A reminder that the Interactive Dermatology Atlas initially developed by my pal Richard Usatine (who has fled UCLA for greener pastures) remains a valuable resource for both patient care and medical education. Though I will have to admit that I found better pictures .. as well as this useful little table on google.
A google search – if well done – can often get me the information that I want in less than 30 seconds. When I'm in the room with a patient, our collective patience usually lasts ~ 30 seconds. Beyond that, I find that we both get fidgety. So if I can't find what I'm looking for in less than 30 seconds .. never mind. For patient handouts, I usually do a google advanced search and set the language to English .. and filetype to .pdf. For example, this is a search for "oral herpes." Next, I'll click on "view as HTML" so that I can review the text of the handout briefly. If it's got what I need … I'll go back and load (then print) the .pdf version.
Google is so good that it makes projects like the Dermatology atlas less necessary. So long as they are indexed properly .. there may not be a need to build databases and large repositories. For example, HEAL is a great project that aims to build larger interconnected libraries of multimedia content for medical education.
But if we just plop all of this on servers that google can access, and tag the files with appropriate indexing information, I suspect that google could do all of this work for us.
So what? I've been working on a project called the FMDRL .. Family Medicine Digital Resources Library. It's a similar idea to HEAL, but more focused on curricular materials for family medicine. We submitted a federal grant to the National Library of Medicine. I'll be a big effort if we get the funding, but now I wonder if the effort would be better spent at building the repository and making it easy for authors to upload files onto a central server that would be accessible to google.
Will have to think some more about this.