Data Sharing Bibliography for Librarians” where he compiled a list of all the literature on data management a librarian would find useful.  He and his colleague @fsayre hope to have “Mendeley group where more librarians can join and share their experiences and ideas about working with data management.”  So if you are interested in learning more about data management, go to his site.