Keeping up while on the information superhighway

By | July 28, 2009

Web 2.0 has certainly created an information revolution. I used to rely solely on journal articles to keep me up to date. Now I rely on an internet connection. Unfortunately, this creates a situation where information arrives faster than I can digest it, and if you’re not careful you can drown in the excess and end up not learning a thing.

Keeping up requires a combination of technology and a little will power. Some things I’ve found helpful include:

1. Twitter – Twitter is supposed to be a micro-blogging social network, but it’s turned into a great source of information on pretty much anything you can imagine. The more I use Twitter, the more I come to rely on it for up to the minute information on technology, healthcare, and pharmacy. It reminds me of a mini-RSS feed. In fact, it has almost replaced the traditional RSS feed on my desktop.

2. Google Reader – While Twitter is slowly becoming my primary source of information, I’m just not ready to give up my RSS feeds. Find websites and blogs that you can rely on and collect them in a centralized location. Any RSS reader will do, but my personal choice is Google Reader.

3. Clinical Reader – Clinical Reader is an unusual combination of aggregated websites and journals. The service is in the beta phase, but looks promising.

4. BlackBag – BlackBag is an iPhone application by Ortho-McNeil that offers up medical news from multiple sources in a mobile format. I’ve found it useful as many of the clips are from sources I would not normally read.

5. Evernote – Evernote is a great way to keep track of pretty much everything, from quick notes to entire web pages. In addition to the web interface, Evernote offers versions for mobile phones (iPhone and BlackBerry) and the desktop. I’ve been using Evernote off and on for a while, but to see its true value take a look at the public Evernote folder created by RxInformatics.com. Wow!

6. Pick several journals to follow. Keep it reasonable. If you try to follow too many journals you’ll never be able to keep up. My list includes American Journal of Health-System Pharmacy, Hospital Pharmacy, The New England Journal of Medicine, The Journal of the American Medical Association, Journal of the American Medical informatics AssociationAnnals of Pharmacotherpy, Journal of the American Pharmacists Association, Pharmacotherpy, Annals of Internal Medicine, and a few “throw-a-ways”. Read the table of contents with each new issue and dig deeper into the articles that interest you. Most medical literature publishers offer some form of RSS feed to keep you informed (see #1 and #2 above).

7. Go mobile – There’s nothing easier than reading on the go, or better yet listening to podcasts. Devices like the iPhone and the BlackBerry series make it a snap. The combination of Twitter and Evernote on a mobile device makes keeping up and keeping track easier than ever before. Take advantage of the mobile environment when you can.

8. Colleagues – This is a big one. Making contact with people you trust and using them for information is key. Remember, there is always someone harder working, better informed and smarter. The trick is finding those people and picking their brains.