Coping with Medical Information Overload

Checkout RSS feeds. For those who are not familiar with these, they provide a way of bringing frequently searched-for information right to your desktop, rather than the old-fashioned way of running a search for it every week or month, or worse forgetting to search altogether. An example would be to set up some RSS feeds right from the PubMed homepage. The search might be for beta-blockers in heart failure as a topic or Bush, GW as an author. Once you've run the search once in PubMed, there is an option to save the search itself as an RSS feed. This saved RSS feed is then placed into an RSS reader (there are many - I use Google Reader - link). Most news websites will also provide their content as an RSS feed in the same way as PubMed.

Along similar lines are Google Alerts (link). These are simply Google searches that can be saved. It s possible to then determine how often the search is automatically run. The search results are then forwarded to the user by email; again the frequency of this is fully customisable. I use Google Alerts to perform a weekly automated search for Atherosclerosis Imaging and several others relating to my research area. A very elegant and easy solution from the good folks at Google.

Rather than textbooks, I almost always use a subscription-based website called UpToDate. This is a very good reference website covering the whole of medicine. The information provided is regularly updated by a respected team of experts from several countries to reflect latest and best practice. It's also available to me on laptop and smartphone.