Medical Communication

Archive for the ‘Medicine’ Category

Accessing Evidence-Based Medicine

Posted by drneelesh on August 29, 2009

Accessing Evidence-Based Medicine: “There is discussion in blogs at the moment about the limits of Evidence-based medicine and how it may be impacted by web2.0 technologies. Laikas, a Dutch librarian, posted about this recently. Sarah Stewart, a midwife from NZ, replied by describing some of the difficulties faced by the public in accessing EBM and the resulting asymmetry of information between doctors and patients.

This reminded me of a You-Tube video I came across last year.

It is an interview Muir Gray, the NHS Chief Knowledge Officer (a post he first floated in 1998 in the BMJ), describes his view of the future of information in the NHS. Resources will be equally available to patients, (or to use his term, citizens) and to professionals. As a clinician and citizen I think this is an enlightened policy. I find much of the content on the NHS choices website very exciting, including Behind the Headlines. BtH gives an evidence-based critique of health stories in the press. I do not like Map of Medicine….. but more about that later:)

To illustrate some of the different sources of EBM available I am going to look at guidance on the management of stable COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease).

First of all here is the page from the BMJ’s Clinical Evidence site. I find this very unhelpful. If I wanted to know about one particular treatment and the evidence base, or lack of, for it’s use in the management of the condition, this would be useful. But it is not at all useful for a brief synopsis of how to manage the condition.

Next, Clinical Knowledge summaries COPD page. This has many different levels of information and takes quite a lot of clicking around. But it is likely to be useful to a clinician in a surgery. And probably to patients/citizens as well.

GP Notebook is in my experience a favourite of UK GPs. Looking at it’s info on the management of stable COPD it is clear that the guidance is related to the NICE guideline on the topic because it references the NICE guidance, and describes different steps for mild/moderate and severe levels of disease. This looks the easiest to access and most clinically relevant so far.

Lastly, we have the Map of Medicine stable COPD page. This annoys me on many levels. For one we are told under ‘indications for referral’ that this should be considered for severe COPD, but you have to go down to ‘follow-up care in severe disease’ to find out what the criteria for diagnosing severe COPD is.

What do you use to access EBM? Are different sites useful for different purposes? I’d love to hear your thoughts.

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Best channels for Consumer Health online

Posted by drneelesh on June 3, 2009

A large number of people are increasing turning to the internet for their information needs. But when it comes to online activity, everyone has a short attention span. Garnering potential audiences for medical content websites, and then retaining them is a big challenge. How do websites and other applications draw and hold consumers for long-form media like podcasts and video-downloads?


The Alexa ranking for two years, WebMD beats all other competition hands down, followed by everydayhealth.com. Allothers fare way behind these leaders in daily reach.

The important issues identified for
such patient or consumer centric multimedia medical websites are,


—high.quality.content

— Accuracy

—Individualization tools

— Good medical imagery

—short 2 minute animation /user experience videos.


Below are quotes by a few top online medical/patient education resources.

Nan Forte
EVP, consumer services, WebMD
(The WebMD )content staff blends award-winning expertise in medicine, journalism, health communication and content creation to bring you the best health information possible. Our esteemed colleagues at MedicineNet.com are frequent contributors to WebMD and comprise our Medical Editorial Board. Our Independent Medical Review Board continuously reviews the site for accuracy and timeliness. # Health news for the public,Creating and maintaining up-to-date medical reference content databases,Medical imagery, graphics, and animation, Communities, Live web events, User experience, Interactive tools

More consumers visit WebMD than any other health site in search of health information. Our editorial and programming teams work closely with our product and technology groups to create the appropriate balance of compelling content together with an engaging user experience. The high level of user engagement on WebMD can be attributed to the high degree of personalization combined with the mix of sight, sound and motion across our network. For example, video is presented as part of the integrated user experience. In the past year alone, we’ve seen an increase in the way consumers are interacting with long-form media. We credit our programming expertise and the fact that many of our visitors are engaged information-seekers who will take time to engage in relevant programming.

Michelle Johnson Manager, pharmaceutical public affairs, Abbott -(The podcast series shares insights and tips from health professionals regarding diet and nutrition, the emotional impact of the disease and its effect on relationships. Each Crohn’s Cast also includes a first-hand account from a person living with Crohn’s disease.)

Abbott’s decision to create its “Crohn’s Casts: Speaking from the Gut” series was about addressing the needs of patients by combining the right online tools with relevant topics. Each of the podcasts is under five minutes and shares insights from health professionals regarding diet and nutrition, the emotional impact of the disease and its effect on relationships, and accounts from people living with or impacted by Crohn’s disease. CrohnsOnline.com is a site dedicated to people with Crohn’s disease, a gastrointestinal disease that often strikes between ages 15-35. Since 50% of people with chronic diseases go online to find healthcare information, a podcast was a simple, creative vehicle for this young and web-savvy group.

David Best, President, The Doctor’s Channel- (site includes short one- to two-minute streaming video clips designed to get to the point, with insights and opinions from experts in 35 different specialties, as well as community and lifestyle features that help doctors stay on top of the latest news, ideas and information.)



I have found that the best way to draw and hold consumers is to sell them on the idea of shorter content that is packed with more information. The world is media snacking, getting their information in bite-sized bursts. Here at The Doctor’s Channel, we have decided that our best chance to grab the attention of the medical community is not to fight the urge for media snacking, but rather to embrace it. We offer the same content you would find in an 8-minute video, but we provide it in four segments, each 2 minutes long. More often than not, people end up watching all four segments anyway. So consumers end up viewing 8 minutes of content, but because it is presented to them in smaller doses, they are more engaged. But remember, no matter what the “dose,” interesting content is paramount!


Marjorie Martin SVP & general manager, Everyday Health Network (..help you manage your own and your family’s conditions and overall well-being through personalized advice, tools, and communities)


Online health users have a reputation for being impatient; however, it may be because they’re not finding what they need. Internet users are generally in search of answers to specific questions as opposed to casual browsing. When they find relevant content they stick with it. Audio and video perform best online when they’re specific to a condition and use the visuals and audio to provide important information. For instance, someone in search of content on weight loss surgery is more likely to view animation of the procedure and an interview with a former patient (including visuals of the scar) than watch video of two doctors sitting in a studio talking about it.

Related article

Based on a December ,2008 article in MMM-Online.com

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Best channels for Consumer Health online

Posted by drneelesh on June 3, 2009

A large number of people are increasing turning to the internet for their information needs. But when it comes to online activity, everyone has a short attention span. Garnering potential audiences for medical content websites, and then retaining them is a big challenge. How do websites and other applications draw and hold consumers for long-form media like podcasts and video-downloads?


The Alexa ranking for two years, WebMD beats all other competition hands down, followed by everydayhealth.com. Allothers fare way behind these leaders in daily reach.

The important issues identified for
such patient or consumer centric multimedia medical websites are,


—high.quality.content

— Accuracy

—Individualization tools

— Good medical imagery

—short 2 minute animation /user experience videos.


Below are quotes by a few top online medical/patient education resources.

Nan Forte
EVP, consumer services, WebMD
(The WebMD )content staff blends award-winning expertise in medicine, journalism, health communication and content creation to bring you the best health information possible. Our esteemed colleagues at MedicineNet.com are frequent contributors to WebMD and comprise our Medical Editorial Board. Our Independent Medical Review Board continuously reviews the site for accuracy and timeliness. # Health news for the public,Creating and maintaining up-to-date medical reference content databases,Medical imagery, graphics, and animation, Communities, Live web events, User experience, Interactive tools

More consumers visit WebMD than any other health site in search of health information. Our editorial and programming teams work closely with our product and technology groups to create the appropriate balance of compelling content together with an engaging user experience. The high level of user engagement on WebMD can be attributed to the high degree of personalization combined with the mix of sight, sound and motion across our network. For example, video is presented as part of the integrated user experience. In the past year alone, we’ve seen an increase in the way consumers are interacting with long-form media. We credit our programming expertise and the fact that many of our visitors are engaged information-seekers who will take time to engage in relevant programming.

Michelle Johnson Manager, pharmaceutical public affairs, Abbott -(The podcast series shares insights and tips from health professionals regarding diet and nutrition, the emotional impact of the disease and its effect on relationships. Each Crohn’s Cast also includes a first-hand account from a person living with Crohn’s disease.)

Abbott’s decision to create its “Crohn’s Casts: Speaking from the Gut” series was about addressing the needs of patients by combining the right online tools with relevant topics. Each of the podcasts is under five minutes and shares insights from health professionals regarding diet and nutrition, the emotional impact of the disease and its effect on relationships, and accounts from people living with or impacted by Crohn’s disease. CrohnsOnline.com is a site dedicated to people with Crohn’s disease, a gastrointestinal disease that often strikes between ages 15-35. Since 50% of people with chronic diseases go online to find healthcare information, a podcast was a simple, creative vehicle for this young and web-savvy group.

David Best, President, The Doctor’s Channel- (site includes short one- to two-minute streaming video clips designed to get to the point, with insights and opinions from experts in 35 different specialties, as well as community and lifestyle features that help doctors stay on top of the latest news, ideas and information.)



I have found that the best way to draw and hold consumers is to sell them on the idea of shorter content that is packed with more information. The world is media snacking, getting their information in bite-sized bursts. Here at The Doctor’s Channel, we have decided that our best chance to grab the attention of the medical community is not to fight the urge for media snacking, but rather to embrace it. We offer the same content you would find in an 8-minute video, but we provide it in four segments, each 2 minutes long. More often than not, people end up watching all four segments anyway. So consumers end up viewing 8 minutes of content, but because it is presented to them in smaller doses, they are more engaged. But remember, no matter what the “dose,” interesting content is paramount!


Marjorie Martin SVP & general manager, Everyday Health Network (..help you manage your own and your family’s conditions and overall well-being through personalized advice, tools, and communities)


Online health users have a reputation for being impatient; however, it may be because they’re not finding what they need. Internet users are generally in search of answers to specific questions as opposed to casual browsing. When they find relevant content they stick with it. Audio and video perform best online when they’re specific to a condition and use the visuals and audio to provide important information. For instance, someone in search of content on weight loss surgery is more likely to view animation of the procedure and an interview with a former patient (including visuals of the scar) than watch video of two doctors sitting in a studio talking about it.

Related article

Based on a December ,2008 article in MMM-Online.com

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Posted in Medicine, online, patient, Video | Leave a Comment »

-Distance education in Medical and paramedical sciences

Posted by drneelesh on March 9, 2009

An icon from the Crystal icon theme.Image via Wikipedia

In a developing country such as India, where an optimal level of health service is a dream to many, there are far too few health workers in training and the number of training institutions is far too few. To understand the gravity of the situation, there are more than 365,000 doctors, 264,000 nurses and 350,000 allied health professionals which includes Multipurpose Health Workers, Village Health Guide, etc. Whereas, proper training facilities exist only at a few institutions like National Institute of Health and Family Welfare (NIHFW), State Health and Family Welfare Training Centers. With a limited number of available training institutions, it is nearly impossible to train large numbers of medical officers and paramedical workers. Nearly 47 Health and Family Training Centers (HFWTC’s) and seven Central Training Institutes (CTIS) provide health and family welfare training to all categories of health functionaries in the country. These long-duration training programs attract a limited number of clients, and hence most of the institutions also organize in-house short-term training programs which has less than the desired impact on their functionaries.

Distance education is a relatively new concept which not only has the ability to train a large number of health care workers in a short time in a cost effective way but can also attend to skills of health care without diluting the quality.Distance teaching-learning often involves a multi-media approach to design, develop and implement independent learning programs through self-instructional materials, both in print and electronic media forms. Distance study allows self pacing for convenience and also facilitates learners having control over their learning. The various media used for distance education delivery include among others, print materials, audio and video programs, interactive multimedia content,radio and television programs, laboratory practicals, extended contact programs, and teleconferencing. Many of the required software are open source and easy to use, like Moodle.

The following issues need to be addressed and considered for successful application of distance education programs for health professions:

1. Since health sciences deal with life and death and are therefore are more skill-oriented (rather than more knowledge-based), it is felt that providing basic beginning or early training in the field of health may not be feasible through distance learning. Being an innovative and flexible system, and having the ability to respond to emerging training and educational needs, distance education is more appropriate for inservice training of health personnel.

2. The academic programs have been confined to a limited area of health education and training. In order to meet the diversified and emerging needs of health workers, the programs and courses have to go beyond medical graduates to include a wide variety of need-based functional areas ranging from simple awareness programs to more complicated skill-oriented courses on epidemiology and health economics.

3. Application of sophisticated communication technology has to be done cautiously, keeping in view clients needs, cost, media behavior and infrastructure and facilities at the receiving end. In the developing countries including India, audio and television programs seem to be more feasible and promising. Furthermore, multi-media packages need to include a large amount of hands-on and field experience.

4. An issue to be deliberated is the provision of student support services for health workers and professionals. While compulsory counseling and extended contact increase the effectiveness of programs, these on the other hand pose problems to both providers as well as the receivers of health education. More practical-oriented courses need to have compulsory built-in face-to-face components; and work centers or practice centers at grassroots level with required instructional provisions would be more feasible than regular study centers.

In conclusion, it is worth noting that distance education has tremendous potential for providing education and training programs to different categories of medical and paramedical personnel as a means of helping achieve the goals of HFA. In addition to the national agencies such as the Ministry of Human Resources Development, the Ministry of Health & Family Welfare and Indira Gandhi National Open University, international agencies such as WHO and UNICEF need to play increasingly prominent roles in facilitating the achievement of national and institutional targets. Proper use of ISRO provided satellite communication facilities can make distance education courses an important aspect of ongoing medical education.

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-mLearning in Medical Education

Posted by drneelesh on January 2, 2009

A Treo 300.Image via Wikipedia
Smartphones helping Medical Students » Mobile Computing News


Personalization of the learning process makes learning that much more enjoyable and interesting. The “One size fits All” just doesn’t work. AND Laptops are not the only way to deliver learning content.

Till now the smartphones were used to communicate effectively, browse the Internet, share data
and enjoy movies, music and photos. But for the first time these devices have been optimised to help medical students at the University of Louisville. This is all thanks to Sprint, which has signed the contract with the university and agreed to provide Windows Mobile smartphones, such as the Palm Treo 800w or the HTC Touch Diamond P3700, at discounted prices to university students. Using the wireless technology the students will be able to enhance their learning and improve their clinical treatments.

The special things about these smartphones is that they will come loaded with relevant medical applications like ePocrates and medical drug reference databases that can be used by the professors, medical practitioners and students to access the university e-mail programme and address.

Edward Halperin, dean of the School of Medicine said, “Sprint’s wireless technology will allow our students to access a virtual library of textbooks and medical references. We believe it is worth investigating whether or not giving medical students these tools and technology will enhance their knowledge and sharpen their decision making. Ultimately, our graduates will require these skills as outstanding physicians. It is important to assess the role of technology in the acquisition of clinical skills.”

According to Stephanie Ferguson, general manager of the Mobile Communications Business, Microsoft Corp, “The wireless industry is experiencing an incredible increase in smartphone adoption within specialized fields such as medicine. Students at the University of Louisville can get the most out of their medical education and professional careers through the use of our familiar, customizable Windows Mobile smartphones.”

Read my other posts on similar lines Here.

Help me win a similar device by clicking Here.


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–Virtual worlds in medical education–

Posted by drneelesh on October 12, 2008

The Faculty of Medicine at Imperial College London has developed a region in Second Life that aims to design game-based learning activities for delivery of virtual patients that can drive experiential, diagnostic, and role-play learning activities supporting patients’ diagnoses, investigations and treatment.

Second life cries out to be used as a medical education tool !!


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