Magazine article Information Today

Refining Your Online Medical Searching

Magazine article Information Today

Refining Your Online Medical Searching

Article excerpt

Steve Smith is vice president and editorial director for Medscape (, professional medical-information resource on the World Wide Web. His e-mail address is

Here's a user's guide to help you find your way around Medscape

On January 27th, Medscape ( launched a new interface that reorganizes the resources on its site, improves the speed of information accessing, significantly expands the kinds of medical information available, and sets the stage for ongoing creation of in-depth, expert-authored, state-of-the-art treatment tools in a multitude of medical specialties. While the new format is as intuitive as the designers could make it, there's nothing like a guided tour to really let you know what is available and where to find it. So, with the approval of the IT editors, I'm going to devote this column to providing a quick "how to" for most efficiently finding your way around Medscape, the largest collection of medical information resources on the Web. What's Your Specialty?

Medscape has 18 "home" pages, each of which focuses on a particular medical specialty or related interest, and which, in the main, have similar structures pointing to similar kinds of resources.

The home pages currently available are:

* Cardiology

* Gastroenterology


* Infectious Diseases

* Internal Medicine

* Molecular Medicine

* Managed Care

* Oncology

* Orthopedics

* Pediatrics

* Pharmacotherapy

* Primary Care

* Psychiatry

* Respiratory Care

* Surgery

* Urology

* Women's Health

Several more specialties will arrive as the year progresses. Each specialty and interest page is constructed to reflect the way clinicians typically look for medical information: 1) browsing for current understanding and updates in the field, 2) searching for specific information and answers in disease treatment, 3) looking for Continuing Medical Education (CME) offerings, and 4) searching for information related to medical practice and the profession.

Browsing for Current Knowledge

To stay current on what's happening in the specialty, these three pages are where you should start: Editor's Choice, Treatment Updates, and Conference Summaries. The home page for the specialty begins with Editor's Choice, which highlights newly posted articles, features, updates, and events. Immediately below the Editor's Choice you'll find an extended list of the most recently posted journal articles, followed by a specialty news area. The news comes in two flavors. On the left you'll find professional news stories for the specialty. To the right is a "what your patients are reading" section. This section keeps practitioners in the know about what their patients are hearing in the consumer media, and to help them be prepared to answer their patients' questions and concerns.

For Treatment Updates and Conference Summaries, look to the left of the Editor's Choice. Here, on every Medscape home page, you'll find a uniform list of clinical and professional resources organized into folders. The Treatment Updates folder is near the top of the list. Treatment Updates houses two kinds of reviews to keep the reader current on how new drugs, devices, procedures, and discoveries are changing clinical practice. Treatment Updates modules are expert-authored summaries of satellite symposia from medical meetings. These are CME offerings, discussing the implications of some of the newest clinical research in the specialty. Further down on the Treatment Updates page is a series of Expert Columns. Expert Columns are discussions on current topics by leading experts. The Treatment Updates folder is available in HIV/AIDS and Oncology, and is under development in other specialties.

In the Conference Summaries folder you'll be able to virtually "attend" sessions from professional medical conferences. …

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