Medical Apps and Phones

The Cornflower had a nice post, Medical Apps for Smartphones, listing several Healthcare and Fitness applications as well as medical applications for the iPhone. 

The two most popular smartphones are the Blackberry (which many different styles and types of phones) and the iPhone.  Blackberrys are currently more accepted within healthcare because they were the originators of smartphone secure transmissions of email and data on networks.  Many hospital IT departments only allow employees to access the hospital email system using Blackberry devices.  The iPhone, however, is a fast up and comer.  Once described by a person within my IT department as a great “personal device,” is now seen in the library on the hips and hands of health professionals almost as much as the Blackberry.  With the release of Citrix Receiver Application for the iPhone, I think it is a just matter of time (and some big enough wig doctor in the hospital who has an iPhone) and we will be seeing iPhone support within hospital IT departments.

In the mean time there a lot of things to start considering for your library and your customers.  First you need to start thinking about re-designing your library web pages to be more mobile friendly.  Please for God’s sake when you do that include a link to the full octane website, there is nothing more frustrating than being stuck in a mobile site and the one darn link you need is on the regular full website.  Additionally, you need to start asking your vendors whether they have a nice mobile ready site.  How helpful is it for a patron to be using your nice slick mobile site on their phone only to click on a resource that is not mobile friendly that has flash (a big no no in the smart phone world)? 

Not only do you want to eventually create a mobile friendly website, but you might want to try and familiarize yourself with the two main contenders, the Blackberry and the iPhone.  The Blackberry is a little more difficult to familiarize yourself with just because there are so many different types of Blackberry devices and each have their own feel.  I know some people who love the Storm while others hate it with a passion, likewise with the Curve.  There is really only one iPhone.  I have had a few doctors ask me my opinion on both devices.  I tell them I am an iPhone user, but what they choose depends on a several factors. First their wireless plan, if they aren’t moving to AT&T then they aren’t going to have iPhone.  Second and almost as important, how important is it to receive work email?  If it is very important then until the hospital IT department decides they want to wake up and support the iPhone and hospital email, a Blackberry is the only choice.  If they are still undecided I tell them to go try each of the devices out.  They can go to almost any mobile store and play with several Blackberrys.  They can also go to AT&T and play with both Blackberrys and iPhones. 

You would think the inability to get work emails on the iPhone would make it less popular.  That might be, but I know of two staff physicians who specifically selected an iPhone because they liked the feel, how it functions and the various types of medical apps available.  I also see more and more medical professionals carrying iPhones these days than people carrying Blackberrys.  Perhaps this is because the iPhone has a pretty unique look and is easy to spot. 

Additionally, it would be helpful to familiarize yourself with the various medical apps and medical app vendors for the devices.  Two big companies that produce medical texts and resources for mobile devices are Unbound Medicine and Skyscape.  Both websites have resources and medical texts for the iPhone and Blackberry and both offer institutional access and pricing.   Collective Medicine is a site that sells medical resources for the Blackberry and PDAs, not iPhones.  The iPhone’s App Store has gotten somewhat better at organizing their vast collection of apps.  QxMD is a site that provides free medical calculators and clinical formulas.  They are developed for both the iPhone and the Blackberry.

Why should you create a mobile friendly website and ask library vendors if they have mobile friendly access?  Why is it important to know a little bit about the two main type of smart phones and where to find medical apps? Because more and more people are accessing websites from their phones.  According to a report by the Pew Internet & American Life Projectten years from now the mobile device will be the primary tool from most people to connect to the Internet.  That is 10 years from now, why should I care now?  In 2020 there won’t be some giant flick of switch and boom everybody has a smartphone and everybody is accessing the Internet.  The process will be a gradual flood.  The tide of mobile Internet users will continue to rise and not anticipating the rise will leave you treading water.  Already in the library I see more and more doctors, nurses, medical students, etc. whipping out their smart phone to look up things, to add due dates to calendars, to find email addresses.  Outside of the library I see even more people using mobile devices and accessing the Internet.

Friday Fun

I just discovered my new favorite blog.  So in the spirit of the upcoming weekend and in the belief that we all need a little humor in our lives I wanted to share it with you.  The blog focuses on articles retrieved within NCBI.  But unlike the very helpful blog, PubMed Search Strategies by Cindy Schmidt (mentioned on David Rothman’s site), my new favorite blog is a little more humorous. 

NCBI ROFL is a blog that posts the citations (and its abstract) to a real articles found in with PubMed.  However, they aren’t what you would think of as usual articles in the biomedical world.  In fact they post the unusual and often very humorous citations that they or others have found in the PubMed database.   “NCBI ROFL is the brainchild of two Molecular and Cell Biology graduate students at UC Berkeley,” and without their blog I would never have known that these articles were even in the medical literature let alone indexed in PubMed. 

Here are some of the posts, and true to the title of the blog they had me Rolling On Floor Laughing.

I want to thank Amy Blevins who posted a link on her Facebook wall to NCBI ROTFL, without it and the catchy vampire title (which is always sure to grab my SciFi geek eye) I would have never known about this site. 

(Update:) After looking around, I see that I must have been sleeping because both David Rothman and Laika wrote about this fun site back in June. 

Staying Connected and Social Media

Connie Schardt posted a brief synopsis of the May 2009 Section Council Report on MLA Connections.  Several of the sections are using various social networking tools to reach out to their members.  For example, the Cancer Section is working with societies to get their meeting abstracts available through Google Scholar and the Public Health/Health Administration Section stream cast their business meeting in Hawaii so that those who could not attend on site could still “attend.” 

Is your section doing something neat with the web site?  Let Melissa Rethlefsen know about it so she can include it on the Section Council web site.  If your library group (not an MLA Section) such a local organization is doing something interesting, please feel free to comment here so that we can learn from your experiences.

There are many ways that we can stay connected.  The MLA Social Networking Task Force is looking at the various ways that MLA members can be more connected with each other and with the organization.  As one of the members of the task force, I think I can say that we are approaching things from many perspectives to see what might be the best fit for our organization.  We are looking at what other similar organizations, like ALA, are doing as well. 

The possibilities are exciting, interesting, and yes, a little scary too.  As we move through this new method of communicating, I can’t help but remember when email first emerged on the scene.  I was not a librarian at the time (perhaps somebody who was can leave a comment what it was like to be a librarian when email hit), but I remember going to the computer lab sitting at a dumb terminal with a green flashing cursor emailing a few people here and there.  I remember meeting new friends, giving them my email and seeing their quizzical looks. Who knew a few years late that I would have more than one email address, share pictures and jokes with friends and family, and *gasp* buy things online?!  I also would never have guessed it would be simpler to email my husband at work about picking up the kids from daycare than it would be to get him on the phone. 

Some of these communication tools and methods are going to be as standard as email.  It will take some time, but it will happen. I never would have guess gopher would have evolved to the web as it is today.

ROI of Social Media Free Webinar

I apologize for the tardiness of this alert, I usually try and feature free webinars ahead of time but I didn’t find out about this one until early this morning. 

Are you interested in using a few social media tools but your are unsure of how what their impact will be and whether they will be effective for your library?  You might consider registering for this free seminar which will be Thursday August 13th at 10:00am PDT (1:oopm EST).

As librarians are investigating different social media applications it is important that to remember that these things must be evaluated like any other library service or resource.  Just don’t adopt it and continue for technology sake, they are tools that we all must use effectively.  While a wrench might bang a nail into place in a pinch, it certainly isn’t the best tool for the job.  Just because your library has a Twitter feed or Facebook account doesn’t mean those are the best tools for you needs, you need to track how they are being used and their success. 

Meeting Description: (from the website)
You understand how to track the success of your programs, but when it comes to social media you’re at a loss. How do you show that this new technology is something worth the staff time invested? If you are interested in implementing a social media program (Facebook, Twitter, Flickr, Digg) but are unsure how to measure the impact or know what success looks like, attend this free TechSoup Talks webinar. Kami Griffiths will interview John Haydon and Chris Garrett to learn more about the impact we can expect to see from these tools, how it can be tracked, and how to adapt to get the most return on your investment.

This webinaris best suited for people new to social media or interested in learning how they can talk about this topic with their Board or Executive team. This will not discuss the specific tools or how they work, but will focus on how to measure their impact. For an overview of social media, watch this TechSoup Talks webinar: Basics for Beginners: Getting Started with Social Media Tools

NLM Associate Fellows

The National Library of Medicine has a nice page announcing the future plansof the 2008-2009 Associate Fellows.  These four librarians have worked on a variety of projects in MEDLINE, environmental health mapping systems, next generation discovery interfaces, citation analysis, outreach, teaching, website development, and optimization of MedlinePlus. 

The Associate Fellowship Program is a one year (with optional second year) post graduate training program designed to provide a broad foundation health sciences and information services.   You can see the list of Fellows for 2009-2010

For more information go to the Associate Fellowship Program’s website which has application information, FAQs, and a previously recorded webinar about program.

Journal Prices and Your Library

Soon after MLA’s Ad Hoc Committee for Advocating Scholarly Communications published the list of various journal publishers who have frozen or dropped the price of their 2010 subscriptions, a discussion sprouted on the liblicense email list about whether that list or other publishers’ pricing breaks during this economy would influence whether they kept a journal.  Also discussed were the 2010 prices for Springer and Elsevier titles some of increased by 5% while others increased by 25%.  Basically the discussions centered around the impact of price on librarian’s decision to keep or dump a journal. 

Scott Plutchak summed it up nicely on his blog, it is not a matter of value and whether librarians or publishers believe a publication is worth a certain amount but is a matter of how much money you have.  

Scott’s phone conversation with Elsevier rep on value of their collection:

“If  Lynn and I go down to Jim & Nick’s for dinner, we might spend $50 and have a really good meal.  If we go to Hot n’ Hot, I might spend $200 for an exceptional experience.  I might feel that the $200 actually represents a better value overall, but if all I’ve got to spend on dinner is $20, the comparison is irrelevant.   The point is, I’m just not willing to spend what you’re asking, no matter how valuable you tell me the content is.”

As we all are looking at our budgets and trying to figure out what journals to keep and what to drop while working with a finite amount of money.  There will be casualties.  Some journals are easy to cut, these are the ones that have gotten little to no usage.  I am also starting to see more of the sacred cow type of journals falling more and more into the cut category.  At one point in time librarians used to think they couldn’t cut a certain journal because it was deemed to be too important/valuable.  That feeling is out the window.  I am in the middle of helping another librarian out with her journal cuts this year.  She selected some very big titles for the chopping blog, such as Lancet.  The reason, nobody was using them and they would save over $21,000 if they dropped them.   Let me just state, this library is a heavily used library that also has electronic journals.  If nobody is using the journal there is a reason and it is not because the library is antiquated and unused, because other titles are being used heavily. 

So, the little used journals are getting cut regardless of their perceived value, but what about those journals on the cusp?  For those journals, does it matter whether their publisher is on the price freeze list?  Even if you have the money, for all of your cusp journals does future pricing mean that much that you would cut a cusper whose publisher isn’t on that list?

I think we are in the midst of some very interesting times.  I understand that for profit companies owe it to their share holders and employees to make a profit, but you can’t expect to go into this kind of economical market with a 25% price increase either. In the end it will be us who help determine the future of journal pricing.  Unfortunately we haven’t been very good our price “negotiations” so far.  As Scott said ” The major commercial publishers have done a very good job of betting that when push comes to shove, librarians will always come around, no matter how much they fuss.”

What do the 2010 journal prices mean for your library and how will you negotiate it with the budget?

PubMed Redesign Summary

The PubMed redesign online meeting was very popular.  Max Anderson has a very nice summary on The Cornflower.  It includes links to the video, Power Point slides, and the NLM Technical Bulletin.

Don’t forget the Western half of the country’s session will be on August 11, 2009 11:30 – Noon Pacific time (12:30 – 1:00 Mountain, 10:30 – 11 Alaska).  There will be a reminder to the HLIB-NW listserv on August 10th about the presentation and we look forward to seeing you there! Go to Dragonfly for more information.

PubMed Redesign Meeting

I sat in on the PubMed Redesign online meeting today.  If you weren’t able to sit in on the session or had audio difficulties they recorded and it will be  is available to view.

David went through the slides that he showed at the MLA conference in May.  Details are in the June 2009 issue of the NLM Technical Bulletin.  The changes to PubMed will probably happen sometime mid September and they hope to have a 2 week preview before things really go official. 

David covered a lot of information in his slides and there were a lot of good questions after his presentation.  I tried taking notes as we went along but there was so much information and so many good questions that I will have to view the video again.

But this is what I have learned and remembered so far:

  • Advanced Search page will not be change
  • Citation Matcher will stay but will only be available from Home Page and Advance Search
  • My NCBI might change names to Preferences
  • Library icons will/should display in right hand corner with rest of full text icons
  • Details will only be available from Advanced Search :(

From the chat box it seems that there are many librarians who want Details to be available on many/all screens not just Advance Search.  They also want the option to link to the Advance Search directly instead of the PubMed home page.  Since most of the “cool” or helpful things like Details, History, Citation Matcher are only available from the Advanced Search, many people may want to have a nice short cut straight to that area. 

Once the link to the recording for the is up I will post it.  The recording can be found at

I also plan to post the link for the West Coast session as well.  I think watching the two sessions will be helpful because different important questions might be asked at each of those sessions.

Don’t Forget PubMed Re-Design Online Meeting

At the 2008 Annual MLA Meeting, the NLM Online Users’ Meeting  had a preview of the upcoming PubMed redesign. Tomorrow (August 8th  5th), David Gillikin, Chief of NLM’s Bibliographic Services will once again provide a preview for anyone who did not get to attend the user meeting in Honolulu. David will present a brief web-based update on PubMed interface changes and will review the draft design for the new search results page and abstract view presented at MLA.  

To join the meeting:

When:  08/05/2009 2:00 PM (EST), 1:00 pm (CST)

Sign in as a Guest with your first and last name.

After joining the meeting, you can let the system call you for the  audio. If you need to manually dial into the meeting: Dial-In:  1-866-846-3997 Pass-Code: 974772

 This session will be recorded for those unable to attend.

If you have never attended a Connect Pro meeting before:

Test your connection:

For those of you living in the Western half of the country it will be on August 11, 2009 11:30 – Noon Pacific time (12:30 – 1:00 Mountain, 10:30 – 11 Alaska).  There will be a reminder to the HLIB-NW listserv on August 10th about the presentation and we look forward to seeing you there! Go to Dragonfly for more information.

The PubMed changes and redesign drew quite few reactions from the MEDLIB-l community (especially the Citation Matcher issue) so it important for everyone (even you die hard Ovid users) to attend.  Changes may impact you or users in ways you never thought about.  I encourage you to pass this along to your colleagues who might not be subscribed to the listservs or who aren’t big blog readers (feel free to cut and paste this post in an email).

Elsevier’s Reaction to the Libraries and the Economy

Roy Jakobs, Director Academic and Government Sales and Marketing, wrote Supporting Libraries in a Challenging Economy discussing how the current economic crisis affecting academic and government institutions is also affecting Elsevier.  It has an impact on libraries and institutions world wide.  “One thing for certain is that these are unique and challenging times for both our customers and Elsevier.” 

Elsevier has decided to do two main things to help customers through the economic crisis. 

1. They are doing moderate price increases for 2010.  Some journal subscriptions will decrease in cost while other will increase. 

2. Elsevier will work with institutions individually “to find solutions for academic customers whose budgets are suffering from the current economic crisis.”

(This piece was written by the Director Academic and Government Sales and Marketing, so hospitals were not mentioned.  One hopes the two things he mentions will be also instituted to hospital customers as well.)

I know some of you are already rolling your eyes about idea of Elsevier “helping” libraries.  Well yeah, be skeptical, I didn’t say they were going to be giving us money.  For each institution the proof will be in the pudding.   However, what I find interesting about this statement is that it allows us to hear what one for profit library vendor is doing in this economy with its products and customers.  In previous posts I have linked to MLA’s Ad Hoc Committee for Advocating Scholarly Communications list with the various journal publishers who have frozen or dropped the price of their 2010 subscriptions.  One person commented on Facebook or Twitter (I can’t remember) that the list contained mainly society publishers and non profit publishers.  Well unfortunately that is probably going to be the case with most of these types of lists.  While I certainly don’t agree with every for profit company’s decisions, we have to remember that many of them like Elsevier, Wolters Kluwer etc. are beholden to their share holders first (if they are a publicly held company).  That is business.  That sometimes irks us a librarians because we don’t always like to think of profit and business and libraries.  It seems to get in the way of our mantra of providing information to the public.  My brother, a venture capitalist, and I have had many debates over a few cold beers about these sorts of things. 

These companies have not only the economy to deal with but they also have to make a profit selling to non profit entities, not always an easy nor favorably viewed job.  I know of several companies (I am not thinking of library related companies) that really don’t want to sell to non profits, or they certainly don’t pursue non profit companies as clients. 

So while we librarians might disagree with many of the decisions some our for profit resources providers have made recently and in the past, expecting them to behave (price and negotiate) like a non profit or a society publisher is not realistic.  I am one of the first people to complain about a company(ies) questionable pricing (especially if it seems like gouging) and unfair usage restrictions, but I also have to remind myself that not everyone is going to be able to bite the economic bullet as much as others.  Don’t forget there were quite a few society and non profit publishers who weren’t on that list too.

What I think would be helpful is if there were more statements or press releases like this from other companies (for profit and non profit) stating their direction and how they intend to handle this economic crisis within their company and with their customers.  Maybe I am weird but I want to know what other companies are doing in this economy, how will my budget be affected, what can I expect in general from Company X.  Of course not only do they need to make a statement, they should stick to their message.  A company stating they will only raise prices 5% yet actually raise them 125% won’t help me with my budget planning and they will be the first thing I look to cut as soon as possible.