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Two practical and useful social media guides for research and policy engagement

September 19, 2011 Leave a comment

Two practical and useful social media guides for research and policy engagement

Social media has a significant impact on how individuals communicate, interact and collaborate.  It should be an important component in any researcher’s toolkit, to engage stakeholders, gather and analyse data, and disseminate findings. However, most often it isn’t, because  it is still so new, and because there is yet much to be discovered, explored and understood regarding its capabilities, utilities, pitfalls, and practical uses as a tool and mechanism in conducting and disseminating research.   Social Media: A guide for researchers  produced by Alan Cann of the Department of Biology at the University of Leicester, and Konstantia Dimitriou and Tristram Hooley of the International Centre for Guidance Studies, offers a  useful  and practical guide to engaging a range of resources.

Impact 2.0 – New mechanisms for linking research and policy  was originally developed by Cheekay Cinco and Karel Novotney, at the Association for Progressive Communications (APC) and is now managed and updated by Fundacion Comunica, with the financial support of the International Development Research Centre (IDRC).  It seeks to develop a body of knowledge about the use of Web 2.0 in policy-oriented research and design.  Perhaps on account of the scale, scope and speed of change in new communication tools and technologies,  these  tools have not been extensively exploited in promoting and strengthening links between research, advocacy and policy. This guide can be helpful to researchers who wish to better understand how social networking tools can be used to identify the main policy actors,  issues, connected themes, and opportunities; how  these tools can be used to encourage discussion, debate and collaboration; and  how to leverage them in  engaging and maintaining relations with policy makers and other important stakeholders.

Peer review under review

August 16, 2011 1 comment

Two interesting reports were mentioned on  DocuTicker today concerning the use of peer review in scientific publications:  Peer review in scientific publications by the U.K. House of Commons Science and Technology Committee; and Alternatives to peer review in research funding by the Rand Corporation.

A detailed examination of the current peer-review system was conducted this year by the UK Science and Technology Committee,  examining its effectiveness, and  touching on issues of impact, publication ethics and research integrity.  Among its recommendations the report advocated for a development of standards and training for all editors and, particularly, for early-career researchers in peer review, acknowledging that the system depends on the integrity and competence of the people involved, and the degree of editorial oversight and the quality assurance of the peer review system itself.  The committee felt strongly that research data should be fully disclosed and, especially in the case of publicly funded research, made publicly available, to ensure reliability, testing, and reproducibility. Citing the importance of post-publication peer review and commentary, the use of new media and social networking tools was seen as an “enormous opportunity for experimentation” as a supplement to pre-publication peer-review. As well  post-publication review was recognized as an important vehicle in ensuring wide and expedient transmission of interesting research,  facilitation of rapid review by the global audience, and  in alerting the community to ”potential deficiencies and problems with published work”.

The Rand Europe Report, Alternatives to Peer Review in Research Project Funding  acknowledged that while peer review is considered the gold standard for reviewing research proposals, it is not always the best methodology for every research funding process.  The discussion of a set of established approaches that offer alternatives to traditional peer review are presented to inspire thinking among research funders to apply based on their situation and mission.

Availability of new e-Health Implementation Toolkit (e-HIT)

November 1, 2010 Leave a comment

The e-Health Implementation Toolkit is the product of the two-year research project, funded by the Service Delivery and Organization (SDO) stream of the National Institute for Health Research in the U.K, to identify the barriers and facilitators to implementation of e-health initiatives within the National Health Service. The e-HIT is intended to act as a sensitising tool – to help senior managers in their thinking and planning for an e-Health implementation in considering potential problems that will likely be faced and to help facilitate thinking about how they can be overcome or avoided.

The toolkit is downloadable from http://www.ucl.ac.uk/pcph/research/ehealth/documents/e-HIT.xls. It covers consideration of Context (including organisational factors, national and local policies, and other drivers of the implementation); Intervention (the impact on professional – patient interactions, inter-professional relationships, and the effectiveness and cost-effectiveness of the intervention); and Workforce (the impact of the intervention on workload, workflow, distribution of work between different user groups, the need for education and training, and the impact on relationships between professional groups). Reports are generated based on responses to items listed within the toolkit.

The development and formative evaluation of the e-Health Implemention toolkit is described in a paper, published in BMC Medical Informatics and Decision Making 2010, 10:61, available at: http://www.biomedcentral.com/content/pdf/1472-6947-10-61.pdf.

New Guide on Implementing Electronic Medical Record (or Electronic Health Record) Systems.

March 31, 2010 1 comment

Investments in electronic medical record (EMR) systems are on the increase worldwide, fuelled by the promise of cost savings, improved workflow, potential for drug discovery through collaborative and multi-disciplinary cross-disease research, and improved patient care.  Implementation of EMRs is a complicated process, encompassing numerous challenges: cost, existing infrastructure, multiple products, vendors and applications, scalability needs, legal requirements and user buy-in.  Impartial guidance on implementation of EMR systems seems hard to locate, which may account for the fact that close to 50% of implementations fail, causing significant financial losses and other organizational and personal anguish (Keshavjee, 2006).

In Ontario, Canada, hospitals have developed at least nine different internal EMR systems, and scores of subsystems that have been developed in labs, pharmacies and clinics.  Ontario physicians use at least 20 difference electronic records systems – many of which are incompatible, because of commercial competition between system vendors (CMAJ, Mar, 2010). This makes the goal of integrated care and other potential benefits of EMR extremely elusive.

Today I came upon one of the best guides on implementation of the Electronic Medical Record (EMR) I have seen yet. It is entitled:  Electronic Medical Record Implementation Guide: The Link to a Better Future, 2nd Edition, and is downloadable in pdf format.  The document is produced by the Texas Medical Association and published by The Physicians Foundation.  Three continuing medical education (CME) credits in ethics and/or professional responsibility education are available for the material in this book (effective Sept 2009 to Sept 2012). Although this book covers many issues pertinent to implementation of the EMR in the United States – (i.e. discussion of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act [ARRA]), this is an excellent resource for all physicians, practice managers and administrators considering adoption of an electronic medical record system  anywhere in the world.  It offers guidance on conducting needs assessments, vendor contract issues, open source software, legal considerations for utilizing technology and steps for selecting, implementing and maintaining an EMR system.

EU Site eYouGuide

EU’s eYouGuide
http://ec.europa.eu/information_society/eyouguide/navigation/index_en.htm

The European Union Directorate-General for Health and Consumers has created the eYou Guide to inform consumers about their rights online. It offers advice to consumers on how they can make their web experience better and safer, explaining rights and responsibilities in a question and answer format organized within Actions (i.e. “Uploading”, “Shopping Online”..) or Topics (“Protecting Privacy”, “Being Informed)..). The site has an informal look and the text is easy to read and understand. In describing its mandate there is a caveat that, due to its informal nature, the information given in this website may not be fully accurate and that it does not aim at being exhaustive. Even so, this is a useful site for reference, because the internet is global and it is not always evident what one’s rights and responsibilities are, particularly with regard to legal questions surrounding copyright and intellectual property. Links to official documentation are provided as “Related Links”.

The site was described in a press release on May 9, 2009:
“The European Commission today launched the eYouGuide, a new online tool giving practical advice on the “digital rights” consumers have under EU law. This guide, which responds to a call from the European Parliament in 2007, addresses consumer issues like the rights towards your broadband provider, shopping on the web, downloading music and protecting your personal data online and on social networking sites. Even though 48.5% of EU households have a broadband internet connection, a new Eurobarometer survey shows that a lack of confidence still holds many consumers back from online transactions. Only 12% of EU web users feel safe making transactions on the internet, while 39% of EU internet users have major doubts about safety, and 42% do not dare carry out financial transactions online. 65% of internet users in the EU do not know where to get information and advice about cross-border shopping in the EU. A third of consumers would consider buying online from another country because it is cheaper or better, but only 7% actually do so. Giving consumers clear information about their rights will increase trust and help unlock the full economic potential of Europe’s single online market, worth at 106 billion Euros in revenues.”