Medical Information Online: What's Now? What's Coming?THE PHYSICIAN AND SPORTSMEDICINE - VOL 24 - NO. 1 - JANUARY 96
If you have a computer online—that is, connected with the rest of the world—it could be because you have kids and they made you do it. Not for educational purposes—which is what they said they needed online access for—but to play new games. But since you're online anyway, why not see what's out there that can help you in your medical practice?
From my point of view, with the exception of Medline, not much...so far. You could argue that there is a lot of useful information on the Internet and the World Wide Web, but it takes so much time to find it and use it that it might as well not be there. So let me make a few suggestions about useful sites, with emphasis on sports medicine. (For information about accessing these and other sites, see Ann Harste's article "Going Online: Sports Medicine and More")
On the Internet, The American Medical Society for Sports Medicine has an e-mail discussion group (listserv) for doctors and other sports medicine practitioners who are interested in clinical problems. Membership is limited, so the discussions generally stay on track. This is in contrast to the newsgroups on the Internet, which anybody with time on their hands can join at any moment. Participating in some of these newsgroups is like standing on a street corner and talking to anybody who wanders by.
The World Wide Web allows handy access to written text, pictures, and sound in an interactive way. That is, you can choose what you want to see next. An example of a good healthcare Web site is the University of Iowa's Virtual Hospital. It offers patient simulations for learning purposes—although there aren't any in sports medicine yet.
For access to medical journals, there are a few Web sites that put truncated versions of selected articles online. But what we need—and what will become increasingly available in the near future—is immediate access to the full text and images of articles from major medical journals. It will be like having time to get to a large medical library to browse the journals. But you'll be able to select by your topics of interest—rather than reading what is left on the shelf.
So stay tuned. Pretty soon there'll be good reason to compete with your kids for computer time at home.