Occasionally in life you stumble across a new concept which takes your mind and thinking off in new directions. I experienced this while reviewing this product, but more of that later
Ovid - Full Text is a Windows product which is able to search library databases (in this case the 'Ovid core biomedical collection' of 15 biomedical journals), save those searches and retrieve them. The big difference between this and previous versions is that the full text of many of the articles as well as the abstract, tables and graphics are also available. Where the references are also cited in the database these are also available in their full text form.
The product that I reviewed was a demonstration copy on a single CD-ROM. The full version takes up a massive 7 CD-ROM disks. Installation was simple and straightforward using the Windows setup program on the CD. Hardware requirements are modest by today's standards:
and it certainly runs more than adequately on my ageing 486 DX2-66. The full version at home, however, would require a fair amount of disk swapping unless you invested in a stack of CD-ROMs, though there is now an alternative means of access which I will discuss later.
Some expert searches are included in the demo to show off the features:
Figure 1: Expert Searches in the demonstration version of Ovid
This was most impressive. Compared with the standards set by my access to the BMA Medline account, Ovid wins hands down. It is simple to use and seems to give a much better idea of the search criteria. These can then be saved and refined at a later date. Information is upgraded regularly and simply requires the user to insert the disk containing the update information and hit the 'update' icon.
Running one of the stored searches brought up the abstract, as one would find on any version of Medline. However, there is a Links button at the bottom of the abstract screen, and clicking on it found not only the full text of the article but also the graphics, tables and equations.
Figure 2: Graphics available with selected document
All professionals are deluged with data all the time. Especially as a generalist, it has become impossible to keep up with the current thinking on even a limited range of topics, let alone your own special interests. It is my opinion that access to information in the way that Ovid allows will become the norm over the next 2 to 3 years. The ability to access appropriate information at an appropriate time to allow "just in time" learning will have to be integrated into the way that we work for us all to remain both sane and competent. I hope that both the primary care system suppliers and the NHSnet administrators are listening!
There is no doubt that only a few GPs will want to buy this package for their sole personal use. The number of CDs that you would need to buy, accompanied by the recurring costs, are too high for all but the most dedicated academic practices to consider.
However, since I started this review the makers have developed another method of access to Ovid over the Internet and the World Wide Web. A demonstration is available at http://preview.ovid.com/libpreview/start.cgi
The interface is as easy to use as the CD-ROM version and response times were remarkably fast. The major attraction of this method of access is that it is by subscription for the basic service, rather like Compuserve for those of you that access the Internet in this way.
I would recommend at least one look at the demonstration and then a quick letter to your health authority, LMC and LCMG to demand why this service is not available to you through the NHSnet as well as being reimbursable and a source of CME points.