Your road map to hot medical news on the Net
A guide to 10 top sites-and some time-saving tips on how to get there
From the November 1996 ACP Observer, copyright © 1996 by the American College of Physicians.
By Holly Epstein Ojalvo
One benefit of the information age is that news is never more than a few mouse clicks away. This is particularly good for physicians as news services, health care organizations and government agencies all get into the business of distributing medical updates. Everything from drug alerts, medical newsletters and journal article summaries are available on the World Wide Web-if you know where to look.
If you treat AIDS patients, for example, you can scan article summaries at the JAMA HIV/AIDS Information Center, read the "AIDS Weekly Plus" newsletter at the NewsFile site and search the CDC's National AIDS Clearinghouse database. For general health news, you can browse through stories at sites from Reuters Health, Nando Times and NewsPage.
Medical news is quickly becoming a big electronic business, with Web sites reporting that they receive up to 150,000 visitors per month. And while patients-not providers-may have taken the early lead in getting medical news on the Internet, physicians appear to be catching up. For example, 60% of the users of Doctor's Guide to the Internet, a site that provides daily medical press releases and summaries of new research, are health professionals.
Physicians are probably being lured by the potential time savings: Reading medical news online is faster than going through stacks of journals, say online users. But reading medical news on the Internet, can be time-consuming. Depending on where you live, the type of hardware you use and the time of day you go online, your connection may be sluggish and Web pages may load slowly. You can try to ease these connect-time woes by printing out the contents of your favorite Web sites and reading them later on hard copy.
Some time-eaters are harder to avoid. While medical CD-ROMs and programs like Grateful Med allow physicians to target their information searches, the search engines on most Web sites are far less precise. Your best bet is to find medical news sites that closely meet your needs and stick with them. To find the best medical news sites, use specialized medical indexes like Medical Matrix (http://www.slackinc.com/matrix/index.html) or HealthSeek (http://www. healthseek.com); general Web search engines like Yahoo! and AltaVista are of little use in finding specialty sites.
Perhaps the most serious challenge is knowing where to find quality information. "One must realize there is no Web editorial board to catch erroneous or outdated information," explained R. Hal Baker, ACP Member, medical editor of ACP Online, the College's online service.
With all that in mind, here are 10 good bets on where to find medical news that you need:
The American Medical Association (http://www.ama-assn.org) offers news items that include articles from its weekly newsmagazine, American Medical News; updates in the JAMA HIV/AIDS Information Center include abstracts of selected articles from leading journals accompanied by clinical commentary from an expert advisory panel. The site also offers current medical news from Reuters and the CDC.
The CDC National AIDS Clearinghouse (http://www.cdcnac.org) contains more than 20,000 abstracts of HIV/AIDS news and research articles from June 1988 to the present in its AIDS Daily Summary Database. The database is searchable by title, author, source, abstract, descriptor, date or full text. The site also contains a listing of more than 19,000 organizations that provide AIDS-related services, a funding database and other CDC resources.
Doctor's Guide to the Internet (http://www.pslgroup.com) offers press releases filed by date and subject in its Guide to Medical and Other News, while its PageOne section provides updates on the latest research published in the major journals. You can view PageOne information by specialty or receive an e-mail edition for $95 a year.
FDA News (http://www.fda.gov) offers an easy-to-navigate site that contains talk papers, bulletins on new drugs and other drug news, as well as other FDA information.
Medconnect (http://www.medconnect.com) divides medical news into internal medicine, pediatrics and emergency medicine as part of its Medical News at Your Desktop section. In the internal medicine section, a physician editor presents abstracts from newly published papers and poses questions about their content.
Medscape (http://www.medscape.com) brings together resources from several different areas to provide one-stop shopping for health care news. Daily headlines and articles on issues in clinical practice come from the Medical Tribune and Hippocrates. The site also contains FDA reports on drugs and technology, research news from government agencies, federal policies and clinical practice guidelines, and issues of the CDC's Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.
Nando Times (http://www2.nando.net/nt/health/) offers health stories that may be on the light side for physicians, but it's an easy way to stay on top of breaking medical news.
NewsFile (http://www.holonet.net/homepage/1a.htm) contains more than a dozen weekly newsletters on topics that include AIDS, cancer, hepatitis and women's health. Full text of the top stories is provided; the first 500 words of other stories are available. Text from the newsletters is also available in an e-mail edition.
NewsPage (http://www.newspage. com) is a general news site that features daily updates on topics like pharmaceutical news. To quickly scan this site's headlines, go to Achoo (http://www.achoo. com/newspage) and look for Healthcare Headline News. There you'll find headlines on topics like AIDS drugs, Medicare and Medicaid. To get the full story for most entries, simply click on the headline and you'll jump back to the NewsPage site.
Reuters Medical News (http://www.reutershealth.com/news) features clinical, pharmaceutical, epidemiological, legal and policy news. The site also contains a news archive from the Reuters news wire service.
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