Trip started as a service to support clinical question answering. Since then the site has changed dramatically but we still see clinical question answering as the main drive and focus.

But what happens if Trip lets a user down? In other words the user has a question, uses Trip and can’t find an answer! In the last two days we’ve received two questions from users:

  • EBM causation of intervertebral disc herniation?
  • Dexmedetomidine and brain protection: fact or fiction?

Now, I dare say the answer is somewhere in Trip and I imagine that terms like ‘brain protection’ may need clarifying. But, at the heart of it – for whatever reason – the users are struggling.

So, we return to the notion of using Trip’s community to help answer them. There is no doubt that there are people, who are registered on Trip, who will know about disc herniation and dexmedetomidine. They may well be able to easily answer these questions. So, why not send the Qs to those most likely to know the answer?

Well, you may have guessed it, but that’s the plan, to create a community Q&A system. There are a number of challenges, for instance:

  • Technology: linking the Q to those most likely to be able to answer them. We’ve engaged with an external company to work on this problem and we’re feeling very confident that good progress will be made.
  • User engagement: we know many people love Trip and we know we have many registered users (over 100,000) but will a large enough proportion be willing to help their fellow users? We’re thinking yes! But we need to communicate really well to explain what we’re doing and reduce any barriers to community involvement.

No timeline, but now we’re committed I’m hoping we can motor!