MEDLINE as a source of just-in-time answers to clinical questions

AMIA Annu Symp Proc. 2006;2006:190-4.


Clinicians increasingly use handheld devices to support evidence-based practice and for clinical decision support. However, support of clinical decisions through information retrieval from MEDLINE(R) and other databases lags behind popular daily activities such as patient information or drug formulary look-up. The objective of the current study is to determine whether relevant information can be retrieved from MEDLINE to answer clinical questions using a handheld device at the point of care. Analysis of search and retrieval results for 108 clinical questions asked by members of clinical teams during 28 daily rounds in a 12-bed intensive care unit confirm MEDLINE as a potentially valuable resource for just-in-time answers to clinical questions. Answers to 93 (86%) questions were found in MEDLINE by two resident physicians using handheld devices. The majority of answers, 88.9% and 97.7% respectively, were found during rounds. Strategies that facilitated timely retrieval of results include using PubMed(R) Clinical Queries and Related Articles, spell check, and organizing retrieval results into topical clusters. Further possible improvements in organization of retrieval results such as automatic semantic clustering and providing patient outcome information along with the titles of the retrieved articles are discussed.

MeSH terms

  • Abstracting and Indexing
  • Computers, Handheld*
  • Humans
  • Information Storage and Retrieval*
  • Point-of-Care Systems*
  • User-Computer Interface