Newsletter of the Medical Library Group of Southern California and Arizona

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Posted on May 7, 2012 by Amy Chatfield | No Comments

Contributed by Catherine Madsen, MLIS graduate, UCLA Graduate School of Education and Information Studies is a web app for consumers, currently in beta.  It is designed to cull millions of medical research studies primarily from Medline and other professionally vetted sources, making them more easily accessible, thus empowering consumers with the medical information they need to know to help themselves and their families with their medical conditions.  They accomplish this by extracting relevant data and compiling it in interactive graphs and tables, personalizable for each consumer based on that consumer’s own symptoms and issues.  They go beyond simply aggregating research from by extracting and graphing key data such as number of patients studied against number of studies as well as patient outcomes, something WebMD, another consumer focused site providing medical information, does not do.

They use an algorithm to rank treatments based on how far a drug has gotten in clinical trials; how often that drug has been studied; how many people it was studied on; and how quickly the treatment is evolving.  For example, when a consumer enters a condition such as kidney disease, they will see the top five treatments based on the above algorithm, represented by bubbles on an interactive graph.  They can find more information on each treatment by clicking on the bubble.  Medify will rate the treatment based on the data, such as “effective” or “hot” and then provides access to the abstract of the study the data is based on that says the treatment was effective in 65 out of 66 patients for example.

The advantage of Medify as opposed to Googling their condition or looking studies up themselves in PubMed, which consumers may not know how to do adequately without assistance, is that the team of professionals at Medify have done the work for the consumer by culling studies only from vetted sources and then organizing and highlighting key facts and findings, making the consumer’s search much more efficient as well as reliable.  The consumer can also personalize their search by inputting their own symptoms in order to see the studies involving similar cases and patient results from each treatment used in those cases.  The intent is to provide consumers with the information they need to bring to their doctors in order to have a productive conversation about which treatments are available and which are most effective according to the research for their particular condition.

In addition, consumers can save their search results in a binder on the site as well as share it with friends and family.  This site also tracks new studies and informs the consumer when they are published, making it easier for consumers to keep up with the latest treatments for their condition.  This social networking aspect adds value to the site not found on other sites that are simply databases of all the medical studies in the world such as Medline or, which provide access to the studies, but do not organize them for the consumer, extract data personalized to the consumer’s issues, create tables or graphs or provide social networking opportunities to share findings.

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