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Getting Healthy Information With OvidMD
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Posted On May 26, 2011
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Researchers in the medical field have long relied upon Ovid, part of Wolters Kluwer, databases to provide authoritative information from the medical literature. The OvidSP platform, commonly found in academic, pharmaceutical, and medical library settings, is frequently the “go to” source for students, faculty, and researchers. Searches at OvidSP can be somewhat leisurely, starting at 10 to 15 minutes and sometimes lasting longer. Another Ovid product, UpToDate, is designed for clinical decision support. Here a quick answer is needed and searches last only 1 to 3 minutes. Believing that something was needed in between the search times ascribed to OvidSP and UpToDate, Ovid introduced OvidMD at the Medical Library Association (MLA) annual conference in mid-May 2011. Andrew Popper, VP of publishing and eproducts; Marisa Westcott, VP marketing; and Brianna Feeney, product manager, were on hand to put it through its paces for me.

OvidMD, according to them, is “the first clinical tool from Ovid designed especially for physicians and other clinicians.” It fills that time gap between OvidSP and UpToDate, as it is intended to provide quick answers to questions that arise in the daily working life of physicians and clinicians. Ovid expects these health professionals to spend somewhere between 3 and 15 minutes on OvidMD. These searches could even be done while the physician is with a patient. To this end, careful thought has been applied both to sources included in the product and to the interface.

Sources include MEDLINE, evidence-based guidelines written by physicians, Current Opinion journals from Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, A-Z drug facts, practice guidelines from National Clearinghouse Guidelines, and UpToDate topic previews. On the patient side, OvidMD incorporates educational materials from both UpToDate and McKesson’s RelayHealth—information can be personalized for individual patients. OvidMD promises libraries the ability to federate searching across their own full-text clinical content and databases. Exportable images and medical calculators round out the product offerings.

For the search interface, OvidMD enabled a type-ahead function reminiscent of what general web search engines, such as Google and Bing, present to searchers. The overall interface is also “Googlesque,” with its simple search box in the middle of an almost empty screen. Search help is available and left hand facets allow for limiting to sources and dates. Results are presented in relevancy ranked order, which is based on what Ovid sees as the clinical thinking behind the search query. This should improve over time, as more searches are conducted. Once searchers have identified relevant items in their search results, they can email to colleagues, export to a citation manager, and create alerts. Note that only Ovid subscribers can access the full text.

Reactions to OvidMD from the librarians attending MLA were mixed. Several said they looked forward to OvidMD adding Lexi-Comp to the product, once Wolters Kluwer finalizes ownership of this global drug information company. (The proposed acquisition was announced on April 27, 2011 and Lexi-Comp is already integrated into UpToDate.) Reactions differed a bit between academic librarians and their medical/hospital library counterparts. The former weren’t sure where OvidMD would fit in a university setting, while the latter wished for additional sources, specifically for the nursing literature. Both, though, worried about pricing. Staff in the Wolters Kluwer booth declined to provide exact pricing data, stating it depended upon the library’s existing connection to Ovid. They did assure me that there would be no redundant pricing—libraries would pay for data only once, regardless of which Ovid products they purchased.

Launching OvidMD at the annual conference for medical librarians was a clear signal that Ovid intends librarians to both use and champion the product. According to Popper, one of the objectives is for OvidMD to drive users back to the library’s holdings, thus helping medical libraries market their services. “We have two objectives when it comes to libraries,” he said. “One, get the content used. Two, make sure end users are searching properly.” That’s a noble goal for a “clinical tool” Ovid is aiming squarely at physicians and clinicians.


Marydee Ojala is the editor-in-chief of Online Searcher magazine, chairs WebSearch University, and is Program Development Director for Enterprise Search & Discovery.

Email Marydee Ojala

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