Tuesday, March 31, 2009

HIFA 2015

I've been following the campaign Health Information for all by 2015 for over a year now and earlier today had a good chat with Neil Pakenham-Walsh, the coordinator of the group. The aim of the campaign is

"By 2015, every person worldwide will have access to an informed healthcare provider"

A huge ask but interesting to hear of the progress and problems from Neil. The main point of our conversation was to explore how HIFA 2015 and TRIP can work together. It was a fruitful chat and we're both passionate about what we do. I'm pleased to say that we'll be working together in the near future and hopefully, with the launch of the new TRIP site in July 2009 will see opportunities for TRIP to provide financial support to HIFA 2015 to help them achieve their aims.

In the interim, visit their site and sign up!

Friday, March 27, 2009

Wednesday, March 25, 2009


We have just added the reports from Orphanet to TRIP. Orphanet is a website dedicated to improving the quality of care for people with rare diseases. We've added links to just over 600 rare conditions and these will be searchable by the start of next week.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Conflict of Interest and JAMA

A truely bizarre/shocking story about a COI incident involving JAMA. This article reports it very nicely.

Twitter has been alive with chat about this - see here.

Monday, March 23, 2009


Internet Explorer is now available as version 8 (IE8). Unfortunately, as is so often the case, the new technology causes parts of the site to break. Fortunately, the breaks do not appear appear to be too severe and no massive rush to fix them - but they will get fixed!

Friday, March 20, 2009

Next upgrade to TRIP

Work will shortly be starting on the next upgrade to TRIP. There are currently 19 separate projects as part of this upgrade and work should be completed by the start of July. The main pieces of work include:

  • Improved speed
  • Significant enhancement of CPD/CME capabilities
  • Overhaul of 'My-TRIP'
  • Incorporate a new design for the site using, for the first time, a specialist external design agency
  • Creation of a 'New/Newsworthy' section
  • Integrate extra content (moving content from specialist TRIP's into the main TRIP search)
  • Creating a background knowledge box
  • Create an export facility (send via e-mail or export as a .txt file)
  • Improvement to the search algorithm
  • Improve medical images

As these pieces of work are completed and tested internally I'll blog in more detail about each feature.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Monthly update

The latest update of new content on TRIP is now searchable - a total of 453 records have been manually added plus a similar amount automatically added.

Sunday, March 15, 2009


I like to think that TRIP has developed a powerful brand name. Equally importantly the brand name appears to evoke a high level of fondness. So much so we decided to protect our brand and last year applied for a trademark. We have just been notified that this has been granted. In the future, should someone try to use the name TRIP in the medical sphere, we have a high level of protection.

Sunday, March 08, 2009

Answers not results

Interesting quote from a recent interview with Marissa Mayer (Google) taken from this TechCrunch interview:

Question: Is it fair to say that search is in its infancy.

Answer: Very much so. It was interesting for our engineers to see that early index and see how far we’ve come in ten years. But when you think about what would be the perfect search engine, what is an answer as opposed to a result? Why are we handing you just links and URLs? You know, what does it mean to try and synthesize a video or an image or a diagram that better explains your answer or maybe even grabs facts from all the different pages and helps you do comparisons. There’s just a lot of different things we can do.....

I've highlighted the bit that grabbed my attention and it follows a theme I've blogged before (click here to see a post from 20th Nov 2008). Basically, search engines do not answer questions, they post results.

Would clinicians (or other search engine users) want answers or search results?

Until people realise the difference between the two and realise their users want answers not results I'm afraid the aspirations will be limited. Our, modest but expanding attempt, at supplying answers (see TRIP Answers) is doing really well, but it has less than 6,000 answers. Having 100,000 clinical Q&As quality marked and easily searchable is the challenge. The irony is the 'answers' are in all the documents that exisit. Take CKS guidelines, these are very long documents (too long for clinicians to easily navigate) that must contain over 100 clearly defined Q&As and with around 200 guidelines that's around 20,000 Q&As (from experience CKS answers the questions GPs have, it's by far and away the best resource). Another example is the Green Book (the Government's document on immunisation practice), there are 25+ chapters and each has over 15 clearly defined Q&As within them.

Here's hoping that people start to understand - soon - the difference between results and answers.

Friday, March 06, 2009

Guide to Biostatistics

Another great find via twitter:

Guide to Biostatistics

"Here is a compilation of important epidemiologic concepts and common biostatistical terms used in medical research. You can use it as a reference guide when reading articles published on MedPage Today or download it to keep near the reading stand where you keep your print journals. For more detailed information on these topics, use the reference list at the end of this presentation."


I've had a good relationship with ARIF for years and they're kind enough to send me their links (saving me having to do it). As I was carrying out the upload I noticed that ARIF has the lowest publication ID. Each publication is given an ID and ARIF's is 8 (Cochrane = 14 and Bandolier = 9) we're currently up to around to publication IDs in excess of 1,100!

Ultimately, these IDs are meaningless to users but it does show the length of relationship!

Tuesday, March 03, 2009

TRIP around the world

I started this 3-4 years ago and kept it up for a few months, then workload pressures made me stop updating it - so I forgot about it - until now! It's a great visualisation of the the contacts we have and I hope to be more diligent in updating it in the future! To view the map click here, alternatively, I've embedded a smaller version below.

View Larger Map

Sunday, March 01, 2009

OTC cough medicine for children

I was intrigued when I saw the headline on the BBC News 'Child cold drugs under scrutiny'. The article reports:

"A review by the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) found "no robust evidence" that many popular remedies work in children."

I was intrigued as I thought - this is old news! I did a quick search on TRIP and found the 2008 Cochrane Systematic Review 'Over-the-counter medications for acute cough in children and adults in ambulatory settings'. This concluded:

"There is no good evidence for or against the effectiveness of OTC medicines in acute cough. The results of this review have to be interpreted with caution due to differences in study characteristics and quality. Studies often showed conflicting results with uncertainty regarding clinical relevance. Higher quality evidence is needed to determine the effectiveness of self-care treatments for acute cough."

I was also convinced we'd answered a question on it, so search TRIP Answers and found this Q&A from 2006 'Is there any role of cough mixture in treatment of cough?' which found an earlier version of the above Cochrane Systematic Review - from 2004.

So, since at least 2004, it has been explicitly stated that there is no evidence for OTC cough medicines.

The biggest question for me is not 'Why the interest by the MHRA now?' but the more important 'Why no interest until now?'