Elsevier launches Clinical Key

Scientific content publishers, Elsevier, this week launched Clinical Key, a “clinical insight engine” that aggregates information from textbooks and journals.

Elsevier says the engine covers 700 textbooks and 400 top medical journals, including The Lancet and Cell, plus expert commentary, videos, images, MEDLINE abstracts and selected third-party journals.

It also says the tool allows doctors to filter search results by clinically meaningful subcategories, content type, specialty and by relevant clinical categories such as treatment and diagnosis. Specialty-specific tools enable physicians to go quickly from topic overview to in-depth specialty information.

Senior vice-president for e-solutions, Sebastian Vos, told eHealth Insider: “The product [development] started two years ago and it started fundamentally re-thinking ‘What are the clinical information needs that doctors have?’ We started talking to several thousand clinicians around the world.”

About 2,000 doctors were consulted and Elsevier found three common characteristics in their responses. They wanted information that was comprehensive, with clinical resources in one place online, representing every medical and surgical specialty and information at all levels, from expert opinion to primary data.

They also wanted information that was trusted – providing the latest peer-reviewed and evidence-based information - and fast.

“You can search on Google, but how reliable is it?” said Vos. In fact, Elsevier research found that 80% of hospital doctors regularly use Google as an information source, second only to journals (86%).

The survey also found that the doctors’ greatest frustrations in searching for information to support clinical decisions stem from the time it takes to identify relevant and up-to-date answers.

Vos said the launch product was the third iteration of Clinical Key – the gold version arrived at after alpha and beta testing. In the future he said there could be more localisation with extra local content and context, including information such as local formularies.

The move by Elsevier, one of the biggest names in medical publishing, represents another step away from the provision of clinical information via traditional journals and textbooks to aggregated content services.

Vos told EHI that work was in hand to make Clinical Key available via iPad and iPhone apps in the autumn of 2012 and also to make it available for integration into electronic record systems.

Pricing remains a difficult issue for publishers aggregating content in this way. The new products require considerable resources to launch and maintain and their presence in the market also implies the gradual loss of revenue from traditional sources, notably journal subscriptions and book sales.

Elsevier executives were vague about how much Clinical Key would cost but Vos said that currently it was geared towards sales to the NHS, universities and medical schools. A 30-day free trial is available for institutions.

Last updated: 16 April 2012 16:46

Linda Davidson

16 April 2012

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