A number of bloggers have highlighted the ‘sort of’ end (as of yesterday) of the NLH:

Over the years TRIP worked on a number of projects, first with the NeLH and then the NLH. Initially we provided a search solution, various bits of project work and finally on the Q&A service.

I’m wondering if the NLH is (or will be) considered a success or not. I remember, near the start of the NeLH, I saw Muir Gray discuss the aims of the site. He said something like people will have access to top quality material within 3 clicks. I don’t believe it came close to this. I also think the view of the NLH will be shaped by the success or not of NHS Evidence.

What does concern me about NHS Evidence is that it’s a search solution using accredited sources of information. I return to the theme of what do the users want? Do the people in NHS Evidence understand why people search for information?

Probably the most likely reason for a clinician to search NHS Evidence is because the have a clinical question. In an ideal world, if you have a question which would you prefer:

  • A list of 10-20 hyerlinks to accredited documents
  • An answer using the best available evidence

If you’re a busy clinician and you have a choice of asking a colleague (as we know most clinicians do) or searching and trying to find the answer from multiple documents human nature suggests the former is more likely. And most people will acknowledge the problematic nature of search.

This is not about me wishing to reinstate the Q&A service, this is about wanting to support clinicians to practice evidence-based healthcare. Give clinicians the answers they want, make their lives easier. The more barriers you place in the way of practicing with ‘best evidence’ the less likely it is to be practiced.

By the end of this month NHS Evidence will have launched with their super-duper new search engine. I genuinely hope they introduce some innovative features that we (at TRIP) can learn from. However, search is only part of the solution. From my perspective the sooner they realise that the better.

In saying farewell to the NeLH/NLH one name has gone unmentioned – Ben Toth. He was instrumental in setting up the NeLH and he achieved great things.

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