Monday, December 24, 2012

Evidence collections

This is one of the most important challenges facing Trip, one which I hope I can rely on your help.

How to help people use Trip to capture and publish evidence collections!?  Collections of evidence already exist and are typically time consuming.  Four examples:
  • ATTRACT - this is part of my NHS work.  Our team receives questions and finds appropriate evidence with which to answer it.  Relatively unstructured.
  • ATTRACT CME - a good example might be this review of obesity.  In this example it's a mixed collection of the latest evidence and background information.
  • BestBETs - these are reviews, based on questions arriving in emergency medicine, that tackle a single question.  In many ways these are similar to ATTRACT but are more structured.
  • Cochrane systematic reviews - these are highly structured collections of clinical trails. 
Non-health related collections are important and available, a few examples:

Summary: collections are everywhere and are clearly useful.

I see two issues in relation to Trip:
  1. Would Trip users like to make collections?
  2. If they do, what might it look like?
I think the answer to 1. is 'yes, assuming you can make it a rewarding and easy exercise'. 

But 2. is really problematic; how to create a product that looks great, is easy to use and facilitates the production of robust and useful reviews?  We can do a few clever things such as making it easy to group articles together, auto-reference and even suggest related articles.  But you're still left with the core problem - the middle of the collection - the actual content (sandwiched between title and references)?

I like the visual impact of something like pinterest (see another example from Doctors Without Borders).  Highly visual, so engaging.  The downside being there's not much space for text.   But again, I could see us allowing a user to pull in their documents of interest, annotating each article with the key point and then pulling it together with a summary and/or clinical bottom line.

At the top of the post I said this was the most important challenges to Trip, I believe it and I also believe if we get it right we will have created something hugely useful. 

So, if you read this and have any suggestions, no matter how silly/random you may feel they are, please let me know (via comment below or emailing me - jon.brassey@tripdatabase.com).  Often it just takes a few novel thoughts to unblock the creative process.  This perspective is exemplified by a comment I received at a Trip training session where a user said they would love to be able to 'tag' an article (or articles) saying these helped her answer a particular question.  In other words, she wanted to group articles together around answering a clinical question.  That simple request started all this thinking...!

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