Friday, September 28, 2007

Web Resources for Clinical Medicine

Langhorne Waterhouse, manager of the Erlanger/UTCOM Medical Library, is contributing some useful Web resources. While perhaps not exactly Web 2.0, these are very good Web sites. List of Medical Wikis

Wikis can be problematic and their information can be suspect, however, many examples (e.g., AskDrWiki and Ganfyd) are written by clinicians for clinicians. As such, they can prove invaluable in finding nuggets of clinical information.

Centre for Evidence-based Medicine

This recently revamped Website has a large collection of resources related to answering clinical questions, from asking a focused question to finding and appraising the evidence.

ClinicalQuestions Collection

This large collection of “real” questions posed by health care providers in clinical settings is funded by the National Library of Medicine. Unfortunately, no answers are provided, but the site offers a list of real-world clinical questions. The intention is to generate a rich set of questions, thereby fostering research in these areas.

Database of Uncertainties about the Effects of Treatments (DUETs)

This database is an interesting attempt to record clinical uncertainties with a view to improving both primary and secondary research procurement. Created and run by Iain Chalmers, one of the founders of the Cochrane Library, it identifies research studies that are relevant to a question.

Monday, September 3, 2007

Summer Hiatus is Over – It’s Time for a Second Life

When I started this Blog last year, I knew that at some point I would want to talk about Second Life. Second Life is an amazing online virtual reality environment. It is simulated 3-D and has the look and feel of a game environment. In my opinion, a virtual reality world like Second Life may become on of the truly significant advances in the way we teach and learn. However, I must admit that I have had some reticence about sharing my interest in Second Life (also known as SL) for three reasons: 1) it is sometimes difficult for some to see the value or utility of this immersive, 3D virtual world, 2) it is not available to all as it requires a decent PC and some networks, including Erlanger's, have SL blocked, 3) finally, it is just simple a bit weird. No. it’s actually very weird.

However, I encourage you to look at SL from the perspective of its power as a learning environment. Second Life has established itself in virtual classrooms for major colleges and universities, including Harvard, Vassar, Pepperdine, Drexel, Rice, University College Dublin, Elon University, Ohio University, Ball State, New York University, University of Houston, and Stanford University. And, there are some significant applications that have been developed specifically for healthcare education.

A great deal of information on educational applications in SL can be found at SimTeach, the official Second Life Education Wiki. Second Life is a 3-D virtual world entirely built and owned by its residents. SL was first opened to the public in 2003. I started with creating my avatar – this is a character one creates to enter SL - on March, 2006 and there were approximately 350,000 residents who had already joined. Today, it has grown explosively and is inhabited by a total of 9,258,210 Residents from around the globe.

Check this out – but not at Erlanger. Look for me by searching for my avatar, Lorenzo Stork.

Thursday, June 14, 2007

CarePages – Erlanger’s Own Web 2.0 Tool for Patients

Erlanger now offers a great Web 2.0 tool for connecting our patients to their families and friends. CarePages is a service that creates free, easy-to-use Web pages that help family and friends communicate when a loved one is receiving care. In simple terms, CarePages, through Erlanger’s partner Revolution Health, can change a patient’s healthcare experience. CarePages will create a virtual meeting place on the Web where people can share news and photos as often as needed. Erlanger has good company in the use of CarePages. Other medical facilities that use this system include the Cleveland Clinic, UCLA Medical Center, Children’s Hospital Boston, and the City of Hope.

When a loved one is hospitalized or receiving care, it can be difficult to communicate the situation to all those who might care be concerned. With CarePages, updates are shared via email automatically and visitors can leave messages for the patient and family on the Web page. Patients and their loved ones receive emotional support during a time of need through the Photo Gallery for captioned pictures as well as the Message Board for messages of support.

Since security and privacy in the hospital environment are essential, CarePages claims the most complete online protection and security of any web-based healthcare communication service. Email and telephone customer support and
real time feedback is available. A very nice feature is called CareCompliment. This feature enable patients to recognize Erlanger staff for providing excellent care

Create a CarePage – it takes just a few minutes. Start here

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Why not a Blog? Try Blogger

About five years ago I was at a meeting in California where I heard people talking about “blogging” and “blogs.” I quickly grasped that it was some form of writing that was distributed on the World Wide Web. I stopped at the local Border’s Books and found a thin book titled The Weblog Handbook: Practical Advice on Creating and Maintaining Your Blog, by Rebecca Blood. Upon my return home, I passed the book on to my sons, then 13 and 18 years of age. A few days later, the boys showed me their new Blog. Lesson learned: Sometime the quickest way to learn about a new technology is to let your kids figure it out.

Right now, you are reading one of my Web logs or Blogs. To me, Blogging is a quick, easy way to create content on the Web. In basic terms, a Blog is a web site where you write content on an ongoing basis. Thus, my content is readily accessible to anyone with Internet access using a browser, most likely Internet Explorer or Firefox (my preference). The Web 2.0 tool I use is Blogger – part of the many Web tools from Google. Blogger is simple to use and it is free.

To get started your first create a free account. Next, you name your Blog and then choose a template from a large selection of designs. Once you have the look set, you add written content by “posting” to you Blog site. You can also add some basic graphics and create a list of hot links. Your newest stuff shows up at the top, so your visitors can read what's new first. Older content is still viewable, either by scrolling down or by clicking on archive links. One of the best things about a Blog is that all of the content is available at one place. On this Blog, I also encourage people to go directly to Web tools that I have written on by clicking on resource links (top left).

Visitors may comment on any posting. But, Blogger has some limitations. The Blogger who sets it up is the only one who can directly post on that Blog. Also, Blogger is not very friendly to Rich Media, such as video. There are plenty of Blogging tools out there, but the more powerful ones, such as TypePad or WordPress are more complex and they require a modest payment. Blogger can get you up and going quickly.

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Comments, Please

It may not be easily noticed, but it is possible to leave a comment about any of the postings on this Blog. Below each posting, in very small letters (thanks Google), you will find a link that says "comment." Just click and a pop-up box will give you a place to write a comment. This could be kudos, a criticism, a reference to another Website, or some other message. Comments can be attributed to your real name, some other name, or you can be completely anonymous.

If you prefer, you may communicate offline with the Blogger in Chief at

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

A Time to HEAL?

The Health Education Assets Library (HEAL) is a digital library of multimedia teaching materials for the health sciences. This collection is substantial, with 22,000+ freely accessible “learning objects.” HEAL is funded by grants from the National Science Foundation, the National Library of Medicine, and the Spencer S. Eccles Health Sciences Library at the University of Utah. There are currently over 7,000 active registered users of HEAL.

The collection utilizes a schema of cataloging standards that is derived from the Instructional Management Systems (IMS) standard developed by Educause, a nonprofit association that promotes the intelligent use of information technology. HEAL uses a rigorous peer-review process, with reviewers who are physicians n bio-scientists, and experienced users of instructional technology. They systematically examine both the quality and usefulness of the submitted resources. Potential health sciences-related resources are rejected, accepted conditionally, or accepted as-is. Reviewers can also accept outstanding resources "with acclamation." In addition, HEAL is a leader in developing a process to provide academic recognition for digital scholarship. Upon acceptance, resources are permanently published in the HEAL Reviewed Collection.

HEAL also presents other collections in their affiliated collections. For example, you can explore the UCLA Interactive Neuroscience Collection. It contains multimedia resources to support first year neurosciences curricula and includes videos of brain dissections, a brain atlas, an MRI atlas, and interactive quizzes.

More information about HEAL, as well as free access to HEAL's Reviewed Collection and affiliate collections of health sciences educational resources, is available at

Friday, March 2, 2007

Quizlet: A Web 2.0 Tool for Test Preparation and More

Quizlet is a great example of a Web 2.0 application. It handles a relatively simple task using free, online software and also creates a community of common interests. This is not necessarily a tool that would be used every day, but it can definitely be useful in appropriate situations. Perhaps the greatest use for Quizlet would be with kids – it is a perfect application for school work.

Simply put, Quizlet generates flash cards and practice tests. Once you sign-up for a free account with Quizlet, you can create sets or use many of the sets that have already been created. First, you create a list of terms and matching definitions and enter them online. This will become a “set.” Once created, a set can be used to familiarize and then learn terms. This can be done on-screen or by printing physical flash cards. Then one can assess their progress in learning through the testing function. It is very easy to switch between other quiz formats, such as fill-in, multiple choices, true-false and matching. It is also possible to flip the terms with the definitions and test again.

Quizlet also supports groups that can create and share sets. There is a group for medical students that is collecting useful sets in one place - human anatomy, pathology, pharmacology etc. Thus, Quizlet supports medical students who desire to interact and study together. It is possible to create groups and sets that are private or even restricted to individuals, but much of the material is open to all.

This is a link to a Medical Diagnostic Procedures quiz set. This uses a “scatter” format where terms and definitions are all scattered on a blank page. Using your mouse, you drag the term onto its definition. If this is a correct match, then the term and definition vanish. The goal is to very quickly make all the terms and definitions go away. When this is accomplished, you get the timing and are encouraged to try again.

Quizlet is only 500 days old, but already has 8,551 registered users, 538,396 scores logged, 258,820 terms entered, 36,693 discussion messages sent, and 6,998 sets made. Perhaps the most remarkable thing is that this application was created by a fifteen-year old who was looking for a more interesting way to study French vocabulary. Well done!

Friday, January 26, 2007

Zoomerang – a Web-based survey tool

Whether for assessing needs, expanding product and service development, or improving quality through feedback, there are many reasons to conduct a survey. Asking input from your clients or customers is almost always a good thing. For the past five years, I have used a Web application to create, launch, and analyze survey data. My tool of choice is Zoomerang.

Although you can just jump in and use one of the Zoomerang templates, you should think about your survey's purpose and how to structure questions. In Zoomerang, questions can take several forms, such as: Yes/No, multiple choice, matrixes, or open-ended. You can also have a comment box on each question. Zoomerang allows you to select from basic themes (they mostly differ in color). You then preview the survey to see how it looks and operates. When the editing is complete, activate and launch the survey. A Web URL is created that can be placed on a Website or embedded in an E-mail directed at targeted survey participants. You can create a contact list in Zoomerang. They sell an E-mail list service, but I don’t use it. I often create a list in Word and paste it into Zoomerang.

See an example of a Web-link survey launch HERE

The best feature of Zoomerang is the reporting. You can view results, real-time; and share the results as well. I often use it as a tool for tabulating evaluations. In most cases, we ask the questions using paper evaluations for our CME conferences. Then, the data is entered into Zoomerang, which then creates a nice Web-accessible report. It is also possible to import data from Zoomerang into Excel for further manipulation.

You can create a free online survey of up to 30 questions. Of course, the free version does not offer all the features of the paid service. Also, your results will only be available for 10 days. If you are interested in using the UTCOM/Erlanger account for conducting a survey, contact Larry Miller (423-778-3821 or

You may also consider other Web-based survey tools, such as StellarSurvey or SurveyMonkey


Friday, January 19, 2007

Phone calls from your PC with Skype

Voice Over IP (VOIP) is a way to transmit voice communications, like phone conversations, over the Internet. Skype is a Web 2.0 application that uses IP (Internet Protocol) addresses instead of phone numbers and is often used with a headset connected to a PC. There are several providers that have emerged (Vonage is spending a fortune on TV ads), but I have found Skype to be pretty easy to use and full of features.

First, you can make free calls to anyone else on Skype, no matter where they are. I think the calls of excellent quality. Like many Web applications, there is a free level and a subscriber level. For 30 bucks, you can subscribe to Skype and get one year of unlimited calls to any regular phone in the US and Canada, in addition to the Skype to Skype calls.

There are other features that make Skype more than just another telephone system. If you and your friends, family or business contacts are using webcams, you can also make free video calls. Personally, I am not a big fan of Web cams, but they have a place. More significant to me is the Group chat feature. This is basically instant messaging with up to 100 people in a group chat. With Skype’s bookmark function, you can find the dialogue later to sustain a persistent chat.

Another feature I have not tried is Skypecast. This creates a large online conference call with up to100 people. Skypecasts are scheduled to begin and end at a certain time and usually have a certain topic of discussion.

I don’t see Skype as a telephone replacement service and it cannot be used for emergency dialing. There are other Web-based VoIP systems (Gizmo, Google Talk, and Yahoo! Voice among others), but I am enjoying what I get with Skype.

My Skype account is lorenzostork

Friday, January 12, 2007

Find peer reviewed online teaching and learning materials with MERLOT

MERLOT (Multimedia Educational Resource for Learning and Online Teaching,) is an organization devoted to improving the current and future academic technology needs of faculty, students, staff, and institutions through a collaborative framework. As a MERLOT member, you can: create your own personal collection of learning resources from a repository of over 15,000 materials. With more than 40,000 members, this is truly a community of peers with a passion for online learning. Through MERLOT, you may share advice and expertise about education with colleagues; contribute your own learning materials, comments on learning resource you've used add an assignment to a learning material.

I have found a great deal of useful educational material through MERLOT. In MERLOT, you can search for a specific topic or visit a Discipline Community. These communities include: Biology, Business, Chemistry, Criminal Justice, Engineering, Health Sciences, History, Information Technology, Mathematics, Music, Physics, Psychology, Statistics, Teacher Education, Teaching and Technology, and World Languages. The amount of material specific to medical education has grown significantly over the four years I have used it. There is even a nice unit on Teaching Health Sciences with Technology was developed by the Health Sciences Editorial Board to assist instructors using MERLOT materials.

What really makes MERLOT effective is that the material is peer reviewed by editorial boards of content experts. This really keeps out the junk. Check out the unit called Neuroscience for Kids – very nice. A nice feature is that you can develop a Personal Collections of learning material. Searching and organization is pretty simple.

Have a taste of the MERLOT Health Science Portal at:

Thursday, January 4, 2007

To Wiki or Not to Wiki? I Wiki!


Many of you may have heard of or used Wikipedia, the free online encyclopedia. At this posting, Wikipedia encompasses 1,565,565 articles in English. Since its creation in 2001, Wikipedia has rapidly grown into the largest reference Web site on the Internet. The content of Wikipedia is free, and is written collaboratively by people from all around the world. It is the central focus of the Wikimedia Community that includes over 700 distinct Wikis in hundreds of languages.

A Wiki is a collaborative effort with articles written by individuals from around the world using wiki software that allows content to be added or changed by anyone. As a result, Wikipedia is a dynamic work that is always growing, always changing. This approach, however, is not without its problems. I personally know some educators, including librarians, who will not use or recommend Wikipedia.

However, conducted an evaluation of the validity of Wikipedia by three professional librarians. Their conclusion was:

While there are still reasons to proceed with caution when using a resource that takes pride in limited professional management, many encouraging signs suggest that (at least for now) Wikipedia may be granted the librarian’s seal of approval.

Personally, I love Wikipedia and use it daily. It is the best way to find information quickly. I would not cite Wikipedia for academic publication, but I find that the quick overview is usually what I need. Articles that have some depth to them generally have citation of sources and also links to other sources on the topic.

To utilize Wikipedia, use the search box on the left side of their home page. For example, typing in “Chattanooga” will give you a pretty detailed look at our city. The contents for this article include sections on: History; Economy; Politics, government, and law; Education; Health care; Culture and Tourism; Demographics; Geography; Transportation; Media and communications; Notable residents; Sister cities; Other communities named Chattanooga; and External links.

I have contributed to Wikipedia, including developing new articles and providing minor edits and additions to extant articles. In addition, I have recently added a couple of dozen photos to articles. You can see one of my photos by searching for “Grand Traverse Lighthouse.”