Trip Database Blog

Liberating the literature


October 2009

Community noticeboard

Another new feature that was released in the latest upgrade was a community noticeboard. This allows for people to send targeted messages to TRIP users. It’s free and easy to set-up. See the slideshow below (best viewed in full screen mode). We envisage it being used to highlight conferences, job and to even ask for help! However, we’re keen to see how people utilise the feature, so feel free to be imaginative!

Can (or should) TRIP be social?

I posted the following comment on twitter:

Is 1,020 people on TRIP the beginning of a useful social network? If so, how to proceed. If not, how big before a crtical mass?

To give some context the 1,020 people refer to those people who have signed up to My-TRIP. I also think using the term social network was wrong, too many associations.

That aside, I had three responses:

@markhawker: Depends what “links” you want to be made? i.e. what connects the nodes?

@CharlieNeck: we shall be the fellowship of the trip

@amcunningham: I think 100 early adopters of new trip may be useful people to know. What are your plans?

My initial post was just me thinking aloud. We’ve got > 2,100 people signed up, all with country identification, all saying what their clinical interests are and also what their profession is. As I see these accounts being set-up (I get an e-mail of each one) I just see lots of connections e.g. country connections, professional connections, speciality connections.

Can these connections be put to good use? Currently, these connections do not formally exist. No-one has requested that TRIP make the connections.

My own view is that users of TRIP are looking for information. If they cannot find the information can they ‘reach out’ via connections to try and obtain this information. Someone with a cardiology question could make a request for information to people with an interest in cardiology. Someone needs a geographically specific question e.g. what’s the best hospital for CABGs might ask cardiology interests in a particular country.

Is the above ambitious, not ambitious?

Might it be useful to offer:

  • People ‘like you’ are currently looking at these articles
  • People ‘like you’ who searched for asthma looked at these articles

I’m not convinced by the ‘like you’ notion or the usefulness of seeing what others are looking at.

I think this post demonstrates the very early stage of thinking on the matter. It might also highlight a lack of ambition. Either way, feel free to help give me a guiding hand!

Using CPD on TRIP

The CPD feature on TRIP is new, so we’ve created a simple walkthrough of how to use it (if the writing is too small, open in ‘full’ mode.

TRIP and Electronic Health Records (EHR)

A few months ago TRIP was approached by the manufacturers of a new EHR called Salutis Evidentia. They were keen to integrate their product with the evidence-base of TRIP. The natural way forward was to use our web-services and the results of this collaboration are close to being released. The image below shows you how the beta-version is looking.

What is happening is that when the doctor enters a diagnosis or treatment the system automatically searches TRIP and returns pertinent results. It’s a simple concept which works well and looks great. We think it’s a great feature and we’re excited to see TRIP used in such a way.

If you want further details just let me know via the comments section or e-mail me directly (

Feedback on the site

So far the site has exceeded our expectations. We’ve had nearly 700 people register on the site in the first week and the feedback has been overwhelmingly positive.

You may be pleased to know that we’ve got back to work with the next round to upgrades and tweaks to the site. Here’s what we’re planning:

  • Overhaul of the TRIP Answers site. We’ve never really been satisfied with the performance of the site, so now’s a good time to tackle that. It will also allow us to integrate enhanced CPD functionality.
  • CPD is increasingly important. So, as well as better signposting of our reflective CPD offering we’ll be releasing over 6,000 self-test CPD packs.
  • Twitter feeds. We’ll be working on a mechanism to link TRIP in with Twitter.
  • Background knowledge area. We’ve had lots of positive feedback but a few comments about the look and feel. So, we’ll be taking those points on board as well as increasing functionality and coverage.
  • Introducing a search wizard.
  • Semantic analysis. We’re working hard to bring a semantic analysis function (a similar principle is used in PubMed’s related articles feature). We plan to use this to help keep the TRIP Answers content up to date, experiment with free-text search and also to introduce a ‘follow this’ feature for each article. Basically, if you like an article you can follow it and any new, closely linked, articles are added to the site – we’ll let you know.

Feel free to comment on the above and also make any requests!

Crowdsourcing for developing nations – funding secured

About 6 weeks ago I posted Using crowdsourcing to identify content suitable for resource poor settings which generated some discussion. We found out on Friday that we had secured funding to get this project launched. It’s too early to say how long it’ll take but I don’t want to hang around on this important project.

Since the last post on the topic I’ve had a number of additional discussions around the topic and most of these revolve around placing this project within the context of other initiatives. I’ve spoken to a number of academics in the area as well as a great chat with HINARI.

If all things fall into place this could be the start of something rather wonderful.

Adding TRIP to your site

The TRIP Database allows users to embed a TRIP search box into their own webpages via a small piece of HTML (click here for further details). In addition a Cardiff GP (@amcunningham to give her twitter ‘handle’) has created a widget to use in Netvibes (click here). I don’t use Netvibes but it’s great to see TRIP being made available on different platforms.

3 days and all appears fine

The new site is out there and performing wonderfully. Lots of praise needs to be directed towards Phil (our web developer) who has done 95% of the coding on the new site. Usage has already increased and the site is taking it in its stride, returning results quicker than the old site. We’ve had nearly 300 people register for the My-TRIP feature already.

The new TRIP

The latest version of TRIP is out there and after 24 hours appears stable! So, what’s new:

  • New content. We’ve merged the former specialist search engines with the main TRIP which means TRIP searches the old content plus a core collection of 300 of the top clinical journals. We’ve also introduced a new type of content ‘News’.
  • Evidence slider. TRIP has always been keen to allow users to easily answer their questions using the best available evidence. The evidence slider allows user to easily select the level of evidence they require.
  • New design. Using a separate design agency and extensive usability testing (thanks Minervation) we have radically overhauled the site, making it more user friendly and simply better looking! We’ve even got a new logo.
  • Improved algorithm. The evidence slider has allowed us more freedom to enhance the algorithm, making the results even better than before.
  • Advanced search. This has been completely overhauled and should now work and work well!
  • Speed of search. We’ve dramatically improved the speed to TRIP by improving the way TRIP works and the extensive use of caching.
  • Better guideline filtering. As suggested by a number of people we’ve increased the number of guideline categories (from 3 to 5) and improved the labelling of guidelines from the USA (previously they were simply down as National Guidelines Clearinghouse.
  • CPD. Users will now be able to view articles in ‘CPD mode’ allowing them to easily record their reflecting on the article. This can then be stored in their ePortfolio (available via My-TRIP).
  • Export of records. Another popular request is to allow users to select articles of interest and then export them either via e-mail or as a file. The new TRIP supports this.
  • TRIP fails. Most search engines (medical or general) let their users down. Basically, a user can’t find what they’re after! To overecome this we’ve devised a number of solutions. Firstly, we’ve have provided a link to the American SumSearch with the same search carried out in TRIP reflected in the link to SumSearch. Secondly, the search on TRIP is sent to Google and the Google results are returned on the same results page as TRIP.
  • doc2doc forum. We have teamed up with the BMJ’s community forum doc2doc to provide an outlet for unanswered questions. If you’re a health professional and can’t find what you’re after, use the forum and someone may well help!
  • Background knowledge boxes (BKB). For our more common searches we’ve created BKBs which link out to core textbook-style content. This has been highlighted as useful as it can contextualise some of the research found in the main part of TRIP.
  • Medical images. TRIP has had medical images for years, but they’ve been badly represented and they weren’t particularly prominent. We’ve enhanced our coverage (now over 100,000 medical images), enhanced their display and introduced a sample of results on the main results page. NOTE: The medical images are currently being edited to remove some erroneous images, this will take a few months.
  • Community noticeboard. We’re excited by this as it allows our users to post notices of interest to other users. If you have a conference, job advert, volunteering opportunity, trial enrolment etc let other users of TRIP know (currently that’s around 35,000 visits per day). You can even target the adverts e.g. a conference on cholesterol could be targetted to those carrying out cardiology related searches. We’re not sure how this will develop, but we think it’ll be big!
  • My-TRIP. Users signing up to My-TRIP will be able to use the CPD functionality, create auto-searches of TRIP and search history. In addition we’ll be giving a proportion of our advertising revenue from those signed-in to My-TRIP to Médecins Sans Frontières and HIFA2015.

There’s probably more – but that’s enough for one post!

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