How to make medical RSS aggregators better

The Problems with RSS

For some reason, RSS has not caught up with most physicians. My Google Reader is loaded with 350 RSS feeds that produce about 2,500 items per day, but I understand that this is not for everybody. We are too busy and it turns out that RSS concept is not that easy to grasp. Assembling RSS feeds in a reader takes time and effort.

Make Your Own "Medical Journal" with iGoogle Personalized Page


Make Your Own "Medical Journal" with iGoogle Personalized Page.

Two years ago, I described how you can Make Your Own "Medical Journal" with iGoogle Personalized Page and provided easy links to the feeds of the "Big Five" medical journals.

Since then, several medical RSS aggregators have launched that make the process of utilizing RSS for staying up-to-date much easier and even enjoyable.

PeRSSonalized Medicine by Webicina

PeRSSonalized Medicine by Webicina.com was one of the first services (but not the first) to arrange the medical journal feeds in a visually appealing way and make RSS consumption user-friendly.


PeRSSonalized Medicine by Webicina.com.

Kudos to Berci for achieving a significant user adoption which is not an easy task. Webicina.com also includes a feature which I call "create your own feed from PubMed search." There are no specialty-specific pages yet.

AllTop RSS-powered Magazine Concept

AllTop has condition-specific pages but most of them are geared toward the general public rather than health professionals, for example, see Alltop - Top Asthma News.


Alltop - Top Asthma News.

ClinicalReader for RSS

ClinicalReader WAS a medical RSS aggregator which launched at the end of June 2009. The service had a simple and easy to understand interface which was attractive and showcased the great benefits of using RSS to gather medical information.


ClinicalReader.com.

One of the best features of ClinicalReader was the specialty-specific pages which were very useful.

Updated on 07/14/2009: Apparently, the team of ClinicalReader advertised unverified endorsements on the website and had serious credibility issues with some prominent medical librarian bloggers. The service was discontinued soon after that. If interested in more details, please see the links below:

Clinical Reader: Starry ethics fail. Eagle Dawg Blog.
Malicious or stupid? You decide. Either way it doesn’t reflect well on Clinical Reader. (The) health informaticist.
Clinical Reader: from zero to negative sixty with one bogus threat. Steve Lawson.

Suggestions how to make medical RSS aggregators better

- Make a list of top 30 medical blogs. A top 10 or 15 list is too limiting and leaves many useful blogs out. A top 50 or a top 100 list is a "crowd" and few people will check all of them. Most of the leading blogs would be captured in a top 30 and the list would be manageable. This is really a "beginner reader" list which encourages them to explore further. There should also be lists of specialty-specific blogs (see more below).

- Make a list of top 30 medical Twitters.

- Make a list of the top blogs in each major specialty, for example, cardiology blogs, allergy blogs, etc. Be sure to separate physician/nurses blogs for those authored by patients. These multiple specialty-specific lists should be as inclusive as possible. See an example. Give a chance to everybody to be listed, even the A-bloggers were Z-bloggers when they first started. This way nobody should feel left out. Please include a list of medical librarians too - few people have contributed more to educating physicians about the benefits of Web 2.0 tools.

- Make a list of the top Twitters in each major specialty, for example, cardiology, nephrology, allergy, etc. This is a list of the "Top Twitter Doctors as a spreadsheet-wiki open to anybody to edit:



The suggestions how to make medical RSS aggregators better apply to all major medical journals. Users want a one-stop shop for medical information (see my notes from the NEJM Horizons conference for reference). BMJ already has a social network (doc-2-doc) albeit one that is scarcely populated. It would be easy to add a medical RSS aggregator as part of the social network. Lancet, NEJM, and JAMA should do the same.

It looks like "printed media" is going out of business fast and unless Kindle replaces it, not many people would be willing to visitto 7-10 different journal web pages to get the information the need. All major journals that are likely to survive, especially the ones funded by medical societies, will most likely have social networks or at least a medical RSS aggregator. The networks should be open, allowing easy export/import, and using Twitter/Google/Facebook Connect, etc. to avoid the need to remember more user names/passwords.

References:
Make Your Own "Medical Journal" with iGoogle Personalized Page
Lists of Medical Bloggers and Twitters Categorized by Specialty
NEJM Horizons Conference to Push Boundaries of Traditional Medical Publishing, Day 1

8 comments:

  1. Great resource, Ves! Thanks for putting this together.

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  2. Great post Ves - I think Clinical Reader may well be on to something.

    My initial reaction was that it wasn't customizable enough, not nearly as powerful as using Google Reader, for instance.

    Yet I think it may provide an accessible interface for use by mainstream clinicians. I look forward to seeing how widely adopted it becomes.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Thank you for your comments.

    ClinicalReader looks promising. Agree with you - will see if it becomes more widely adopted by doctors.

    I am certainly planning to use it to keep up with the allergy and immunology journals. For general medical journals, will stay with the "big 5" in my Google Reader.

    ReplyDelete
  4. Yet another great resource thanks @DrVes
    Agree with Clinical Reader, looking a simple way to keep up with the Emergency Medicine field which is often under represented.
    The aim is to get the mainstream clinicians more engaged with the advances in information distribution to stimulate more debate and accelerate the education and sharing process.

    Thanks again for your ongoing contribtion to this space

    Sandnsurf

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  5. "The aim is to get the mainstream clinicians more engaged with the advances in information distribution to stimulate more debate and accelerate the education and sharing process."

    An excellent summary. Thank you for your comment.

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  6. Ves, how do you write a post about Medical RSS Aggregators and leave out MedWorm?

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  7. David,

    Thank you for your comment.

    Medworm is way more than a simple interface RSS aggregator and as such was beyond the scope of this short review.

    However, thank you for pointing out to this valuable resource: http://www.medworm.com

    ReplyDelete
  8. Alas, Medworm customized RSS feeds are no longer available. They say, "Unfortunately, due to lack of funding and ever increasing popularity, MedWorm customised RSS feeds have been disabled for the moment. You can still find lots of precompiled RSS feeds by browsing MedWorm, for many medical conditions and specialities, which are free to use. Customised RSS feeds will likely return shortly as a subscription service. We apologise for this inconvenience. Unfortunately this move has been unavoidable due to limited resources as the MedWorm server can no longer cope with demand and there are no funds to increase processing capacity at this time."

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