MEDICAL GATEWAYS: Three Portals Help Narrow Online Searches
While the Internet now claims 15,000 to 20,000 health-related Web sites, finding specific information can be a daunting task, the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation's Marla Bolotsky writes in her Los Angeles Times column. However, Bolotsky notes that the use of gateways, shortcuts that can "directly link ... to a pre-selected group of information sources organized by category," can make cyberspace searches more efficient. Some of those gateways include:
- Medlineplus at http://www.medlineplus.gov : NIH's National Library of Medicine gateway offers access to Medline, the electronic database with more than 11 million articles from more than 4,000 medical journals. The site also features lists of hospitals and physicians, clinical trial news and links to disease information translated into multiple languages. The staff of the National Library of Medicine selects all material on the site, ensuring "trustworthy information," Bolotsky says.
- Achoo at http://www.achoo.com: Although the gateway is "a bit busy and confusing at first," it provides a search engine that generates a wide range of medical information, including links to related associations and personal Web sites. The site also allows browsers to search Medline and the Merck Manual of Medicine.
- Medsurfer at http://www.medsurfer.com: A "unique" gateway, Medsurfer was started by Adarsh Gupta, a medical student at the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey and serves as an online guide to information Gupta found useful. The site is divided into three pathways: one for residents and students, one for physicians and one for consumers. Gupta "uses his judgement" to select the information featured on the site, a technique Bolotsky found to be "generally solid" (6/19).